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Old 03-16-16, 06:38 PM   #1
jefnvk
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Advice on Belgium

Pretty much the same as my last question: I was wondering if there was anyone who lived in, or frequented, Belgium that would care to share some advice on trip planning. Sorry, I would have just added to the last one, but I couldn't find a way to change the title to reflect new questioning.

No, I haven't willfully changed my mind, but in waiting for the girlfriend's vacation to be approved over a grueling five weeks, finding out it wasn't, and being forced to go a week earlier than planned, the roundtrip costs to Amsterdam ballooned out of a desirable range. The compromise is now a one way ride: fly into Brussels, ride to Amsterdam, fly home. Tickets have been purchased, places on the plane for the bicycles confirmed, and new planning has begun! I've gotten a bulk of my Netherlands plans in the work, but I'm curious about the northern bit of Belgium between Brussels in the border.

Is the best way to go just to jump on the LF2 City Route and take it to the border? Is there anything of value that we would want to detour to see? The only thing I am really keen on (which was actually in my planning for the Netherlands itself) was a stop through Westmalle to see the abbey (even if from outside its walls) and sample its goods at the cafe across the road. We've got up to six days we'd like to allocate to riding, with a couple extra days built in for delays/sightseeing.

Also, how is Brussels in specific, and northern Belgium in general, for cycling infrastructure? I'm not expecting Netherlands quality, but I hope I didn't bite off too much.
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Old 03-18-16, 07:09 AM   #2
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If you don't mind may I ask what you airline ticket cost? We are flying from Cleveland to Amsterdam mid-May on Delta.
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Old 03-19-16, 11:44 AM   #3
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If you don't mind may I ask what you airline ticket cost? We are flying from Cleveland to Amsterdam mid-May on Delta.
I don't mind at all, I also love having reference fares for my research an knowledge! We are flying Toronto to Brussels on the 20th of May, and Amsterdam back to Toronto on the 30th. I booked through Air Canada, it was $711, and it codeshares with Brussles Airlines on the outbound leg. Brussels Airlines let the bike travel free in place of your checked bag, so long as it keeps under the 23kg (50ish pounds) weight limit. Air Canada charges a $50 Canadian ($35ish) handling fee to take the bike in place of your checked bag, but bumps the limit up to 32kg (70ish pounds).

Delta was actually cheaper when I bought the tickets last week, around $670, but they charge $150 each way to take bikes taking the total cost considerably higher. For whatever reason, Detroit is considerably higher internationally, I didn't find anything under $1300 there, but I live less than four hours from Toronto, parking is far cheaper, and security, immigrations, and customs are far more pleasant in Canadian airports than the US airports.
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Old 03-19-16, 03:56 PM   #4
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We paid $999 from Cleveland via Atlanta return via Detroit. Leaving 15 May and returning 5 July. Those are nice prices! Wish we lived closer to Toronto!
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Old 03-19-16, 06:34 PM   #5
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So many of my vacations are just based on what I can get the best airfare to. In this case, everything just happened to align perfectly!

Are you doing a bike trip?
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Old 03-21-16, 05:52 AM   #6
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Yep, we are cycling through The Netherlands, Germany,& Denmark
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Old 03-21-16, 10:52 AM   #7
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Good luck! Wish I had more than 10 days to go a bit further!
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Old 04-25-16, 11:29 AM   #8
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You can always ride on regular roads where cars and other vehicles ride aswel... In cities, there's no other possibility.
Although not always recommended.
However, the government is planning to build bike highways... for cyclists only.
Some of them are already finnished, I think between Antwerp and Mechelen.
For easy rides, it's best to follow rivers, where we mostly have a cycling path next to the river bank. It's always flat next a river... but sometimes a detour when you need to get somewhere else.

Do you take a GPS with you? Otherwise you can download some routes on sites like this:
Fiets-O-Strade Antwerpen-Brussel - Fietsroute | RouteYou


I'm afraid I haven't ride on these routes before, cannot help you for better routes over there as I live at the other side of Brussels.
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Old 04-25-16, 11:41 AM   #9
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Brussels to Vilvoorde, to Mechelen to Lier to Westmalle, al via canals/rivers.

From there up to the Netherlands, it's maybe nice to ride via Kapellen to Kalmthout through the woods (heath).

This route google maps:
https://www.google.be/maps/dir/Bruss...2d51.38298!3e1
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Old 04-25-16, 11:44 AM   #10
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You can always ride on regular roads where cars and other vehicles ride aswel... In cities, there's no other possibility.
Although not always recommended.
However, the government is planning to build bike highways... for cyclists only.
Some of them are already finnished, I think between Antwerp and Mechelen.
For easy rides, it's best to follow rivers, where we mostly have a cycling path next to the river bank. It's always flat next a river... but sometimes a detour when you need to get somewhere else.

Do you take a GPS with you? Otherwise you can download some routes on sites like this:
Fiets-O-Strade Antwerpen-Brussel - Fietsroute | RouteYou


I'm afraid I haven't ride on these routes before, cannot help you for better routes over there as I live at the other side of Brussels.
Thanks for the info!

Do you have any information on biking from the Zaventem airport specifically? We are actually heading from Brussels to Leuven, and then north to Malle before heading into the Netherlands. I was curious if it would be a better idea to find a hotel around the greenway that circles Belgium, park the bikes, and just take public transit into Brussels for a day, or if we should just bike into the city itself and stay downtown?

Any advice is much appreciated!
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Old 04-25-16, 12:27 PM   #11
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Yes, from the airport you can start riding already, however, on normal road between regular traffic.

Problem is that the government didn't make that online information in English... only in Dutch. :s

- a PDF:
http://www.vlaamsbrabant.be/binaries...tcm5-99889.pdf

- a detailed view via google maps:
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer...C0.439453&z=11
(the green lines are roads for bikes only, already finnished, the purple ones will be finished in the future)

Well I'm personally not a fan of riding a bike in Brussels..
However, I know people who do, and when you're used to, it shouldn't be a problem.
You will need to ride safe and watch out for traffic.


No time to respond further...have to catch my train.
Maybe tomorrow.
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Old 04-25-16, 12:29 PM   #12
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No worries on a reply, you've answered my question! Thanks for your insight, those links were very valuable!

Last edited by jefnvk; 04-25-16 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 04-26-16, 01:31 AM   #13
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If you take your bike in the city, make sure to lock them very well if you get off somewhere. Or maybe you can leave it in the hotel.
Public transport in Brussels is handy too.
Metro: Network maps
Depends what you want to see, it's not that big, you can do most things by foot in the center, you can get very tired walking a whole day. However some tourist spots are outside the center, like the Atomium, ...

However, you can rent public bikes aswel in Brussels itself, for a day.
I don't know if you need to do complex registering first or not, I think the terms/conditions changed over the years. Seems you can just pay a ticket with a bank card:
Day or week ticket / Day or week ticket / Rates / Brussels - Villo!


If you ride via Leuven, you will see the Inbev brewery, where they brew the Stella beer.
You can do a pub in the center of Leuven and sit outside if the weather is fine.
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Old 06-23-16, 09:15 AM   #14
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We ended up walking Brussels. The fiancee took one look at the hills and said NO

Leuven was much more enjoyable to us. Much more relaxed, laid back atmosphere, it may have been my favorite city of the trip!
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Old 09-04-16, 07:04 AM   #15
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We ended up walking Brussels. The fiancee took one look at the hills and said NO
Hills? Brussels?


The only one I know is Hill's Music, a guitar shop: Hills Music


No seriously, at some places there are hills indeed, but not always that long or steep.
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Old 09-06-16, 10:44 AM   #16
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No seriously, at some places there are hills indeed, but not always that long or steep.
Hills are very subjective. For two people who live in the middle of flat farm land, to whom the largest hills are bridges, and whose biggest grades almost never exceed 2%, Brussels has some hills
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Old 10-22-16, 04:50 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
Yep, we are cycling through The Netherlands, Germany,& Denmark

If you find the time take a slight detour to see a bit of Luxembourg you won't regret it!
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