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rapunzll Nov 11th, 2004 09:00 AM

Benelux Countries- where to start?
My daughter is in the army stationed in the Netherlands with her husband. I plan on going to visit them sometime in the first half of 2005. She won't be able to take a whole week off for my visit, so I'll be on my own for a few days.

She's about an hour from Brussels and less than that to Antwerp. I am wondering what city might be a good place for me to start. I don't want to land at an airport that is way out in the middle of nowhere as I don't plan on renting a car. So, I need a city with a safe downtown area where there is a lot to see and do within walking distance of not too pricey hotels. I need good access to airport transport as well as access to the train station.

I will be traveling alone, and my funds are limited. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Budman Nov 11th, 2004 09:17 AM

Where is your daughter stationed? She should have the lay of the land since she's been there for a while, and can advise you on the logistics for day trips.

Are you seeing her first, then taking off on day trips? Will she be taking day trips with you during her weekends off? Is rail convenient? What places are you going to see with her, and which places on your own?

I would ask some of those questions of her. ((b))

suesnothome Nov 11th, 2004 09:18 AM


You could land in Brussells and take the train to Bruge. Bruge is a great place to wander around. I spent 2 days there and wasn't ready to leave. Very charming.

That's the only place I've been in that area besides Brussells, so someone else will have more suggestions. Enjoy!

Tulips Nov 11th, 2004 09:30 AM

If she is close to Antwerp, then you could stay there. If you fly to Brussels you can take a train there; the old centre is a short walk from the station. There are some good museums, including the house where the painter Rubens lived.
And from Antwerp you can easily get to The Netherlands and anywhere else you want to go by train; Brugge, Brussels, Amsterdam. Is your daughter somewhere near Roosendaal or Bergen op Zoom? If so, then Antwerp is probably most convenient.

I can't help with hotels, since I live near Antwerp, so don't stay in hotels there, but if you need any more info, let me know!

ira Nov 11th, 2004 10:33 AM

Hi rap,

How far from Amsterdam?

Schipol is probably the airport with the most flights for you.

Brussels would be next.

Bruge is a nice town to visit.

rapunzll Nov 11th, 2004 10:34 AM

Thanks all! She's in Brunssom. I figure I will have a long weekend with her, but will probably start out elsewhere and then go to their place.

She suggested I go to Amsterdam first, and mentioned a couple of towns she thought I would like, but she didn't know much about the ease of getting around once I got there.

Bruges sounds good as does Antwerp, are both cities safe for a single woman to be wandering around?

As you can see, I'm just starting to plan this trip.

Budman Nov 11th, 2004 10:56 AM

OK, I would fly into Brussels, do Brussels, Brugges, maybe stop in Gent, to Amsterdam, and then train to Maastricht. She could pick you up at the train station there -- it's pretty close. You could do any combination of the above. As long as you stay around the center of the towns, you will be perfectly safe on your own.

There have been several threads about hotels and B&B's to stay in Brugges. You might want to do a search, but caution on the spelling of Brugges/Bruges/Bruge/Brugge when you search

Then, on weekends with your Daughter, you could do day trips to Aachen, Monschau, and maybe dip down to the Rhine River. ((b))

hopscotch Nov 11th, 2004 11:24 AM

Fly into Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

I would recommend Haarlem as a place to stay. Do a search for B&Bs there, and Leiden and the Hague. These are all pleasant, non-touristy, and very interesting cities. Visit Amsterdam, but you don't need to stay there. Watch out for pickpockets in A'dam, but don't worry about muggings and physical crime as we have in major cities in the USA.

Trains and buses in The Netherlands and Belgium are excellent and frequent. You don't need a car, and would certainly find it more of a nuisance than anything.

You will be heartily welcomed in The Netherlands, especially by the older people, if you mention that your daughter is in the Army. They are still very grateful for the services of the United States Army in WWII. They surrendered to hitler in 5 days and lived under his heel for 5 years until our men liberated them.

Tulips Nov 12th, 2004 03:43 AM

Brunssum is close to Maastricht. Brussels Airport will be closer than Amsterdam. I wouldn't stay near Amsterdam; it's a long train ride to Maastricht. The same from Brugge.

Maastricht is a lovely town; pretty, very nice atmosphere, friendly. Why not stay there, and take daytrips from Maastricht? It's a Dutch town, but very close to both Belgium and Germany.

Have a look at some train sites and see where you can easily go by train from Maastricht.

Tulips Nov 12th, 2004 03:49 AM

rapunzl; the Dutch train website is

Click on English, at the top of the page.

Just a random check on the timetable, showed that Brugge would be 3 hours, Amsterdam about the same. With changes of trains. I assume that you would like to stay somewhere closer to where your daughter is. Let me know if you need more info. I do not know any budget hotels in that area, so can't help there.

rapunzll Nov 12th, 2004 06:56 AM

Thanks for all the info and suggestions. It's greatly appreciated. I finally ordered a guidebook, that will probably help some as well. I think I'd better get a decent map of the area!

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