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How many home bases do we need for 3 weeks in Belgium

How many home bases do we need for 3 weeks in Belgium

Old Dec 17th, 2013, 04:47 AM
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How many home bases do we need for 3 weeks in Belgium

I'm just beginning to plan a September 2014 trip to Belgium and I'm disappointed that Fodors does not have a guidebook for Belgium and my usually reliable public library has books that are rather outdated.

I'd like to use a slow travel approach to Belgium by spending one week somewhere on the eastern side of the country and one week on the western side and finish with a stay of up to a week in Brussels before flying home. I hope to select locations for each of those home bases that will allow daytrips to significant sights surrounding our base.

This will be our first trip dedicated to Belgium. In 2009 we spent an overnight in Bruges while driving between Amsterdam and northern France and on the same trip visited Tournai and Ghent as daytrips from Lille. Ghent was a mass of urban renewal chaos when we were there so I'd like to see in without all the detours.

Can I limit our stay to one week long stay to reach most of the Flanders part of Belgium and then move to somewhere in Eastern/Central Wallonia for a another week? I'd like to end with a few days in Brussels with a possible daytrip to Antwerp from there.

Can you offer any suggestions as to which locations would give good access for daytrips in Belgium. Thank you, Deborah
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 05:09 AM
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Hey Deborah,

Belgium has some very nice places and would love to go back to Brugge. Brussels was ok, but really a 1 day experience. I think in my own opinion, Belgium could be done in 1 week rather than 2. I hope you…I am sure you will have a great time!

Suzy
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 06:31 AM
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http://www.fodors.com/world/europe/belgium/
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 08:24 AM
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Gent or Bruges are great bases not only to go to each other but also for Antwerp - a totally unique city or to the coast - the North Sea coast makes a great place to visit even in September - cities like Oostende - the Queen of the Belgian Coast they say - Blakkenberg and others are really nice.

St Niklaas is a regional town often overlooked - between Gent and Antwerp it has I understand the largest town square in Belgium

In Antwerp don't miss Middleheim - a lovely outdoor statue park and indoor modern art museum in an old palace and also Cogels Osylei - an extraordinary street full of lovely Art-Nouveau circa 1900 houses - built at a time when Antwerp was one of the world's most prosperous cities.
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 08:31 AM
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https://www.google.com/search?q=coge...=1600&bih=1074

Cogels Osylei images
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 08:35 AM
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what transport will you be using to get about, bus, bike, train or car?
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 10:28 AM
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Thanks for the comments. We will rent a car for the two weeks we are not in Brussels. We do want to visit WWI sights which seems best served by a car. My husband and I are fair weather recreational bikers

At first I thought it would be pleasant to stay near the sea in Oostende but would that make for longer than an hour driving distances each way to sights?

Thanks for the helpful information. I'll check out the links provided. Deborah
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 10:48 AM
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If into WW1 sites then Verdun is not that much of a drive from Belgium and is of course the premier WW1 site

https://www.google.com/search?q=verd...w=1280&bih=859

Images of today's Verdun mixed in with real shots from WW 1 - I found it a fascinating place - trenches still around, etc. Just imagine the horror that went on here.
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 11:11 AM
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Palenq, we visited Verdun as a day trip from Metz a few years ago. This time maybe Bastogne and some of the museums dedicated to the First World War, truthfully, I'm not familiar with what WWI sights are to be found in Belgium yet. Thanks, Deborah
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 01:23 PM
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You might want to read these two excellent trip reports on touring the WWI battlefields.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ern-france.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...nd-picardy.cfm
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 01:30 PM
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http://www.ww1battlefields.co.uk/flanders/ypres.html

Ypres I think is about a major WW 1 battle site as there is in Flanders fields - still dotted by red poppies - the town itself has a sweet main square by the looks of the picture - I have not been there but thanks to your post here I have found another Belgian place to want to visit - seemingly exhausted all others!
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 01:38 PM
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Jean, thanks for reminding me of anselm's well written reports. I remember following them when he was originally posting; time for a re-read. Deborah
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 01:52 PM
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The Belgian coast (Oostende, Koksijde, De Panne, Nieuwpoort) is a good location to visit the Belgian WWI sites that are in the western part of Flanders. The city of Ieper (Ypres in English) and the surrounding area of the Ypres Salient is very interesting. Also Brugge (Bruges), Gent (Ghent) and Lille which is just across the French border are not too far away.
Approx. driving times:
Oostende-Ieper: 60 min. (*)
Oostende-Brugge: 40 min. (can easily be done by train)
Oostende-Gent: 60 min. (can easily be done by train)
Oostende-Lille/France: 60 min.

(*) There is an interesting route to drive: the Ypres Salient Route (70 kms): http://www.toerisme-ieper.be/en/page...autoroute.html - with nice weather you can cycle part of the route (35 kms): http://www.toerisme-ieper.be/en/page...s-salient.html

The Ardennes in southern/southeastern Belgium: a more or less central base would be La Roche-en-Ardenne.
Approx. driving times:
La Roche-Bastogne: 40 min.
La Roche-Durbuy: 40 min.
La Roche-Dinant: 75 min.
La Roche-Arlon: 75 min.
La Roche-Bouillon: 75 min.
La Roche-Spa: 60 min.
La Roche-Liège: 60 min.

But maybe it would be better to split up your stay in the Ardennes between Bastogne, which is pretty far south, and Liège. That way you could also visit Hasselt and Maastricht (Netherlands).

Daytrips to Antwerp, Mechelen, Leuven, ... can easily be done by train during your stay in Brussels.

That's it for now. If you have more questions, ... just ask!

Myriam (proud to be Antwerpian)
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 01:56 PM
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Pal, during a stay near Auxerre this September we had several conversations with a couple from Ypres. They gave me a few reasons to visit Belgium, one was Ypres with its' tribute to fallen soldiers that is done every evening. I want to attend this rememberance ceremony in person.

The other was that this couple and others that we encountered were so gosh darn enthusiatic about most aspects of life in Belgium that it made me want to do my own look-see. Thanks for the link to the battlefields. Deborah
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Old Dec 17th, 2013, 02:07 PM
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Myriam, thank you for your suggestions. I was wondering how to reach all the sights in Wallonia what seemed to be highlights IMO.

You sound so much like those fun loving people from Ypres we met this last time in France and the group of friends from Belgium that included us in their champagne tasting in Reims!!

Although my exposure to travelers from Belgium is admittedly very small, the ones I met certainly knew how to have a good time Deborah
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Old Dec 18th, 2013, 01:57 AM
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I agree that you should see and especially feel the Last Post at the Menin Gate in Ypres. It is very touching! Another 'must' is to visit the In Flanders Fields (interactive) museum, also in Ypres. And the Ypres Salient of course.

And yes, we know how to have a good time. Good food, good beers, good chocolate, ... this is Belgium!
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Old Dec 18th, 2013, 05:00 AM
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We based ourselves in Bastogne for several days and loved that village. We were on the beer trail of the Trappist monks but got so lost. It is very beautiful there and we loved driving the area. Historical places are marked well. We retraced my Dad's unit for the Battle of the Bulge. We had heard about all these places for so many years so was great to find Sadzot and St Vith.
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