Brussels in July

Old Feb 12th, 2006, 09:34 AM
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Brussels in July

We are considering 6 days in Europe the week of July 4 and Brussels is on the list. How does Brussels stack up against the major cities? Do you feel we'll have enough to do? What's a good location to be staying in the city? Are day trips to Paris or London feasable? Do the locals like Americans? Can you recommend a good higher end hotel?
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Old Feb 12th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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I've heard of people doing day trips to Paris from Brussels, I'm not sure about London. Personally I don't think you can do justice to either of these cities in a day, but if that's all the time you have, then it's better than not going. I think there are some much better day trips you can do from Brussels. I spent several days in Bruges and I highly recommend a full day there. Antwerp is also a fine city. I've never been to Ghent, but I've heard a lot of great things about it.

As far as liking Americans, Brussels is like any other city in the world. People will treat you the way you treat them. Ignore any generalizations you have heard.

My hotel was not exactly higher end, so I'll leave that for someone else to answer.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 06:43 AM
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Hi there. Paris is certainly reachable from Brussels as a day trip. It is about an hour and 20 minutes each way on the TGV (high speed). The cost per ticket ranges from 50 Euros to 130 Euros depending on special deals and when you book. My recommendation is to book those tickets well in advance. London is more like 3 hours on the high speed (Eurostar) unless you fly. So Paris is a more reasonable choice. Amsterdam, by the way, is about 2 hours by train.

Past that, as the other poster says, Brugges, Antwerp, etc, are nice trips within Belgium. Both cities are close and the train tickets are very very affordable.

As for hotels and areas. I happen to think that the Louise and Prt de Namur areas are a good bet for tourists. It's safe, clean, accessible, and pleasant. You can easily get "downtown" from there to see some of the old sights. Staying downtown (Bourse, Grand Place, etc,) can be a little more hectic.

I'd say:

Sofitel on Toison D'Or (Quariter Louise)
SAS Radisson EU
Conrad Hotel (the MOST upscale)
Warwick Barsey

The Meridien (very famous)
Le Dixseptieme
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 06:57 AM
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I would add to that list the Manos Premier. Actually, I think that for the average visitor, you get better rooms and service at the MP than at the Conrad--reviews from Fodorites who've stayed there and from TA are mixed at best. I do know that when I used to pop into the Conrade (to answer a craving for a club sandwich), the service was very haphazard.
The MP has a lovely garden and its Kolya bar is attractive.

There is also the Montgomery Hotel by the Montgomery circle. Less well known, but very well regarded. In a residential area, but right near a metro stop and close to two nice shopping street with cafes, etc. Also near the Parc Woluwe, a beautiful green space for relaxing on a summer's day.

A day trip to Paris is very feasible. London is doable also, but it's a longer train ride and also has mandatory check in times. To go to Paris, you can hop on the Thalys 2 minutes before it leaves (not advisable, though). I've done several dozen day trips to Paris from Brussels.

Yes, you can find plenty to do for six days, esp. if you build in some day trips.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 07:25 AM
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Brussels has a big festival, the Ommegang, the first week in July. Quite by accident I was there during it in 1996. It's quite the spectacle, including a human chess game (complete with medieval costumes) in the Grand Place. Here's a website:

I think they charge for seating for the actual event, but I was able to see the dress rehearsal the day before the performance, just by walking to the Grand Place. There's a parade too.

I stayed in a budget pension a block away from the Grand Place, which doesn't sound to be your scene. But that area is definitely a great place to be.

I like the museums in Brussels very much. The Fine Arts Museum has one of David's most sublime paintings, the Death of Marat. The Royal Museums of Art and History, further out from downtown in the Parc du Cinquantenaire (sp? that looks wrong) is also a great collection.

I personally od'd on chocolate and waffles while in Brussels. ;-)
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