Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Two weeks or so in Belgium and Netherlands
Notices

Two weeks or so in Belgium and Netherlands

Reply

Dec 15th, 2013, 11:26 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,910
Two weeks or so in Belgium and Netherlands

We are experienced independent travelers who usually travel with the idea that is better to see a few places well, than many poorly.

We are in the planning stages of a trip in late April or early May that will be limited to Belgium and Holland and have read many of the threads plus we have guides for each, Rough Guides. They cover small towns well, if they are linited on restaurants and hotels. There are many guides that concentrate on Amsterdam.

Are primary interests are art and museums, food, as much culture as one can ingest in a short period of time, amd walking around cities and some of the countryside. We are not shoppers and will stay at some combination of budget hotels, apartments, or b and b's, depending on price and location. We will not bike as a form of locomotion but could rent a car to see things in the countryside.

Right now, we plan on flying in Brussels and spending day and a half there. From there we want to see Bruges, Ypres, Antwerp and Ghent. In The Netherlands we want to use Amsterdam as a home base but make day trips to Delft, Haarlem, a dyke, and possibly Rotterdam and The Hague.

Among the suggestions we would appreciate is the best use of public transportation (and car, if ncessary to see the countryside) to see what we want to see.

We want to include a few leisurely days, as we ain't kids any more.

Can you suggest serious writers of Belgium and The Netherlands who have been translated in English?

We are planning on eating Indonesian food in Amsterdam and any other ethnic food you would suggest.

We are planning on flying home from Amsterdam all for a maximum of 16 days. Although we have been to Europe many times, we only spent time in Amsterdam at Schiphol.

Thank you in advance.
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 05:54 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 9
A car would be ideal - the whole area is quite small. Trains are also effective, though you'll see more with a car. When you're in the Netherlands you could consider ditching the car for a while and renting bikes, also a great way to get around. Do not drive into Amsterdam!

I would also recommend stopping off in Maastricht, a really delightful city in the south of Holland.
oz_danny is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 06:34 AM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,910
Thanks. I know that in many Euopean cities a car is more of a burden than a convenience. How about taking the train from Brussels to Bruges and then taking a car to Ypres, Ghent and Antwerp, dropping off the car in ANtwerp and take the train to AMsterdam?

Are the huge dykes in Netherlands near the border, so we can include them while we have the car, atill dropping off the car in Antwerp?

There is usually a large see for renting a car in one country and dropping it off in another.

Thanks
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 07:00 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,687
Among the suggestions we would appreciate is the best use of public transportation (and car, if necessary to see the countryside) to see what we want to see.>

No need of a car to visit any of those places as trains run frequently to all of them - having a car in Gent or Antwerp is useless as in many Benelux cities - parking can be had to score and expensive and those cities are very walkable -having a car to get into the countryside is a different question - but you can also rent bikes to do one day bike trips to many nice natural areas -

an nice bike ride would be to at that time of year cycle thru the heart of the flower fields between Haarlem and the Keukenhof - the annual flower show showcases the finest Dutch horticultural companies have to offer (www.keukenhof.nl) - rent a bike in Haarlem - and you'll be pedaling thru miles of undulating petals - totally awesome IMO.

Rent bikes other places but having a car to do the cities you mention makes little sense - the Dutch and Belgian train systems are amongst the finest in the world - Belgium is said to have the densest passenger railway network in Europe. For lots of good stuff on Benelux trains check out these IMO superb sources - www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com and ww.budgeteuropetravel.com - there is also a Benelux Railpass is traveling a lot on trains as you may well be that lets you just hop on any train anytime except Thalys trains which you never have to take on the itineraries you outline.

To see a 'dyke' - well they are all over though you often do not realize them - being covered with grass but if you look they are all over - now you may mean the giant Enclosing Dike keeping the North Sea separate from the Ijlsmeer (sp?) or the immense flood barrier south of Rotterdam and those can be reached by public transportation as well.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 07:09 AM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,910
Thanks. As noted above, we cannot use a bike as a form of locomotion but we also can eschew the car and use the trains.

If we do rent a car we usually try to find a car rental facility on the periphery of a city to avoid negotiating a place we do not know. Maybe just for a day to visit the countryside to see the flora.

My wife is interested in seeing the dykes, even though they are heavily camouflaged to mask their intention. We live in Manhattan and have a new and totally amateur's interest in how to prevent floods since Sandy. And it seems the Dutch are just about the best in the world in thwarting the seas.
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 07:21 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,687
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...etherlands.cfm

You may find this current thread of interest.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 07:31 AM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,910
Thanks
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 08:05 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,687
http://www.unmuseum.org/7wonders/zunderzee.htm

this is the Delta Works - a huge project - a mammoth project helping to protect Holland from the sea and especially future rises in sea levels projected.

You can take a bus there that goes across the barrier or of course drive over it. Not the typical dyke perhaps in your minds with a lad sticking a finger in it to save it but an incredible thing!
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 08:08 AM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,910
Thanks. I am truly disappointed to know that there are not thousands, if not millions, of Dutch boys in ridiculous haircuts holding back the sea.

That info is helpful.
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 08:12 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,687
https://www.google.com/search?q=afsl...=1600&bih=1074

And the Enclosing Dyke in northern Holland you can drive or take a bus over - more the picture of a real dyke etched in our minds' eyes. I have been over that - drove and yes it is quite interesting.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 08:43 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,435
I'd take trains. We had a car when we toured that area and it was more of a hindrance than a convenience, particularly in the cities. And truck traffic out of Rotterdam was just horrid.


When you mention serious writers, what do you have in mind? Travel, literature, classics? Desiderius Erasmus immediately came to my mind.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 12:05 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,253
I have been to Belgium twice this year (July and September) and on both occasions I had a car.

Everywhere we went (Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, Brussels) parking was easy to find, either free (Brussels) or inexpensive(6 Euros in Ghent) and convenient.

A car allows you to explore the area between, on a train you are limited to the destination and arrival points.

Google Jan de Hartog, the only Dutch writer I am familiar with.

You can't do the Ypres Salient route without a car.You can also pop into Canada (Vimy Ridge)

I would spend more time in Brussels. The public transit is efficient but filthy, especially the subway. Brussels has a lot of interesting museums (Instrument, Beer, Brussels, Military, African, Magrite)

In Brussels we stayed in The Royal Windsor, near the Gross Markt, and Hotel Chelton (easy parking, good access to metro and bus.)

Two weeks is a lot of time for those two countries.

Mark
cdnyul is online now  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 12:59 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,910
Thanks you for the info.

The more I read about these countries, the more we added. We counted at least three day trips from Amsterdam and we are inveterate museum goers and it seems like Amsterdam has many that are worthwhile.
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 01:28 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,687
Be sure to get the National Museum Pass for Holland - just 3 main museums in Amsterdam make it pay off and then you can come and go and visit hundreds of museums all over Holland, including the Anne Frank House.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 01:50 PM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,910
Thanks for the hint. Sometimes those passes in other cities are useless.
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 01:55 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,687
http://www.amsterdam.info/museums/museumkaart/

also gives priority line skipping entry to some museums with long lines at ticket windows.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 01:56 PM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,910
Thanks, I also noticed there are two cards specifically for Amsterdam-one is called I Am Amsterdam and the other is combo discount/entrance expiditer.

Are these good also?
IMDonehere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 02:28 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 230
We looked at those cards but we did not feel we would utilize them to their full extent. We chose the Museumkaart which is good at 400 museums throughout Holland for one year. We were able to skip the queue at the Rijksmusum which saved lots of time. We used it in Haarlem which has some great museums and in Zaanse Schanse. Oy can buy it at some of the museums that accept it. It is also good for the Anne Frank House.
lateinlifetraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 03:14 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 11,898
Has no one mentioned the beer yet? I think that is the #1 reason to take the train Then you can sample all the fabulous Belgian beers and not have to designate a driver.
november_moon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2013, 10:47 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 2,684
If you manage to go in may, many of the small ferries in Zeeland are in operation

http://rondje-pontje.nl/

I suggest visiting the Oosterscheldekering and Neeltje Jans.

for any public transport related advice: 9292.nl

A book I found very enlightening on Dutch culture is Simon Schama's "the embarrassment of riches"

and to stay on theme: I liked this novel, by Margriet de Moor: http://olduvaireads.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/the-storm/

It's easy to rent a car for a day and venture out to zeeland, or to that other dutch civil engineering marvel, the flevopolders.

maybe Leiden would be a more central base for what you are planning than Amsterdam. Lovely university town. And half an hour to Amsterdam, 15 minutes to The Hague, 40 minutes to Utrecht, half an hour to Rotterdam and next door are the tulip fields, with the sea (Katwijk, Noordwijk) 15 minutes away.
menachem is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:30 AM.