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If this is Tuesday...it must be Belgium

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Feb 28th, 2013, 09:00 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 51
If this is Tuesday...it must be Belgium

To all, first, I would like to thank anyone who responds!!

We will be traveling to Brussels mid-May and are currently trying to nail down what we will do for the next seven days (Thursday-Thursday)...based in Brussels.

We plan to take side-trips to Brugges, Ghent and possibly Antwerp...are these worth doing?

Should we do it on our own or use the package tours to these locations?

Our plan would be to do the comprehensive Brussels guided trip on our first full day and then choose the venues/areas we would like to return to for additional touring.

Also, is Antwerp worth going to and and do they have a diamond center worth visiting...particularly on the retails side. Not to make any large diamond purchase but, rather, a small ring, etc.?

We are in our mid/late sixties and enjoy shopping, museums, operas/symphonies, and good restaurants, etc. so any must-see's/do's which should be included in our planning?

I know this is a lot and can be wearisome for some respondents and I do have some guide books but would like real world experience/opinions as well from people who have a passion to help provide suggestions for a memorable trip!

Thank you again!

Walt
ddschur is offline  
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Feb 28th, 2013, 09:08 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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You can do this on your own. You can just get the train which is cheap and relatively efficient.

Antwerp is worth going to but diamonds are not really worth buying there unless you are buying something pretty expensive and you have a contact with the dealers. The diamond district itself is not what you'd expect and is pretty sketchy.

I would visit Bruges then Ghent OR Antwerp - then perhaps a city in the French speaking region - like Dinant or Liege
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Feb 28th, 2013, 09:12 AM
  #3
 
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Ghent and Bruges are worth it:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...60079007/show/
Michael is offline  
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Feb 28th, 2013, 09:17 AM
  #4
 
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First, I'd like to say thank you for giving some information with which to respond. So many people don't bother but it's really helpful to know your interests.

Bruges is wonderful but I would go there on a weekday to avoid throngs of visitors. I enjoyed my 2 visits there. Some things of note:

- Memling Museum
- Beguinage (Begijnhof)
- Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve Vrouwekerk) with the Michelangelo Madonna and Child
- Brangwyn Museum lace collection
- Canal boat tour

There's a whole lot more to see and I recommend 2 days in Bruges.

I would not take a package tour as you'll want time on your own to explore. It's also less expensive to explore on your own, saving money to buy more chocolate and beer!!! Bruges is small and you can walk around it easily.

I wouldn't spend the time on the train every day (an hour on the train each way plus time getting to and from the stations). And I would far rather stay in Bruges than Brussels (any many people share this opinion). Bruges is even more magical at night than it is in the day time.

If you could split your time and stay in Bruges for several nights you can visit Gent in 30 minutes on the train. You can visit Antwerp from Brussels in 30 minutes.

Enjoy!
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Feb 28th, 2013, 09:20 AM
  #5
 
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maybe I missed it, but do you need to stay in brussels the entire time? I like Bruges at night. It has soft lighting and fewer tourists.
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Feb 28th, 2013, 09:32 AM
  #6
 
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ddschur,

I think Brugges, Ghent and Antwerp are ALL worth visiting. You might want to wait until you arrive to finalize plans and going with whatever strikes your fancy on any given day (weather that day may influence choices).

Brugges, Ghent and Antwerp are all easily reachable by train from Brussels. The longest train trip (Brussels to Bruges) is only a little over an hour one-way.

As already mentioned, it would be nice to split your stay and spend a few nights in Bruges, but it is by no means a requirement. You'll have a wonderful trip either way (staying in Brussels or splitting your time).

You might want to look at my 8-day Belgium trip report for ideas on things to do/see/eat/drink. http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...aster-2011.cfm
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Feb 28th, 2013, 10:16 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
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You'll likely qualify for the senior rate on the Belgium train system. Quite inexpensive! and I agree--no need for a tour.
aprillilacs is offline  
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Feb 28th, 2013, 10:50 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
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I adore Antwerp, was bored by Brugges after 2 daysoverrrun with tourists!Antwerp has exceptional museums , the harbor, churches larg and small and great food goood transportation andwalkable
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Feb 28th, 2013, 11:38 AM
  #9
 
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Ghent might make a good base, being halfway between Bruges and Brussels.
Michael is offline  
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Mar 1st, 2013, 06:23 AM
  #10
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Again, thank you to everyone for your input!

All the info was relevant and extremely helpful for my wife and me.
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