brussels/bruges in december

Old Sep 21st, 2006, 11:22 AM
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brussels/bruges in december

i am planning a short trip to brussels and bruges in early december. i am planning to stay at the hotel amigo (anyone stay here?) and then take a day trip to bruges.

i will arrive in brussels in the morning of december 6, then have all day to explore. then december 7 we will leave for bruges (for the day only). then we leave brussels mid day on december 8.

what i would love is:
1. brussels -- MUST EAT/MUST DO/MUST BUY
2. bruges -- recommendations for a day trip (including a good lunch place)
3. weather? what should we wear?

thank you so much for the help!!!
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Old Sep 21st, 2006, 04:04 PM
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For Brussels, must eat include mussels and fries, and chocolates. There're plenty of chocolate shops in Brussels, including Pierre Marcolini, Wittamer etc.

Must do? What I think is "must do" is very subjective. You should spend some time in Grand Place. I personally find the Royal Museum of Fine Arts superb - if you're into art.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 01:31 AM
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For Brussels, visit the Grand'Place of course. Maybe the renovated Atomium. Have dinner at one of the restaurants on the Sablon or perhaps try one of the Brussels classics like Les Brasseries Georges on the corner of Ave. Winston Churchill and Chaussee Waterloo.
The first thing you MUST buy is a copy of the Bulletin, the English language newsmag for Brussels (mostly) and the rest of Belgium (to a lesser extent). Flip through the What's On section to see if there are any special exhibitions etc. you'd like to try. Get a copy in the newstand at the airport. Unfortunately for you, new issues come out on Thursdays (except for one store near the EU that gets them late Wednesday afternoon), so there's a chance it may be sold out by your arrival date.
Must buy...hmmm, what's your budget and taste? If I wanted to splurge, then a Delvaux purse would be my "must buy", although I like their store in Bruges better than the ones in Brussels. And even bigger splurge would be something swish to wear from Natan on the Ave. Louise.
One funny thing about Brussels shoppinng, you can often find the designer "it" bags there that are completely sold out in London and Paris.
Chocolate, of course. Beer if you're a beer drinker. To take with you and/or enjoy on site. A pastry from Wittamer on the Sablon.
If you'd like to treat yourself to an inexpensive souvenir for the kitchen, check out La Vaisselle au Kilo on a tiny alley off the Sablon. For example, they stock the same gold-rimmed coffee cups and saucers used at several famous Brussels cafes, including the Cafe Metropole and La Chaloupe d'Or (on the Grand'Place).
In Bruges, leave as early as you can in the morning or come back late so you can see what the city is like in its "off hours."
We like to lunch at Bonheur on Smedenstraat, not far from 'tZand, but it's a little off the beaten path.

We really need to know your tastes and budget before recommending places to eat/shop.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2006, 09:13 AM
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thanks so much for the posting and the recs! in response to btilke, i would like to add some more specific tastes and budget.

for dinners, we like to go to the authentic, delicious places in town that locals know and love. we value the food over the decor. we love cheap divey places where locals dine (lunch?), but are willing to spend up to around $150 inc drinks for a really nice meal.

for drinks, we love cool, contemporary, designed lounges -- hot spots, but not dance clubs.

for shopping, i love interesting shoes and bags. love local goods that i can use at home. if luxury goods are more available in brussels, that's very good to know. but i also like little fun shops to browse.

to do, we do love art and my husband loves history and old churches. i prefer to shop and people watch and soak up the culture. because we only have a day and a half or so, we'll probably only want to hit one "tourist" must visit.

any recommendations for weather and what to pack/wear?

thank you soooo much!
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Old Sep 25th, 2006, 07:14 AM
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weatherwise, it can get damp and VERY cold around that time. Make sure you have good walking shoes, ideally water-proof. You'll need winter coats--wool, quilted, fur, or whatever. Bring hats, gloves, scarves.

I second Brussels Royal Museum of Fine Arts. Antique markets nr Sablon on weekends. Also Horta house if you like Art Deco designs. Seafood restaurants nr St. Katherine's Dock (sp?)--lots of oysters outside of stores. Just a reminder the sun sets early--it'll be dark by around 4:30-5pm.
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Old Sep 25th, 2006, 08:58 AM
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Don't forget Waterloo just a few minutes south of Brussels. A great sight recently updated with a museum in the round showing the battlefield. If you have an extra hour or two well worth the time.
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