Day trips based in Gent.

Old Aug 17th, 2008, 03:16 AM
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Day trips based in Gent.

Hi ya gang,
The better half and myself are off to Gent again for a long weekend at the begining of december (12th -15th), we will be landing in brussels in the morning (about 10ish). We did the same trip last year, staying in Gent and having day trips to brussels, bruge & lille. It was so wonderful looking round the xmas markets, eating real belgium chocolates and enjoying the the many churches. We would be interested in hearing any suggestions of different day trips with Gent being our base. we would be using public transport with train journeys being no longer than 2 hrs. We really enjoy sitting in coffee shops watching the world go by, xmas markets and the oppertunity to sample local produce as well as mixing with more of the local population than other tourists. Hope anyone can assist.

Kindest Regards

LL
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Old Aug 17th, 2008, 04:34 AM
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I am planning to visit friends in Brussels in late October. I have also visited Ghent and Brugge on an earlier trip.

The other trips my friends recommend for history/art/architecture are Antwerp, Mechelen and Leuven. One of these friends is a travel writer so I trust his judgment

Great chocolate and beer are available pretty much everywhere

I was just doing some research yesterday and found an interesting recent article in the NYTimes about the beguinages or begijnhofs which might interest you:
http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/07/13...3journeys.html
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Old Aug 17th, 2008, 05:12 AM
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Ieper, Leuven, and Antwerp all fit your bill.
One place that's well off the usual tourist radar that we liked much more than we expected to is Diest. Pleasant to stroll around, some interesting buildings, etc. Has no "must see" attractions, but it's a slice of nontouristy Belgium you might enjoy. About 90 minutes from Ghent by train (one change).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diest

P.S. Diest's beer, Gildenbier, is known for going well with chocolate. It's hard to find on tap except in Diest. We stopped at a cafe to try it and were so happy with it, the friendly cafe owners insisted we keep the special mugs it was served in.
http://www.haacht.com/jsp/index.jsp?...t_folderid=163
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Old Aug 17th, 2008, 05:32 AM
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Forgot to add that some of the trains to Diest stop in Antwerp and others stop in Leuven, so you could do both in one day...take an early morning train to Diest, spend a few hours walking around, have a light lunch, then catch a train back to Antwerp or Leuven, spend the rest of the day there, then head home to Ghent. If you buy a special "via" ticket, you can stop off in Antwerp or Leuven without paying for separate tickets.

If you go to Diest via Antwerp you'll change trains in Antwerp Centraal or Antwerp-Berchem. The trains that go from Ghent to Diest and stop at Leuven are direct (no changes) but pass through Brussels, not Antwerp.
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Old Aug 17th, 2008, 05:36 AM
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I didn't realize that there was a beer that is supposed to go well with chocolate. Hard to imagine

In addition to the chocolate there are other traditional treats in December
http://www.visitbelgium.com/mediaroo...masMarkets.htm
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Old Aug 17th, 2008, 07:30 AM
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I really enjoyed the fine arts museum in Antwerpen, an unrenovated classic from a bygone era of imperial royal museums with a lovely collection. Plus there is the cathedral, inside and out, and several pleasant pedestrianized areas in the heart of town, and art deco snd attractive art galleries to enjoy. In the short days of December, I wouldn't want to try to combine Antwerpen with another destination. It's a very rich town.
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