How do I divide my time up in Belgium

Old Mar 15th, 2015, 01:27 PM
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How do I divide my time up in Belgium

My husband and I will be driving to Belgium after our stay in Normandy. We have plenty of time for Belgium where we have never been before. We plan on going to Luxembourg after Belgium eventually flying home from Frankfurt.

I know my husband would be very interested to set up private tours of the WWI (Flanders Fields) sites and WWII Battle of the Bulge sites. I am very confused about how much time to spend in the cities of Belgium (Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and maybe Antwerp) and whether we should stay in one place and do some of these as day trips or move around. Also, how much time needs to be allotted to the WWI and the WWII sites?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 02:02 PM
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You can stay right in Ypres there are some very nice hotels You can pick up a tour at Flanders field Museum,it will often be private as we have never shared with anyone. Be sure to spend at least one night so you an attend Last post at Menin Gate. If you are driving you can also drive Mt Kimmel. Brussels did not interest as much as Antwerp,But we loved our hotel ,the Welcome , near center and good transport close by/
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 02:38 PM
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IMHO Brussels is kind of boring. Bruges is charming and you can stay there and take a quick 30 minute train ride to Ghent. I would allow one day (in transit) for Brussels, 3 nights for Bruges (one day there and one in Ghent - plus a couple for Antwerp.

If would help to know how much time overall you have allocated for this trip.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 03:04 PM
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Look at a map. Ghent is in the middle of the triangle fromed by Brussels, Antwerp and Bruges. It might make sense to stay there and use the train to visit the other cities.

To whet your appetite:
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 05:31 PM
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Thank you all so much. We are using up about 1 week of our trip time for Paris (we've been there before) and Normandy and we usually go away for 3 weeks so we are very flexible how much of the 2 weeks remaining we use in Brussels.

Thanks so much for the advice. I really appreciate it.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 07:20 PM
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I would suggest that you take a look at some guide books
and decide what you want to see the most.

Brussels is often short changed on this forum. Its sights are more spread out, and its an EU center. But it has many museums, including a comic book one, and is a center of art nouveau, and has many Michelin starred and recommended restaurants. Hotel rates are generally cheaper in August and on weekends

If you stay in Bruges you can easily take a train and spend a day in Ghent. No need to change accommodations to go to Ghent,

Consider spending 2 nights in the Ardennes so that you get a full day at the WWII sites/musuems. Bastonge is close to the Luxembourg border.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 08:37 PM
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Brussels is probably the UGLIEST city in Europe.

It is uglier than Kim Kardashian in a white fishnet bodysuit and pink Martin Margiela boots.

And why would anyone want to take a holiday in Luxembourg? Do you self- flagellate?

A day in Frankfurt is enough penance.

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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 08:37 PM
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We stayed in Bruges for 4 nights and could have stayed a little longer. We stayed at the Hotel Oud Huis de Peellaert which was very comfortable.
While in Bruges we took a tour of WWI battle sites from Quasimodo It was very well done.
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 01:51 PM
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I, too, spent 4 nights in Bruges and could have spent longer. This was my itinerary (taken from various sources and forum postings):

* 4 remaining windmills outside walls

* 4 remaining Medieval City Gates: Gentpoort, Kruisport, Ezelpoort, and Smedepoort -Beginning of 15th Century

* Canal Cruise on De Lamme Goedzaak - Sails between Bruges and Damme - 45 minutes

* Cathedral - Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig Bloedbasilick) Blood of Jesus. The chapel of the Holy Blood is actually a double chapel which can be visited on the 'Burg' square in Bruges. One can enter the church on the first floor where the Holy Blood is kept via the 'Steeghere' which is a beautifully decorated façade behind which a staircase leads to the first floor. The relic is shown to the public every Friday. Reliquary can be seen in the Museum of the Holy Blood next door to the Holy Blood Chapel.

* Town Hall and Burg Square, Office of the Town Clerks (Oude Griffie), and justice buildings Go inside! One of the most beautiful buildings of Bruges can be seen here : the gothic town hall from 1376 is one of most beautiful bldgs in Belgium

* Huidenvettersplein has some of the best restaurants in the city and the VIEW over the waters of the Burgundian Cross is STUNNING

* Some old patrician houses still have window panes of Venetian glass - House # 7 on Dijiver is worth noting.

* The Groeninge Museum Small museum in both size and collection, quality is fantastic! Collection of Flemish masters. Museum's masterpiece is 'The Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele', which Van Eyck painted in 1436
'Death of the Holy Virgin' by Hugo van der Goes, and 'The altar of Saint Christopher' by Hans Memling, Located in a former Augustian monestary.

* The Gruuthuse Museum - Furniture, tapestries, silver, etc. of life in the 16th and 17th C Bruges

* Church of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk)- Mary of Burgundy and Chas the Bold tombs and several Old Master paintings are the highlight. Don't miss Michelangelo's Madonna & Child sculpture (only Michelangelo sculpture to leave Italy during his lifetime. Largest Gothic church in low countries built in 13th C. Served as royal wedding chapels to dukes of Burgundy

* Holy Savior's Cathedral (St. Salvatorskathedraal)- The other major church, also houses Burgundian masterpieces. Gothic choir stalls. Founded in 646.

* Canal Ride/tour - Neat to see town from canal and offers a good overview of the historic center

* De Halve Maan Brewery beer tour and tasting

* Hospital Museum - St. John's Hospital (Memlingmuseum housed the 13th C St. Janshospitaal)

* Great photo op from bridge to left of canal and hospital

* In front of Our Lady's church stands the large complex of the medieval St. John's hospital, one of the oldest still existing hospitals in Europe. In 1978 it lost its function as hospital and harbors now the Memling museum, the hospital museum and the old pharmacy.

* Minnewater - Minnewater and its lovely park are the entrance to the beautiful city of Bruges. The Minnewater is a canalized lake. From the bridge (1740) one can already enjoy a nice panoramic view over the town. Because of the idyllic surroundings it is mostly referred to as 'the lake of Love', the Dutch word 'Minne' meaning 'love'. Gorgeous view!!!

* Beginhof - ( Prinselijk Begijnhof ten Wijnarde) - One of the most enchanting nooks in Bruges: Beguines residence founded in 1245. Just behind the Minnewater lies the Beguinage 'De Wijngaard' (= the Vineyard). It is one of those typical areas in Bruges where one can find more peace and quiet than in the sometimes busy and overcrowded streets of the town center. The Beguinage is a group of houses around a little garden covered with large poplar trees. It was here that during the last seven centuries lived the beguines of Bruges. In 1937 the beguinage became a monastery for the Benedictine sisters who still live here now.

* Kantcentrum (lace center) - you can buy lace and watch the craft being practiced

* Streets and Alleys north of Markt - Spanjardstraat leads to oldest bridge in city, you also see Spaanse Looskai, Oosterlingenplein and the Natiehaus (Nation House of Genoa). Headqtrs of Florentines at corner of Vlamingstraat and Academiestraat (now chic restaurant), Venetian residence down street a bit further. Old Customs House is one of most beautiful and ornately decorated gothic bldgs of Bruges on Academiestraat.

* Chocolate Museum and Frites Museum

* Fish market and craft stalls

* Market square and belfry tower - completely refurbished and is now one of the most attractive parts of the city. The main monument is of course the belfry tower and the cloth hall. On the Northern side of the Market is the Provincial Court.
The belfry tower charms the visitor with the lovely music of a carillion, which consists of 47 bells. 366 steps to top for a beautiful view!

* Good photo op - from the bell tower 366 steps up!!!

* Good photo op - Groenerei canal from far side of bridge looking towards cathedral

* Good photo op - view of canal beside St. Janshopsitaal
* A favorite part of Brugge was around the river and windmills and the church of St Anne's -- a great, classic early 20th century Belgian residential neighborhood

* Jerusalem church has preserved its original style almost completely. The beautiful stained glass windows date from 1482 and 1560. Behind the lower altar is a small space which suggests the tomb of Christ.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2015, 07:09 PM
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Thank you so much everyone especially joannyc (we are also from NYC) for all this wonderful information. It's taken me a while to check back here because my mother is in the hospital but I was so happy to see this. Joannyc all this information is so wonderful. I can't wait to go to Brugge now.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2015, 07:33 PM
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Hope your mother is doing well!

You are welcome, enjoy your trip!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 12:18 AM
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I studied in Belgium some years ago . One highlight was staying for some days in Brugges. We did a tour of WW1 towns etc with Quasimodo - an excellent guide whose family lived in the towns you visit eg Passchendale, Hill 60, Ypres and Menin Gate. An excellent tour.
In Brussels I loved Horta house which is the house and studio of architect Victor Horta.
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Old Mar 27th, 2015, 07:32 PM
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thank you northie We will definitely travel to the WWI and WWII battle sites since my husband is very interested in those. Thanks for the mention of Horta house. I will definitely look into that. I appreciate your information
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