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Timelimited stop in Brussels, Bruges - advice?

Timelimited stop in Brussels, Bruges - advice?

Old Jun 22nd, 2015, 11:34 AM
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Timelimited stop in Brussels, Bruges - advice?

Hi, and I know your first bit of advice would be to devote much more time to Belgium, but we're stuck between obligations in Amsterdam and Paris, so . . .

If we can leave Amsterdam at suppertime/dinnertime on Wed., we can get to Brussels that evening. We can only stay a day and a half, i.e. all day Thurs. to lunchtime Friday in Belgium - which is a crime, I know. But that's 2 nights and a day and a half so:

1. Stay in Brussels and try to fit Bruges in (an hour away, right), or stay in Bruges and take a quick look at Brussels on the way to and from the trainstations? Prefer not one night each, but I suppose that's another option.

2. For that matter, the trains we're using apparently arrive and depart at the Midi station, not the Centraal. Where are they each relative to each other? Hotel nearby that Midi station?

3. Whether Bruges or Brussels, modest (120-150 Euro), hotel recommendation?

4. Or just punt and add the time in Paris, where we'll also have a tight 2 or 3 days?

I understand it's a matter of taste and travel style, but grateful for all votes in any direction.

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Old Jun 22nd, 2015, 11:41 AM
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Stay in Bruges if you can. It sounds like you have enough time to do it. Yes, see Brussels for a few hours between trains if you have time - I think there are still lockers at the stations.

Midi and Centraal are connected by many trains passing through Brussels. If you are on a train that starts or ends at Midi and have a valid ticket, I believe your ticket covers transferring to another train to get to/from Centraal. If you do wind up staying in Brussels, I'd get a hotel closer to Centraal for sure, and just take the short train ride to transfer between them. Centraal is closer to the things you'd want to see in Brussels e.g. the Grand Place.

You can work out for yourself which direction gets you to/from Centraal to/from Midi - it's been a few years since I was last there and I forget, but by train they are really close together.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2015, 01:04 PM
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Another suggestion.
Stay in Ghent and do a day trip to Bruges the next day.
On the trip to Bruges, you could stay late to have dinner and enjoy Bruges after dark.
Ghent has a vibrant cafe night life and is easy to navigate. Great place for the evening coming from Amsterdam.
It also has some direct trains to Paris, so you would not have to do the commuter trek into Brussels. Check out the times.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 02:06 PM
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Unfortunately there are NO direct trains from Ghent to Paris. You will always have to do the commuter trek into Brussels.

The most practical would be to stay in Brussels and make a daytrip to Bruges on Thursday. Trains run late (latest connection Bruges-Brussels Central is at 11:22 pm).
This will leave you half a day for Brussels on Friday. Brussels (Midi)-Paris on the highspeed Thalys train is only one and a half hour. Brussels-Central to Midi is 4 mins. and trains run every few minutes.
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Old Jun 24th, 2015, 11:43 AM
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Thank all 3 of you! The information is useful (esp. train/station info) and the Ghent suggestion is interesting. I'll let you know how this shakes out.

Anyone else? Suggestions for your favorite modest-moderate hotel in Bruges, Brussels (near station), or Ghent?
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Old Jun 24th, 2015, 12:20 PM
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Although I would recommend staying in Bruges and taking a day trip to Brussels, if you do stay in Brussels look at X to Brussels b&b (pronounced Cross to Brussels). I recommend taking a taxi from the train station as the area right around Midi station is a mixed bag.
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Old Jun 24th, 2015, 01:26 PM
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We stayed at the Hotel De Colonies this May.
It cost me 216 Euros for two nights for a triple room.
Near Rogier (sp.?) metro, a few stops from Midi on a direct line.

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Old Jun 24th, 2015, 01:50 PM
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Trains shuttle constantly between Brussels Midi (Zuid or South in English) station and Centraal station - despite its name not a main station but one a short walk from the Grand' Place and Mannequin Pis, the two must sights in the center.

But I'd suggest doing Amsterdam to Bruges - a lovely city especially at night that the vast majority will enjoy much more than Brussels (and not saying Brussels is a dump just that it underwhelms many) and Bruges is small enough so a day and night there may be enough and it has two great rail links to Paris - one via Brussels and Thalys trains (check the ABS fare if doing Thalys) and one via Lille Flandres in France - both take about the same time 2.5 hours or so.

Thalys trains can be really cheap if booked far in advance and would be the cheaper route but if not wanting to lock yourself in weeks in advance the regular walk-up fare Bruges-Lille-Paris is a fairly flat fare much cheaper than full-fare on Thalys.

www.thalys.com is the official site - for Lille to Paris www.voyages-sncf.com or www.capitainetrain.com - same trains two different booking engines - should have same prices many say the latter is easier to use.

Amsterdam to Bruges could be Thalys ABS fare from Antwerp to Bruges or all by IC trains with a flat fare structure. Again Thalys could be cheaper if booked way in advance and about an hour quicker too.

For lots on European trains in general check www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; www.rickstegves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. Walk-up tickets are always available IME and the IC trains have no advance booking requirements or even take reservations.
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Old Jun 26th, 2015, 03:19 PM
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Thanks, one more time!! (PalenQ - assume you meant ricksteves.com, right?)

Am noticing as I read various things that there are a couple of art museum-y things I wouldn't like to miss in Brussels, but also thinking Bruges looks fun to be based in/at/from. Stay tuned.
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