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Belgium! Research and family and fun (chocolate)

Belgium! Research and family and fun (chocolate)

Old Oct 28th, 2021, 05:27 AM
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Belgium! Research and family and fun (chocolate)

Hello All! My mother's family is all from Belgium, and I've been wanting to visit to see graveyards and towns where they all lived, and as well am writing a book that takes place in Bruges...so coming up in April I have a week planned there with my husband and son (11 years old). Here is my plan thus far and I'd love any input/suggestions. We are not big city people and love small villages/history/anything picturesque. Most likely we won't be in museums much, since we'll have my son with us, but tours (castles, chocolate etc) are definitely on the agenda.

Friday - night in YPRES - Land Brussels in the morning, rent car, drive through Ghent to see it and then on to Ypres, where we'll stay for the night. (Note, my book takes place in WW1 and my family is from the areas surrounding here, hence the need for a car to wander and spend time places - we have a hotel with free parking so this seemed like a good time to have a car)
Saturday - night in YPRES - another night here, to continue exploring the area/go to WW1 sites. Any other suggestions from here? A quick dip into France?
Sunday - Thursday - 4 nights in BRUGES. I know, it may seem like a lot, but my book takes place here and I thought it would be fun to really try and get to know it and be there in the evenings, and as well maybe we could take the train elsewhere and have it as a home base. We'll be returning the car on Monday in Bruges, so from Monday on will be relying on public transport/lyfts/ubers (are those easy to get?) while in Bruges. Any day trips you suggest from Bruges to explore other parts of the country (or any other country? ha) Any amazing tours you suggest in Bruges?
Thursday and Friday nights in BRUSSELS - I don't have a hotel here yet, and would love to find one in historic/old center so we can walk to dinners etc and not have to venture far. Where in Brussels should I look for a hotel that would be like this? Also, we'll have that whole Friday free - is there a day trip you'd suggest from here? I know we should probably be exploring Brussels, but I figured we could do that a bit in the evenings and I'd actually rather branch out to see more places vs more of the city (since we're not big city people).
And then we leave! Any suggestions? Thoughts?

Thank you!!!!
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Old Oct 28th, 2021, 01:33 PM
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Hi, and thanks for your post. It sounds like an amazing trip. A few points about your plans: Ghent has a pedestrianised zone where cars can't drive and is also a low emission zone. Your car has to be registered to drive or park anywhere within the ring. More information about this here: https://stad.gent/en/mobility-ghent/...-emission-zone

I would urge you to think about a formal tour in the WWI battlefields and cemeteries. Some members of my family have done this and I personally have done some of the Australian sites there (Passendaal, Tyne Cot, last post at Menin Gate), as part of an Australian delegation on Anzac Day. Many of these tours leave from Lille (France) but go into Belgium. Often they will shape the tour to your interests, so if you tell them you are looking at certain person from a certain battalion they will do research and tell you what you need to know and take you to the pertinent areas. I would look into tours leaving from Ypres (Ieper in Flemish, with i as in Ian). I don't think you are spending too long in Ieper and Brugge if you are writing a book, you will want that extra time there. - maybe budget some more time for both. I would stick to public transport (or if necessary, taxis) as Uber X isn't a big thing in Brugge. There is a shuttle bus between the station and the middle of town.

In Brussels - convenient hotels in the centre are Adagio Aparthotel Grand' Place (not luxury, just good, but the location can't be beat as it is on top on the De BrouckŤre metro station, and very convenient to the Grand' Place, Manneken Pis, Galeries St.-Hubert), or the Novotel Brussels off Grand' Place or Ibis Brussels off Grand' Place (a little simpler). None of these are luxury but well-located. If you would prefer a day trip rather than exploring the city, what about Waterloo (historic battle site), which would still leave you part of the day to see the city, or Antwerp (a whole day), or even Lier (which is small but comparable to Ghent or Brugge, and which again would leave you a bit of time in Brussels). Brussels in the centre has the feel of a smaller city and it's only on the outskirts that you find big buildings, so I would not be scared off by Brussels, it has its charms.

Lavandula

Last edited by lavandula; Oct 28th, 2021 at 01:37 PM.
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Old Oct 28th, 2021, 01:59 PM
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Oh - and for your son: the Atomium, Mini-Europe (both at Heyzel/Heisel), the Tintin shop (make sure he knows who Tintin is before going to Belgium), the cartoon walk through Brussels (painted building facades) and the Musical Instrument Museum (very interactive). There is also a comic strip museum with Belgian characters which he might tolerate, which has a good shop in the foyer (lots of English books for sale), and a medieval museum in one of the city's old gate towers (Porte de Hal/Hallepoort). For waffles: sit down in the upstairs cafe at Maison Dandoy (there are two but the one in Rue Charles Buls has the tearoom). Waffles are not breakfast food in Belgium, but a daytime snack - the LiŤge waffle and the Brussels waffle. Try them both!

Lavandula

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Old Oct 28th, 2021, 02:42 PM
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...and castles - Gravensteen in Ghent!

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Old Oct 28th, 2021, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by lavandula View Post
...and castles - Gravensteen in Ghent!

Lavandula
THANK YOU! All this is amazing!! Are taxis easy to find there? You are so, so so so helpful. I'm going to write down your suggestions. Also, what do you think about a day trip to Dinant? Would love to get some different feeling places, so venturing off to Dinant sounded good, but I'm not sure how doable it is without a car. What do you think? And THANK YOU!
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Old Oct 28th, 2021, 05:18 PM
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Yes, taxis are easy to find in the bigger cities, I would probably order a taxi in Brugge (assuming this is for car drop off, the rental people might be able to call you a taxi or help you find public transport). Otherwise public transport is cheap and easy to use. You will probably not want a car in Brugge, it's also a pedestrian zone, but there is a huge car park at the station. Day trips from Bruges might be a bike ride to Damme, or a trip to Sluis in the Netherlands, or exploring the coast (Knokke-Heist is a posh beachside resort nearby, but the whole coast can be explored by the coast tram). There is a lot to do in Bruges. Your son might like the Historium (not a museum but a 3D experience).

Dinant is a very pretty corner of the world, it's one of my favourite places, but wait until you are staying in Brussels before going there, as everywhere else you are going to is to the west of Brussels, and Dinant is to the east and you will have to transfer in Brussels anyway (plus Brugge is an enormous distance away by Belgian standards). Also Dinant is French-speaking, Brussels is for the most part French-speaking (although officially bilingual) and Ghent, Antwerp, Lier, Waterloo, Ieper and Brugge are all Flemish (Dutch)- speaking. English will get you everywhere in Flanders, and to some extent in Brussels, where it is widespread. In Dinant you will get to practice that high-school French! And no problem without a car, there is a train.

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Old Oct 28th, 2021, 06:21 PM
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You realise now you will need ten days!

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Old Oct 28th, 2021, 06:40 PM
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Hello! I donít often post here so I apologize in advance if my quotes/ responses arenít formatted in an easy to read style. I was intrigued by your questions and had a chance to remember a great trip while composing my response, so thank you!

<Hello All! My mother's family is all from Belgium, and I've been wanting to visit to see graveyards and towns where they all lived>

We also travelled to Belgium hoping to find my husbandís paternal grandparentís home as well as the grave of his aunt and family (in Veurne). We discovered that when gravesites are not maintained / paid for by the family, the remains are relocated and plots reassigned. The more research you can do before your trip, the less time you will spend looking. We assumed that since his auntís death was well documented in newspapers from the time of her death (a movie was made even telling the story) knowing the graveyard location and row/plot number would be sufficient. It was not possible to find it, perhaps due to all family members having passed away years earlier and fees not being paid??? If anyone has further firsthand information about how this works we would be very interested.

<and as well am writing a book that takes place in Bruges...so coming up in April I have a week planned there with my husband and son (11 years old). Here is my plan thus far and I'd love any input/suggestions. We are not big city people and love small villages/history/anything picturesque. Most likely we won't be in museums much, since we'll have my son with us, but tours (castles, chocolate etc) are definitely on the agenda>

Someone in a previous reply has already suggested going to the coast I believe. There is a tram/ bus that runs along the coast. We took it from DePanne to Oostende. We spotted bunkers along this ride- we enjoyed walking the beaches, checking out the sand sailing/ land yachting, seeing the bunkers.

<Friday - night in YPRES - Land Brussels in the morning, rent car, drive through Ghent to see it and then on to Ypres, where we'll stay for the night. (Note, my book takes place in WW1 and my family is from the areas surrounding here, hence the need for a car to wander and spend time places - we have a hotel with free parking so this seemed like a good time to have a car)>

It is good to have a car here, but will you be leaving yourself enough time to explore? There is a lot to take in!

<Saturday - night in YPRES - another night here, to continue exploring the area/go to WW1 sites. Any other suggestions from here? A quick dip into France? >

As mentioned above, there is a lot to see near Ypres. Dunkirk is close by also, however heading too far into France IMO would require more time.
I found Ypres very moving. You will want to take time to read the names on the wall, view the memorial at the Menin Gate and reflect/ observe the evening ceremony:
https://www.visitflanders.com/en/thi...-last-post.jsp
Outside of Ypres you can visit the trenches that have been preserved, as well as the cemetery. So many things related to the war perhaps may not captivate your son but are worth taking time for given the other purpose of your trip.

<Sunday - Thursday - 4 nights in BRUGES. I know, it may seem like a lot, but my book takes place here and I thought it would be fun to really try and get to know it and be there in the evenings, and as well maybe we could take the train elsewhere and have it as a home base. We'll be returning the car on Monday in Bruges, so from Monday on will be relying on public transport/lyfts/ubers (are those easy to get?) while in Bruges. Any day trips you suggest from Bruges to explore other parts of the country (or any other country? ha) Any amazing tours you suggest in Bruges?>

See above re: coast. Also, rather than rushing through Ghent on the way to Bruges, it could be a day trip. We relied on trains and public transport and did not need taxis at all in Bruges. We stayed near the Burg Square in Bruges at the Grand Hotel Casselburgh (which at the time was a great value) and I wished I had more time, it was lovely!

<Thursday and Friday nights in BRUSSELS - I don't have a hotel here yet, and would love to find one in historic/old center so we can walk to dinners etc and not have to venture far.>

We used points in Brussels and stayed at the Brussels Marriott Grand Place across the street from Bourse de Bruxelles (the Stock Exchange), at the Tram stop Bourse. It was close to Grand Place and we walked from the central train station (without children). On our departure morning we had the hotel call a taxi to take us to the airport. The rooms had more character than a typical chain hotel (high ceilings, beautiful big windows). We enjoyed seeing the Palace and walking through the park and seeing the Atomium structure. We had a lovely quaint meal in a restaurant on Place Sainte Catherine. The food was french with excellent service, however things seem to have possibly changed significantly in that area in the nine years since we visited.

If I had to choose between extra time in a smaller town (Ypres, Bruges/ Ghent) vs Brussels (even though I enjoyed Brussels) I am not a big city lover and would have found it sufficient to spend one night to wander the Grand Place, see the Mannekin Pis etc., have a beer and mussels on the square and buy some Neuhaus chocolate. If not looking to go to museums, historical buildings, see the EU headquarters, one night in Brussels could be sufficient, if you donít love cities like me.


Have fun planning and I wish you a wonderful trip!
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Old Oct 28th, 2021, 07:40 PM
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I don't know anything at all about the process of reallocating graves but I know they don't do this in the war cemeteries, I think this is just for (what do you call this?) - domestic? graveyards, so it depends on whether the people you are seeking died as part of a war, or under normal circumstances. The upkeep of war cemeteries is funded by the governments of the soldiers (in our case the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) who died and the graves are permanent and very well documented.

I found this link about gravesites in Flanders, if it is of any interest to you, trycke. Laws around burial are overseen by the regions (i.e Flanders, Wallonia), and this here is the modern practice around burials - your case might be more of a historical re-interment and would be worth pursuing through Belgian historical societies. It is in Flemish / Dutch but if you use Google Chrome to look at it you can get the page translated as it has Google Translate built in:

https://www.vlaanderen.be/begraafpla...-lijkbezorging

Lavandula
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Old Oct 28th, 2021, 09:08 PM
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what an exciting trip .I understand that you want a car around Ieper but I managed really well on 2 trips in Belgium and Northern France witihout a car . Admitedly on one of them I was living in Leuven which is another pretty town to go to -just a train ride from Brussels.
Ive spent 4 days in Bruges without a car -just make sure you are there week days if possible -less crowds.
I did a day trip of WW! sites from Bruges with Quasimodo Tours. excellent guides the guide is a local and his granmother lived in Passchendale in the war -his wife is New Zealander so they know all the sites. They also do other tours .
You need to stay in Ieper/Yrpes at night to go to the Menin gate ceremony -very moving.
For Northern France-Flanders we had a guide who picked us up both in Lille and Amiens..his name is Greg Celerse and is worth getting in contact with for any sort of guidance and specific tour.His knowledege is amazing and he is very generous with his inforamtion.

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Old Oct 29th, 2021, 04:38 AM
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Thank you so much for this!!!
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Old Oct 29th, 2021, 04:40 AM
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You all are amazing. So buses are easy to use there? I'm sorry to ask such dense questions, but how would I get a pass and schedule/map?
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Old Oct 29th, 2021, 12:56 PM
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Not silly questions at all - public transport in Belgium is a minefield because of the three regions (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels Capital).

De Lijn is the name of the company that runs public transport (except for trains) in Flanders, which covers most of your destinations. Here is the page with all the routes in Brugge:

https://www.delijn.be/en/gemeenten/g...vertaling=true

Have an explore of the pages (all available in English). You can get tickets on your smartphone: https://www.delijn.be/en/vervoerbewijzen/tickets/

You can walk Bruges but you will want a bus from the station to the centre, and possibly on an excursion (for instance, Knokke, but there is a train there also). Perhaps you can plan in advance for the trips you need and work out the appropriate ticket/s.

In Brussels I would use the metro (or the train between Bruxelles-Midi and Bruxelles-Central) for simplicity. Once in Brussels (centre-ville) you can walk the short distances. The transport company is MIVB-STIB and covers metro, tram and bus only in the capital. https://www.stib-mivb.be/index.htm?l=en and tickets: https://www.stib-mivb.be/simple-multiple.html?l=en . If you want paper tickets or a plastic pass (not really worth it for your present itinerary), you go down one level in Bruxelles-Midi railway station and there is a kiosk that sells tickets and possibly also a paper map (but of course it is also here on the website). Do familiarise yourself with the metro map, it could be helpful.

In Dinant (as for the whole of Wallonia) the transport company is TEC. Dinant is small and I doubt you will need a bus, but I think there is one from the station to the town. When you arrive by train you are across the river from the town (so you get a good view) and you need to cross the river (on foot) to reach the town. But just for the sake of completion, here is TEC's page: https://www.letec.be/#/ .

Ask more questions if you have them, it can be complex working out the right route for you.

Lavandula
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Old Oct 29th, 2021, 01:30 PM
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Oh, and the trains are run by the SNCB/NMBS, good for the whole country: https://www.belgiantrain.be/en . You can probably get away with engaging minimally with those other modes of transport, except maybe in Bruges, depending on what you are doing.

Lavandula
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Old Oct 30th, 2021, 05:17 AM
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Originally Posted by lavandula View Post
Not silly questions at all - public transport in Belgium is a minefield because of the three regions (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels Capital).

De Lijn is the name of the company that runs public transport (except for trains) in Flanders, which covers most of your destinations. Here is the page with all the routes in Brugge:

https://www.delijn.be/en/gemeenten/g...vertaling=true

Have an explore of the pages (all available in English). You can get tickets on your smartphone: https://www.delijn.be/en/vervoerbewijzen/tickets/

You can walk Bruges but you will want a bus from the station to the centre, and possibly on an excursion (for instance, Knokke, but there is a train there also). Perhaps you can plan in advance for the trips you need and work out the appropriate ticket/s.

In Brussels I would use the metro (or the train between Bruxelles-Midi and Bruxelles-Central) for simplicity. Once in Brussels (centre-ville) you can walk the short distances. The transport company is MIVB-STIB and covers metro, tram and bus only in the capital. https://www.stib-mivb.be/index.htm?l=en and tickets: https://www.stib-mivb.be/simple-multiple.html?l=en . If you want paper tickets or a plastic pass (not really worth it for your present itinerary), you go down one level in Bruxelles-Midi railway station and there is a kiosk that sells tickets and possibly also a paper map (but of course it is also here on the website). Do familiarise yourself with the metro map, it could be helpful.

In Dinant (as for the whole of Wallonia) the transport company is TEC. Dinant is small and I doubt you will need a bus, but I think there is one from the station to the town. When you arrive by train you are across the river from the town (so you get a good view) and you need to cross the river (on foot) to reach the town. But just for the sake of completion, here is TEC's page: https://www.letec.be/#/ .

Ask more questions if you have them, it can be complex working out the right route for you.

Lavandula
This is AMAZING. I'm so thankful for all you've shared here! Thank you!!
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Old Oct 30th, 2021, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by trycke View Post
Hello! I donít often post here so I apologize in advance if my quotes/ responses arenít formatted in an easy to read style. I was intrigued by your questions and had a chance to remember a great trip while composing my response, so thank you!

<Hello All! My mother's family is all from Belgium, and I've been wanting to visit to see graveyards and towns where they all lived>

We also travelled to Belgium hoping to find my husbandís paternal grandparentís home as well as the grave of his aunt and family (in Veurne). We discovered that when gravesites are not maintained / paid for by the family, the remains are relocated and plots reassigned. The more research you can do before your trip, the less time you will spend looking. We assumed that since his auntís death was well documented in newspapers from the time of her death (a movie was made even telling the story) knowing the graveyard location and row/plot number would be sufficient. It was not possible to find it, perhaps due to all family members having passed away years earlier and fees not being paid??? If anyone has further firsthand information about how this works we would be very interested.

<and as well am writing a book that takes place in Bruges...so coming up in April I have a week planned there with my husband and son (11 years old). Here is my plan thus far and I'd love any input/suggestions. We are not big city people and love small villages/history/anything picturesque. Most likely we won't be in museums much, since we'll have my son with us, but tours (castles, chocolate etc) are definitely on the agenda>

Someone in a previous reply has already suggested going to the coast I believe. There is a tram/ bus that runs along the coast. We took it from DePanne to Oostende. We spotted bunkers along this ride- we enjoyed walking the beaches, checking out the sand sailing/ land yachting, seeing the bunkers.

<Friday - night in YPRES - Land Brussels in the morning, rent car, drive through Ghent to see it and then on to Ypres, where we'll stay for the night. (Note, my book takes place in WW1 and my family is from the areas surrounding here, hence the need for a car to wander and spend time places - we have a hotel with free parking so this seemed like a good time to have a car)>

It is good to have a car here, but will you be leaving yourself enough time to explore? There is a lot to take in!

<Saturday - night in YPRES - another night here, to continue exploring the area/go to WW1 sites. Any other suggestions from here? A quick dip into France? >

As mentioned above, there is a lot to see near Ypres. Dunkirk is close by also, however heading too far into France IMO would require more time.
I found Ypres very moving. You will want to take time to read the names on the wall, view the memorial at the Menin Gate and reflect/ observe the evening ceremony:
https://www.visitflanders.com/en/thi...-last-post.jsp
Outside of Ypres you can visit the trenches that have been preserved, as well as the cemetery. So many things related to the war perhaps may not captivate your son but are worth taking time for given the other purpose of your trip.

<Sunday - Thursday - 4 nights in BRUGES. I know, it may seem like a lot, but my book takes place here and I thought it would be fun to really try and get to know it and be there in the evenings, and as well maybe we could take the train elsewhere and have it as a home base. We'll be returning the car on Monday in Bruges, so from Monday on will be relying on public transport/lyfts/ubers (are those easy to get?) while in Bruges. Any day trips you suggest from Bruges to explore other parts of the country (or any other country? ha) Any amazing tours you suggest in Bruges?>

See above re: coast. Also, rather than rushing through Ghent on the way to Bruges, it could be a day trip. We relied on trains and public transport and did not need taxis at all in Bruges. We stayed near the Burg Square in Bruges at the Grand Hotel Casselburgh (which at the time was a great value) and I wished I had more time, it was lovely!

<Thursday and Friday nights in BRUSSELS - I don't have a hotel here yet, and would love to find one in historic/old center so we can walk to dinners etc and not have to venture far.>

We used points in Brussels and stayed at the Brussels Marriott Grand Place across the street from Bourse de Bruxelles (the Stock Exchange), at the Tram stop Bourse. It was close to Grand Place and we walked from the central train station (without children). On our departure morning we had the hotel call a taxi to take us to the airport. The rooms had more character than a typical chain hotel (high ceilings, beautiful big windows). We enjoyed seeing the Palace and walking through the park and seeing the Atomium structure. We had a lovely quaint meal in a restaurant on Place Sainte Catherine. The food was french with excellent service, however things seem to have possibly changed significantly in that area in the nine years since we visited.

If I had to choose between extra time in a smaller town (Ypres, Bruges/ Ghent) vs Brussels (even though I enjoyed Brussels) I am not a big city lover and would have found it sufficient to spend one night to wander the Grand Place, see the Mannekin Pis etc., have a beer and mussels on the square and buy some Neuhaus chocolate. If not looking to go to museums, historical buildings, see the EU headquarters, one night in Brussels could be sufficient, if you donít love cities like me.


Have fun planning and I wish you a wonderful trip!
I'm wondering if instead of two nights in Brussels, I should do one? I think I'm on the same page as you in terms of big cities. We for sure have to do the Friday night in Brussels, to catch the plane the next day, but Thursday night we could do elsewhere. Should I try to fit a different town in? Even take the train (I know it would be a long train) from Bruges on Thursday to Dinant and stay there one day? or would there be something else closer? Also, if best I could keep the two night in Brussels and just look for day tours with Brussels as a base. I hate staying somewhere for just one night ( a lot of hassle) but also want to make the most of this trip!
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Old Oct 30th, 2021, 07:02 AM
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Hi GKS!
My thinking re: 1 night in Brussels was to give you more time staying in Ypres or in Bruges. I personally would not add another night in a different location. I like to spend longer in one place and explore from there, rather than move around. However, I understand the desire to see every thing!
Regards,
trycke

P.S. Thank you for the information & link re: Belgian cemeteries, Lavandula!
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Old Oct 30th, 2021, 01:40 PM
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If you want to shave down Brussels I would give the extra night to Bruges and do Ghent from that base. Your first day (when you were driving to Ghent and Ypres) is going to be jetlagged, and also not a great day for driving. Your first day should be not so stressful. Maybe you can move your first day to Brussels, or else catch a train directly to Ypres and pick up a car from there, to avoid driving while jetlagged. I think you will want to have at least a day in Brussels or you won't have perspective on Bruges, which was once a bigger city than Brussels was, if you can imagine it.

What sort of day tours were you thinking of? Dinant is pretty small, you could do it yourselves, but there are boat tours on the river there. I have been on the same river between Houyet and Anseremme in a kayak, and I must say it is rather nice. It would be good to have a guided tour of Brussels though, the ones on foot leave from the visitor's centre in the Grand' Place. You can also get maps of self-guided walks (like the cartoon walk, or Art Nouveau) from the visitor's centre there and do that yourselves. They used to be free but I would not be surprised if nowadays you pay a little bit for them. When I first moved to Brussels I did one of the guided tours on foot and even now there are things I learned about the most interesting buildings that I still remember and have told other people about.

Lavandula
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Old Oct 31st, 2021, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by trycke View Post
Hi GKS!
My thinking re: 1 night in Brussels was to give you more time staying in Ypres or in Bruges. I personally would not add another night in a different location. I like to spend longer in one place and explore from there, rather than move around. However, I understand the desire to see every thing!
Regards,
trycke

P.S. Thank you for the information & link re: Belgian cemeteries, Lavandula!
Thank you! You're right, more days would be better in each spot. I'll stick to it as it is and maybe we'll just plan on one day in Brussels being for a train to Dinant and back that same day.
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Old Oct 31st, 2021, 07:27 AM
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GKS
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Originally Posted by lavandula View Post
If you want to shave down Brussels I would give the extra night to Bruges and do Ghent from that base. Your first day (when you were driving to Ghent and Ypres) is going to be jetlagged, and also not a great day for driving. Your first day should be not so stressful. Maybe you can move your first day to Brussels, or else catch a train directly to Ypres and pick up a car from there, to avoid driving while jetlagged. I think you will want to have at least a day in Brussels or you won't have perspective on Bruges, which was once a bigger city than Brussels was, if you can imagine it.

What sort of day tours were you thinking of? Dinant is pretty small, you could do it yourselves, but there are boat tours on the river there. I have been on the same river between Houyet and Anseremme in a kayak, and I must say it is rather nice. It would be good to have a guided tour of Brussels though, the ones on foot leave from the visitor's centre in the Grand' Place. You can also get maps of self-guided walks (like the cartoon walk, or Art Nouveau) from the visitor's centre there and do that yourselves. They used to be free but I would not be surprised if nowadays you pay a little bit for them. When I first moved to Brussels I did one of the guided tours on foot and even now there are things I learned about the most interesting buildings that I still remember and have told other people about.

Lavandula
Thank you! I think you're right, that we could do Dinant ourselves and would not want a long drive our first day there. I wish we could do a night in Brussels when we arrive, but I've sort of based things around a specific bed & breakfast in Bruges that I want to stay at, and they have limited availability - so I might have to stick to it as it is and we just have to suffer through the (1 1/2 hour?) drive from Brussels to Ypres when we land, and then can relax in Ypres. Then on our Friday, when we have nothing to do in Brussels, maybe we'll do a day trip via train to Dinant. Thank you!!
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