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mp413 Oct 9th, 2003 10:44 AM

Is Antwerp worth stopping in?
I'll be in Paris and Belgium over New Year's. I'm definitely visiting Bruges, Ghent, and Brussels, and was wondering if I should also stop in Antwerp? Thoughts?

mian11224 Oct 9th, 2003 10:50 AM

Of course it depends on how much time you've got, but Antwerp is a nice city, and Rubens' house and the gallery are quite interesting. It's a short ride by train from Brussels, you could fit in one day.

Tulips Oct 9th, 2003 10:55 AM

I prefer Antwerp to Brussels, but then, I live near Antwerp, so may be biased. As mentioned, there is Rubens house, where he lived and worked. The cathedral, a beautiful Arts museum, several smaller museums. It depends on what you are interested in. It is a lovely city to stroll around in, lots of nice restaurants. There is a new fashion museum, currently showing an exhibition about Antwerp and Genua. If you need any more specific information, let me know!

mdv Oct 9th, 2003 10:58 AM

I liked Antwerp best of all, but I like cities. Lots to see, great fashion and art scene, very exciting city.

mp413 Oct 9th, 2003 11:15 AM

I'll have 9 days in Belgium, and I'm trying to figure out how to parce it. I definitely want to visit Ghent (love it), and Bruges in winter is gorgeous, but haven't been to Antwerp and remember nothing of Brussels (which leads me to believe I shouldn't spend too much time there). I also don't want to be moving around excessively--my boyfriend and I like to be able to get to know a place. Everyone here seems to think Bruges is a one-day affair... I was thinking of spending one night and one day in Brussels, then heading to Ghent for 2-3 days, then Bruges for the remainder. Thoughts? We live in the Stated so we crave that 'medieval' feel! We like museums, but prefer walking around beautiful streets with lots of age and character.

BTilke Oct 9th, 2003 12:03 PM

Re Ghent/Brugge, we take the opposite view. We've been to Ghent several times, for both business and leisure reasons, and found it lackluster. Brugge, however, has never stopped intriguing us after dozens of trips. It's far more beautiful than Ghent and magical at night when the day trippers are gone. For those who say it's nothing more than a tourist trap, we suggest getting beyond the heart of the old city. There are wonderful, lesser known neighborhoods full of great little cafes and restaurants, charming streets, etc.
We prefer Brussels to Antwerp, but then we live in Brussels and you always know your own town better. There are many interesting things to do and see in Brussels but it can be a little harder for the first (or second) time visitor as the interesting bits are spread out over a wide area. Great restaurants, too (far from the Grand'Place and all its mediocre tourist-trap places).

Tulips Oct 10th, 2003 02:18 AM

If you have never been to Antwerp, do try to go. The centre, around the cathedral, is very nice and compact, easy to walk around in. There is a beautiful Art Nouveau neigbourhood, and also some more recently trendy areas, around the fine arts museum, with great restaurants and bars. And in Belgium everything is all so close together; easy to do with the train. Btilke; I probably feel about Brussels the way you feel about Antwerp; I really don't like Brussels that much; maybe I should try to get to know it better!

baldrick Oct 10th, 2003 04:02 AM

Bruges should be your bases.
Gent is half an hour by train, Antwerp an hour.
IMHO, Antwerp is as much a must as Gent.

MyriamC Oct 10th, 2003 08:07 AM

With 9 days in Belgium I think you should definitely 'do' Antwerp. I live close so I am probably biased too but it's a lovely walkable small city with a lively atmosphere, good eating & drinking & clubbing. You will love the medieval character of the historical centre.

mp413 Oct 10th, 2003 08:44 AM

Great! Thanks for everything. I will definitely make a stop in Antwerp. Now the issue is figuring out if we need a planned itinerary (with hotel reservations etc.) or if we should wing it. I'd love to be able to not make hotel reservations so that if we end up wanting to stay in a city longer than planned we're free to do so... So all you Belgium-dwellers, do you think we could find very central hotel rooms (for decent rates) in January w/out reservations?

Tulips Oct 10th, 2003 12:35 PM

As long as its not actually in the school holiday period (which ends the weekend of 3 January) it will not be a problem. And in Antwerp, one of the best places to stay is (believe it or not) the Hilton, beautiful building right in the center of the old part of town.

BTilke Oct 11th, 2003 04:09 AM

Tulips, I guess I'll have to give Antwerp another go. It just hasn't "clicked" with me yet. Today we're driving out to the Jardins d'Annevoie and Dinant (the supposed charms of Dinant have also left me cold, so I'm giving that one a second chance today). On the way back we're going to let the dog run through the grounds of the Chateau de la Hulpe.
Tomorrow we're meeting another couple for Sunday lunch at Brasseries Georges, which, MP413, is a Brussels restaurant we heartily recommend you try!

MyriamC Oct 11th, 2003 09:21 AM

Good idea to give Antwerp another go. Not only the historical centre but certainly the trendy Zuid and the art nouveau district (Zurenborg) are well worth a visit.
At the end of November I'll give Brussels another try. I don't know the city very well and what I saw during my visits didn't really appeal to me. Now I will visit with a Bruxelloise and I'm sure this will be a more in-depth visit. I'll keep Brasserie Georges in mind! As per the resto site it's on Avenue Churchill, right?
I agree with you re Dinant. Not my cup of tea either. The Jardins d'Annevoie par contre ... sublime!

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