Brugge-Brussels-Antwerp

Mar 11th, 2006, 03:38 PM
  #1  
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Brugge-Brussels-Antwerp

We are driving to Brugge from Trier and spending four nights there. Our plan was to spend a day sightseeing in Brugge, take the train to Brussels and back for a day, and take the train to Antwerp and back for a day. Walking is difficult for me and we have a disabled placard.

I am wondering about the feasibility of driving to Brussels and back one day and driving to Antwerp and back another day. We could park, perhaps close to local transportation in each city, and use it to get into the center of town each place.

Or, we could drive directly into the Grand Place in Brussels and a suitable spot in Antwerp, pay the parking charges and, perhaps, benefit from the handicapped placard to save standing around waiting for trains.

Being a Californian the traffic doesn't bother me and I'm reconciled to paying parking fees to save steps.

Comments, please.

Thanks,
BigBlue
BigBlue is offline  
Mar 11th, 2006, 03:49 PM
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If you are planning on parking once you get to these towns, you might as well (if it's not physically an issue) take the train and leave your car in Bruge. From my research(I'm doing a similar trip in two weeks), there is parking in Bruges, but not in these big cities. The train from Bruges to Antwerp and to Brussels is quite reasonable and fast. Train stations get you into the center of town. How will you get around once in town though? Just my thoughts, if you can do a train, avoid driving, relax and enjoy the scenery on the train.
TamaraEden is offline  
Mar 11th, 2006, 08:12 PM
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I've not been to Brussels, but I have been to Antwerp, and I would not suggest you take the train, because Antwerp's train station is filled with grandiose, 3-story marble staircases.

Instead, I would suggest that you drive from Brugge to the Antwerp train station, where you could park you car and easily find a taxi to take you to the main square (the Grote Markt). It won't cost you much. Six-10 euros?

Right in the Grote Markt is Antwerp's truly excellent Tourist Office. I would asking them about the accessible sites and streets and how to use Antwerp's nifty, clattering trolleys (that look like something out of those black and white movies about Europe you used to see). If you are into old-fashioned museums (the kind with velvet wall coverings and tufted velvet circular benches), the Fine Arts Museum is great fun. If you see another toursit there, let me know.

I'm so glad to hear somebody is going to Antwerp! It's a terrifically interesting city. You surely will want to see the cathedral and the main square. I hope you like chocolate, and have time for lunch. The food is just as good as the food you'll get in Brugge.

If you are into old-fashioned museums (the kind with velvet wall coverings and tufted velvet circular benches), the Fine Arts Museum is great fun. If you see another toursit there, let me know. I never visited its Diamond District, but that may be interesting.

Since you are driving, I wouldn't recommend drinking, but Antwerp is famous for making specialty gins that aren't like any gin you've ever tasted. They are incredibly refined. You might consider asking at the tourist office if there is someplace to convenient to buy a bottle. And if you like beer, apparently what's on tap in the Grote Markt is some of the freshest beer in Belgium.

And I think the chocolate is better in Antwerp than Brugge because it's chances of being made just a few hours before are greater.

Have a good time!

PS: If you are shameless like me, you can e-mail some grand hotel in Antwerp and ask them where you can find public parking if you stay at their hotel.




nessundorma is offline  
Mar 11th, 2006, 08:19 PM
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We'll be going to Brugge albeit one of those marathon one day tours, but, nevertheless we'll get to visit. Thanks for the Antwerp tips (especially about the chocolate) because that sounds like a place we would like to visit on another trip.

I would be shameless and email a grand hotel about the info. too.
francophile03 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2006, 08:22 PM
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Good advice about parking from Nessudorma. Since I've not been, that isn't something I even considered. I did just think of something though. You might want to go by a Borders or Barnes and Noble. Go to the travel book section. Take a look at, or puurchase, the Rick Steve's Accesible Europe book. SOunds like it would be perfect for you. Have a blast.

Oh, and I am also going to Antwerp, totally looking forward to it.
TamaraEden is offline  
Mar 11th, 2006, 08:34 PM
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If you are taking the train, TamaraEden, drink that gin! This is the place to do it: Da Vagrant

http://www.worldsbestbars.com/city/a...nt-antwerp.htm

Big Blue, take note! I just noticed that you can buy miniature bottles of "jenever" (that's the gin, which comes in so many flavors) right at the Da Vagrant bar or across the street.

By the way, the completely pedestrianized streets where Da Vagrant is located are very flat and smooth.

nessundorma is offline  
Mar 11th, 2006, 08:39 PM
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Nessundorma? Did you intentionally call it "Da Vagrant"? LOL
TamaraEden is offline  
Mar 12th, 2006, 12:23 AM
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Parking is easy in Antwerp; there are so many garages there. I've never had a problem, unless maybe on a Saturday, when it's busy.
There's a large garage on the Groenplaats, practically next to the cathedral. Or use the one called 'Grote Markt' which is also convenient, and a little easier to get to, since it's just opposite the river and the 'Steen' fortress. Further along the river there is free parking as well, but it would be a slightly longer walk.
As suggested, the tourism office is excellent. From there, it's not far to Rubens' house.
Buy chocolates at Pierre Marcolini (Huidevetterstraat) or Swertvaehger (Schuttershofstraat). Have lunch at Het Vermoeide Model, right next to the cathedral (Lijnwaadmarkt 2).
I don't know about parking in Brussels; I always find it a hassle to drive to Brussels.
In Brugge, there is a bit of a walk to the train station from the center of town as well.

Don't worry about the traffic. It can get busy at rush hours, but if your from California, you will be used to that. In Antwerp, there is some work going on in the center of town. It's best to follow the road along the river; you'll be closer to the old town as well.
If you go to the Fine Arts museum (Museum van Schone Kunsten) park at Vlaamse Kaai. It's free, and plenty of space. Lots of nice restaurants near there as well.
Let me know if you need further info!
Tulips is offline  
Mar 12th, 2006, 01:51 AM
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Even though the Antwerp train station is full of marble stair cases, there are elevators present for people with lesser mobility.

As for chocolate and food and gin, they are great everywhere, and I think it's quite absurd that they'd be better in Antwerp than in Brugge. The special thing about the gin is that you don't just have the 'classic' young or old gin, but it comes in all the fruit flavours you can think of. It's quite sweet, and contains about 20 alcohol, and because of it's sweetness, it's extremely dangerous (and yummy !)
For me, the best Belgian chocolates are from Pierre Marcolini. He has a shop in Antwerp in de Huidevettersstraat 38.

If you're looking for another town to visit, may I advise you Ghent? If you take trips from Bruges to either Antwerp or Brussels, you pass there. From the train station you can take a tram straight into the center, and if you wish to drive, follow the signs to the underground parking "Sint-Michiels".

One warning though about Belgian cities: the historical centers are full of coble stones, which might be a bit annoying if you have difficulties when walking.

Enjoy your trip!
stardust is offline  
Mar 12th, 2006, 01:43 PM
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Well, you can't drive directly to the Grand'Place itself in Brussels, so figure out another way. The GP itself is off limits to all but official vehicles (police, ambulances, etc.) and a few commercial vehicles with special permits. Brussels also is a warren of one way streets and streets that are above and below each other (what were those medieval town planners thinking??). For Brussels, best bet is to catch a train to the Gare du Midi, take the escalator down to the main floor of the train station, then have a cab drop you off at the edge of the GP. After you see your fill, catch a cab back (if you don't see a taxi stand, have one of the hotels by the GP call one for you). Do not get off at Brussels Centrale, even though it's technically closer to the GP than Midi/Zuid. Centrale station has not been modernized the way Midi/Zuid has, it will involve a lot more walking.
Frankly, I think driving in Brussels is one of the worst places to drive in western Europe (outside of certain places in Italy, etc.). Not only do you have a confusing road layout, you have to contend with pedestrians who don't always follow traffic rules, trams, buses (both have right of way), and some truly awful drivers, many of whom have diplomatic plates.
BTilke is offline  
Mar 12th, 2006, 02:42 PM
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Gee, stardust. Have you tasted the chocolates in Antwerp as opposed to the ones in Brugge? It would appear your favorite chocolate shop is in Antwerp. Mine too. For a reason.

Where is there a place in Brussels where I can sample gin as good as that served in De Vagrant? I'm headed there in the fall.



nessundorma is offline  
Mar 12th, 2006, 11:16 PM
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BTilke; I absolutely agree with your description of Brussels traffic. I much prefer driving in London to Brussels. If I do drive there, it's to go to the Avenue Louise area, and I park at the Conrad hotel.
Tulips is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 01:02 AM
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Last night, my husband picked me up at the Gare du Midi (I had taken the day train back from Vienna). Although traffic was light (Sunday evening) we saw drivers running red lights, cutting across lanes without signaling, pulling out when they did not have the right of way, and cutting dangerously close in front of other drivers. Multiply that by 100 and you get the average rush hour driving experience in Brussels...who needs video games when you can drive around the Place Louise at 9 am?
BTilke is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 05:12 AM
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And when driving in Belgium, be aware that cars coming from the right have priority. So be very careful at cross roads. Even on busy roads, where you can drive 70 km an hour, sometimes the car coming from a small road on the right gets priority (unless otherwise stated).
Tulips is offline  
Mar 13th, 2006, 07:58 AM
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There is a lot of good and useful information here which I appreciate greatly. If I'm reading this all correctly, driving to Antwerp good, driving to Brussels bad. Sounds a reasonable solution to me.

Thanks to all,
BigBlue
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Mar 14th, 2006, 11:54 AM
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In Brussels you can easily park your car in the underground parking next to the Ibis Hotel Grand Place.
MyriamC is offline  
Mar 14th, 2006, 12:39 PM
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marking
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