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nonnafelice Sep 4th, 2005 10:17 AM

Christmas in Brussels?
For various personal reasons we really want to go to Europe this Christmas. At that time of year we can probably only afford to go on one of the air/hotel package deals like Not counting London, where we don't particularly want to go, the choices I could find in our budget range are Brussels, Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam.

We were in Paris for Christmas two years ago, and have been back to both Paris and Rome in the past year. So we were thinking of trying someplace new, and Brussels is the cheapest option.

I know the weather won't be good, but, hey, we live in Boston, and we will be going to California in January, so that isn't a huge factor. We love art and good food, and it seems as though we could find those in Brussels, along with a side trip to Bruges.

Also, how hard would it be to take a day trip to Amsterdam from Brussels? I see that the Rijksmuseum is open on Christmas Day, and was thinking that might be a possibility, especially since I doubt that there's a whole lot to do on Christmas Day itself in Brussels.

So ... does anyone have any thoughts on Brussels at Christmas? I don't really know much about the city, so would welcome any advice.

BTilke Sep 4th, 2005 12:31 PM

I've celebrated Christmas in Brussels four of the last six years, so it's ok for me, but we were living there. It has a Christmas market, but not as atmospheric as the ones in Germany (for one thing, it's usually raining). You might like Bruges better for Christmas, it seems more festive (and it's slightly more likely to have snow). Whether it's Brussels or Bruges, pick a hotel with a restaurant that would be open Christmas day in case you decide not to go to Amsterdam as many restaurants will be closed that day (we usually stay at the Sofitel in Bruges and I believe their restaurant would be open Christmas day). Christmas is a Saturday this year, so many restaurants will be closed Sunday, the 26th, as well (even those that might normally be open).

Actually, given your choices and goals, I think you might be happiest with Amsterdam as your base and spending Christmas there. You could do day trips to Haarlem, Delft, The Hague, and Middelburg (to visit an attractive town well off the tourist map). Or Brussels or Bruges.

Brussels at Christmas may strike you as grey and unattractive. It takes a while to know where the best bits are beyond the Grand'Place and Sablon.

nonnafelice Sep 4th, 2005 01:05 PM

Re " I think you might be happiest with Amsterdam as your base and spending Christmas there."

Thanks very much, BTilke ... do you mean you think there would be more going on in Amsterdam? Is there less of the "gray and unattractive" factor -- not counting the red lights, of course! ?

Maybe we really would be better off to go back to Paris, since we know we do love it there, and it's hard to run out of things to do in that city! We're still very undecided.

BTilke Sep 4th, 2005 01:12 PM

Amsterdam is very pretty (the food is better in Brussels, though). I prefer Paris to Amsterdam myself, but...depends on whether you'd prefer to try a change or want to go back to something you know you'd like.

I've been to Amsterdam a few times and never went to the red light district. You could easily skip that part of town entirely.

Is Vienna a possibility? Great food, great art, beautiful at Christmas.

nonnafelice Sep 5th, 2005 09:50 AM

Well, I just found some great package deals on Air France, so I think we will take one of those, probably for Nice. Thanks for encouraging me to keep looking!

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