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Old 01-11-08, 04:20 PM   #1
chrisvu05
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Anyone been to Belgium?

I have a friend who is going to work in Belgium for the next few months. Naturally I realized I had a free place to stay in Europe so I booked tickets from the 29th of February until the 10th of March. Anyone been to Belgium and have ideas of places to go and things to do?
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Old 01-11-08, 04:24 PM   #2
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I've never been, but I do have a friend from another forum who lives in Belgium. I could hook you up with him via email if you like (getting his permission first of course). PM me if you want to email my buddy Valium (Peter).
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Old 01-11-08, 04:24 PM   #3
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Drink beer. Eat chocolate. Repeat.
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Old 01-11-08, 04:26 PM   #4
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Check with botto, he spends a bit of time there from time to time. I've been there myself, but not since 1976.
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Old 01-11-08, 04:41 PM   #5
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Closest I got was France in 2003
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Old 01-11-08, 04:46 PM   #6
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Stay in brussels, catch a train to any part of the country in less than hour. Things I did that I liked

Ypres - rent a cycle at the train station then cycle around Ypres and the battlefields, visit the cathedral, check out the "rebuilding of" museum, eat the best goats cheese salad I ever had

Antwerp - visit the Vleishuis museum, famous artists house (it was years ago, sorry), stand on the blue stone (FT go home ), and a few other things - basically Antwerp is by far the most fun I had in Belgium

Brussels - the museums and galleries - the weather sucked and it reminded me way too much of London

Bruges - didn't enjoy (tourist trap in a time warp) but it's picture post card/chocolate box cute so I guess If you're going as a couple it may appeal to the fairer sex.
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Old 01-11-08, 04:58 PM   #7
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I simply took my bike and rode around Antwerpen. By chance I found a kermesse race to watch for a while. You'll run in to lots of interesting people without even trying too hard. On the road, I met up with a guy who claimed to have been on the developmental squads for Mapei and Farm Frites. He could have been pulling my leg, but seemed credible enough.

I also stopped at a small restaurant that was owned by a man originally from Egypt, who let me know in no uncertain terms about his feelings on the Iraq war once he discovered I was American! I had ordered something like an egg roll as a snack, and he asked if I wanted sauce on it. Much to my dismay, after I responded affirmatively, I watched him plop a big glob of mayonnaise on it. Be warned - they do the same for their fries, just like they say in Pulp Fiction.

At another town I stopped in a bar that was decorated with lots of art from Nepal, of all places, due to the owner's fascination with the culture. As the only patron in the bar that afternoon, I had a nice talk with the bartender. Just go out and meet people - you won't be disappointed.
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Old 01-11-08, 04:58 PM   #8
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Depends on where you're staying and what you like to do. Do have some mussels and sample the beer. If you like a good smoke I can point you to the nearest good coffeeshop north of the border. Brugge is nice to visit and wander around. A real picture postcard kind of town. Brussels or Antwerp are both quite nice, with different flavours. If you're near Turnhout, try the local speciality worstelbroodjes, they're like no sausage roll on earth.

And get some top-notch cycling in to boot.
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Old 01-11-08, 05:00 PM   #9
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Stay in brussels, catch a train to any part of the country in less than hour. Things I did that I liked

Ypres - rent a cycle at the train station then cycle around Ypres and the battlefields, visit the cathedral, check out the "rebuilding of" museum, eat the best goats cheese salad I ever had

Antwerp - visit the Vleishuis museum, famous artists house (it was years ago, sorry), stand on the blue stone (FT go home ), and a few other things - basically Antwerp is by far the most fun I had in Belgium

Brussels - the museums and galleries - the weather sucked and it reminded me way too much of London

Bruges - didn't enjoy (tourist trap in a time warp) but it's picture post card/chocolate box cute so I guess If you're going as a couple it may appeal to the fairer sex.
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Old 01-11-08, 09:49 PM   #10
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I'll get back to you soon, Chris. I lived there for nearly a year. Where will your friend be living/working? Just want a feel for your homebase area....
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Old 01-11-08, 10:01 PM   #11
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The food in Brussels is really excellent. Very French influenced, fresh, great sauces. Get some Pierre Marcolinni chocolate. The frites from the street vendors around the main square (cant remember the name) are delicious. I am not a fan of the beer but do go to a Trappist Monastery and try it. Oh, yeah there is stuff to see there too besides eat Take the high speed train to Paris, the most beautiful city in the world. If there is a high speed train to Amsterdam now, take it and enjoy the museums and, ahem, entertainment. Avoid the slow train, it was nasty dirty, worse than any NY subway car. You will have a great time, enjoy!
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Old 01-11-08, 10:13 PM   #12
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Best chocolate I ever had was from Belgium, I was just using up what was left off my currency and bought this unknown chocolate to give as gifts.

After I opened the first box nobody got a gift

Off course I have to mention a certain product from Belgium.

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Old 01-11-08, 10:17 PM   #13
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Waffles
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Old 01-11-08, 10:26 PM   #14
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Yes.

I biked there in 2006. Brussels was great, but riding was difficult. I've never encountered cobble like that in Brussels. Oy! It's easy riding---trails almost everywhere. Makes you think again about how civilized the USA is, or not, as the case may be. I liked Ghent and Brugge, too, and Lueven. I loved riding from Brugge out to the coast and back for a day-trip. It was a great day. (September).

Beer is Belgium. Focus on the brands you can't find at home, and if you can, try to find the ones that are local (and hard to find locally). In general, blonds and golden ales and tripels are lighter than dubbels, dubbels are sweetest and heaviest (in my tastings), and tripels have more alcohol than the others.

Chocolate: the most amazing chocolate was the creme. Translated, it was whipped cream inside a hard-shell chocolate. Real whipped creme. Amazing, both the flavor and the texture. You bite into one and it 'gushes' with sweet whipped cream. Amazing. Oh, and I have I mentioned how amazing it was yet?

Don't get me wrong, the chocolates with alcohol in them were great too. You could actually taste the real alcohol, and they didn't scrutinize your age when purchasing them. Civilized, for sure. But, walk into any grocery store, and you will find not a section but two whole rows filled with different chocolate bars. These chocolate bars travel nicely and make great gifts. Don't buy the chocolates in chocolate shops gifts unless you plan to keep them chilled and hand-carry them home. They get squished, etc.

And, the Belgians we talked to were surprised when we told them we were from the USA. After talking to one B&B host, it seemed like it was more the "American's on bikes" factor, and assumed the same for the rest of the responses from Belgians. Whatever the reason, it was nice to feel welcomed. And, it was nice to be respected. There's so much animosity towards bicyclists these days here in this country that it's a relief to ride elsewhere, where people think a bit more ... for lack of better words ... humanly towards bicyclists.
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Old 01-11-08, 10:31 PM   #15
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It's only a couple hundred kilometers across Belgium so you'll be close to everything!
Don't drive, grab a train or bike it if you have the time .
Brugge (Bruges) is a great city . . . historical, lots of great architecture, history, art and handmade lace.
OK . . . also dark chocolate, pastries and beer (try the local Tarwe Bier). Every town in Belgium has at least one brewery . . . you'll never say 'this bud's for you' again!
For sure try the french fries (with or without mayo) on the market square (pomme frites in French or patate fritten in Flemish).
Don't speak Flemish? . . . of course you could practice at home by putting a very hot potato in your mouth and then trying to talk!
Goede reize!
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Old 01-11-08, 10:32 PM   #16
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I have been there , but i dont remember it. the whole brain damage thing
there are pics on my website
http://stupidhurts.org/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=9
and i blogged about the ikea store there
http://stupidhurts.org/ireland/belgium/
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Old 01-11-08, 11:12 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingscotsman View Post
Best chocolate I ever had was from Belgium, I was just using up what was left off my currency and bought this unknown chocolate to give as gifts.

After I opened the first box nobody got a gift

Off course I have to mention a certain product from Belgium.

Ive recently acquired a taste for the Stella. That beer really works!
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Old 01-11-08, 11:30 PM   #18
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Stella is piss compared to some of the beers in Belguim. Those monks make mighty tasty beer
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Old 01-11-08, 11:46 PM   #19
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Stella is piss compared to some of the beers in Belguim. Those monks make mighty tasty beer
+1000 Perhaps not to everyone's taste, certainly to mine.

And.... Belgian Chocolate, is there any need to say anything more?

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Old 01-12-08, 12:00 AM   #20
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As far as places to see and things to do, its been a while. ( not saying how long ) If you have never been to Europe before, just try to absorb the sense of it. Anything anyone suggests, just say yes. Adventure, new stuff, new outlooks, all that jazz.

Am I making sense, or is it the beer talking?

EDIT: Oh! And report back! Please.
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Old 01-12-08, 01:01 AM   #21
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bring back some waffles kthx
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Old 01-12-08, 09:45 AM   #22
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Belgium!

Shh! Don't say that word!
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Old 01-12-08, 11:14 AM   #23
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You must go here: http://www.cantillon.be/

It probably the best beer I've ever tasted. Plus you can take tours of brewery along w/ a tasting. It's really quite neat. One of my favorite things I did there.

Oh. And you might want to see the Royal Museum of Military History...it's free.
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Old 01-12-08, 11:59 AM   #24
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Well I'm flying into Brussels and my friend is either staying in or near Brussels. I figured I have two weekends there as well as a business week. So during the week while my friend is at work I am going to take day trips to the different cities across Belgium. I'm open to everyone's suggestions. I want to get the most out of my 9 or so days there. On the weekend I think we are planning to take two weekend trips. I think Paris is a definite for one weekend and then we were thinking Northern Italy, Amsterdam, Germany, or England for another weekend trip. It is going to be a hell of a week and I'll be exhausted but I won't be going to Europe anytime soon after. It is pretty sweet. I'll have a free place to stay and my flight only cost $600 round trip!!! I'm still expecting to spend about that amount in entertainment.
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Old 01-12-08, 09:11 PM   #25
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Why not just stay in Belgium instead of making it your everywhere in Europe in 10 days trip? Yes, these other places are cool, but so is Belgium. Relax, drink a beer, and give it the justice it deserves.
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