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Limited stay in Belgium/Luxembourg/NW Germany area

Limited stay in Belgium/Luxembourg/NW Germany area

Old Sep 23rd, 2013, 12:01 PM
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Limited stay in Belgium/Luxembourg/NW Germany area

Can you please suggest must-see destinations in the Belgium/Luxembourg/NW Germany area? We must be in Brussels on a Thursday and Friday in October, but are looking for destinations for the prior Sunday to Thursday. Thinking about possible stops in places such as Brugge, Luxembourg, Moselle River, Cochem, Berg Eltz Castle, etc., but having never been to Europe, we really have no idea what to do or not do, the best way to get from place to place, the best way to make the most of this rare opportunity. Interested in castles, history, landscapes, the local flavor - as opposed to big cities, shopping, etc. Any suggestions would be greatly apprecaited!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2013, 12:25 PM
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Well Bruges is just a short day trip from Brussels by train - most folks find a day in Brussels more than enough (though of course with world-famous museums, etc you could spend days here) and then take the train to Luxembourg and onto Cochem, the fairy-tale city of your dreams with a dreamy castle popping right out of vineyards surrounding the castle - lots of cozy guesthouses to stay in - a thriving resort town known also as a wine town - tour local wineries and sample the vaunted Mosel white wines!

A short day trip from Cochem is Burg Eltz, one of Germany's most famous castles - it formerly graced the back of the 500 Deutsche Mark banknote before the advent of the Euro - take a train from Cochem to Moselkern and either do a lovely 2-mile walk up to it thru a forest or a minibus or taxi.

On the way back to Brussels stop off in Luxembourg, the classic 2-hour stop IMO - put bags in a station locker and go look around this gorgeous city - one of the most physically gorgeous in Europe as it is bisected by a wide deep gorge - check out the Casements - ancient tunnels hewn out in the gorge walls for military reasons.

Trier is also on the Luxembourg to Cochem train line and is one of the oldest cities in Europe, having been once the capital of the Eastern half of the Western Holy Roman Empire - it has several fine Roman ruins like a Roman temple now converted to Christian basilica and the Porta Negra - an intact behemoth city gate that was the entrance to the western part of the Holy Roman Empire - there is also the Karl Marx house where the philosopher grew up and is now a study center and Marx museum. Trier could be a few-hour stop as well.

But Cochem is at the most beautiful parts of the Mosel, which runs in a deep gorge here lovingly carpeted with vineyards on south facing slopes - Cochem is the picture postcard town of your dreams!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2013, 05:21 PM
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How are you travelling? By train or car? If by train, Aachen and Cologne have good connections to Brussels, but if by car, that will open up the whole Trier - Mosel - Luxembourg area much better for you IMO.

Lavandula
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Old Sep 24th, 2013, 03:54 AM
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"Thinking about possible stops in places such as Brugge, Luxembourg, Moselle River, Cochem, Berg Eltz Castle, etc....the best way to get from place to place..."

The train is a very relaxing way to get around - no one has to drive, and both of you can enjoy the scenery. Rail service in this area is very good; Lavandula's comments notwithstanding, taking the train does not in any way exclude you from the Mosel River area (though it may take slightly longer than by car.) Trains run hourly or better through the Mosel Valley - in the morning hours, there are 10+ morning-trains in each direction between Trier and Koblenz every day, so getting to Burg Eltz (Moselkern station) or between Trier and Cochem is a snap.

"Interested in castles, history, landscapes, the local flavor..."

I enthusiastically agree with PalenQ's suggestion - use Cochem as a base for the Mosel. Reichsburg Castle is right in town. Burg Eltz is a few minutes away. A daytrip into Luxembourg from there is possible as well (less than 2 hours each way by train.)

Trains from Brussels to Cochem require about 4.5 hours if you route yourselves via Cologne and Koblenz; normal fare is 70€, lower savings fares may be available for your dates (I found 44€ fares available for the morning of 10/20, for example.) Use the German railways site to find travel times and prices and to purchase tickets:

http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

Once you're in Cochem, daypasses for outings will cost you 26€/day for almost unlimited train travel along the Mosel and to the Rhine, where there are even more castles, and some nice villages as well (mostly between Koblenz and Bingen on the west bank; Boppard, St. Goar, Oberwesel, and Bacharach are all easy to reach by train from Cochem with a change of train in Koblenz.)

Rheinland-Pfalz ticket Daypass: http://www.vrminfo.de/en/tickets-and...-pfalz-ticket/

To see Burg Eltz, take the eastbound train from Cochem; in 15 minutes, get off in Moselkern and walk from there:

http://www.bensbauernhof.com/burgeltzfrommoselkern.html
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Old Sep 24th, 2013, 08:24 AM
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https://www.google.com/search?q=imag...bih=1075&dpr=1

Cochem is the fairy-tale town of your dreams - even if its castle is Ersatz - rebuilt from scratch in the 1800s to look like an authentic medieval castle - it nevertheless is a sight to behold and what helps make Cochem so so special.
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Old Oct 10th, 2013, 10:42 AM
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Are there English speaking employees at the train stations that can assist you in selecting your train/route or do you need to know all the details when you step up to purchase the tran ticket?
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Old Oct 10th, 2013, 11:19 AM
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Ticket personnel can usually manage enough English to sell you a ticket. Some speak better English than my US neighbors.

But in Germany, most people just use the ticket machines at the station with cash or credit cards (not all machines take cards, but most do.) The machines have an English interface option.

The R-P ticket mentioned above is best bought at ticket machines. For long-distance tickets between Belgium and Germany, you should buy (online) advance-sale savings-fare tickets from the DB website ASAP, if you can pin down a travel time and stick with it, that is (penalties for changes.) That will save you some money over on-the-spot fares you'll find at the station.
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Old Oct 10th, 2013, 12:28 PM
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I think you save 2 euros by using machines rather than going to a ticket window and lines at ticket counters IME are getting very long as I suspect the railways want folks to use the automatic machines instead!
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Old Oct 10th, 2013, 12:42 PM
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At the train station you need to know where you are going and what train is going there. Clerks usually understand enough English to sell a ticket but you can;t expect them to do route planning for you.

As for train or car - depends comletely on where you decide to go.

A couple of years ago we did a very nice road trip landing in Brussels and circling through eastern Belgium, Luxembourg and part of Germany (Aachen, Trier) to end up in Frankfurt. But we had more time than you do and let serendipity guide us except for hotel reservations.
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Old Oct 12th, 2013, 07:47 AM
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I always advise writing down exactly what you want before getting to the train-station ticket window - 1st or 2nd class - number of passengers - ages if any young or old and destination - get the exact train number off www.bahn.de/en or other schedule site - then it is full proof even if attendant speaks little or not English - unlikely in Belgium or Netherlands however.
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Old Oct 12th, 2013, 08:36 AM
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The train system along the Mosel really is very easy as the guys above say. The Mosel gets a few fogs at the time of year but normally afternoons can be fine. All this helps the botrytis in the vinyards. As well as road and rail down the Mosel you can sometimes use boats (dependant on season), bicycles (hirable and portable on the trains) and high walking along the lower edges of cliffs which can make great journeys back from a nearby village.
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