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Belgium...any recommendations?

shoechick's picture

We're starting to put a vacation together for 2010.  Has anyone spent anytime in Belgium?  We're thinking of a couple of days in Bruge before heading to Normandy. Chocolate, Fries and Beer pretty much sells me, I'm not sure what else I need :)

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

PeterDurand's picture

(post #51990, reply #1 of 37)

I envy you. A terrific place to visit, and indeed stay a while. Detail wise, well, its been a few years since I've been there. Let me try and remember and I will get back to you.

Cheers,

Peter

 


Better life through Zoodles and poutine...
BonnieinHolland's picture

(post #51990, reply #2 of 37)

If it's mussel season when you're there, that's something the Belgians do very well, served with either fries or bread and usually available in a variety of different sauces/styles.  But it's always a huge pot of steaming mussels and wonderful.  Brugge is very touristy; however, it's a small town and very easy to just wander into lovely sidestreets where there's nary a tourist and lots of atmosphere.  Many people like near-by Ghent better than Brugge/Bruges -- I am not one of them, however.   I also prefer Antwerp to Brussels, as it is just very very lovely from top to bottom, unlike Brussels.  There are lots of outdoor sitting places around the beautiful squares, perfect for enjoying Belgian beer.  (My favorite Belgian beer is the  Trappist beer, like Westmalle, Leffe, Chimay).  cheers, Bonnie

DianeGaye's picture

(post #51990, reply #3 of 37)

mussels and French fries in any restaurant around the Grande Place, and don't forget to peek at the Mannequin Pisse, both in Brussels.

courgette's picture

(post #51990, reply #4 of 37)

We spent a day there while visiting katelyn In Feb 06. Took the train from Lillle. it was rainy and cold, but still a great day. We did buy unbrellas for everyone and that helped a lot. would go back in a minute.


We had an amazing lunch in a tiny restaurant at the point where two streets converged. Lined tableclothes, Sevice from platters. chicken, frites, salad and dessert for 13E. That lunch is one of my favourite memories. Sorry I dont know the name of the place.


Have a great trip


Mo

ashleyd's picture

(post #51990, reply #5 of 37)

Brugge is a great place to visit, picturesque, lots of canals and Dutch-style building, if you go there do not miss restaurant Den Gouden Harynck (the Golden Herring), it was there that we had our first "surprise" menu which is a tasting menu where you don't know what you are going to have until it arrives on the table. Fabulous. It had all sorts of things that I would never have ordered ("I don't like that") but ate and enjoyed everything, totally changed my attitude to eating out. Lots of good places to get good rabbit (local speciality), and other Belgian favourites. Very similar is Gent, a little quieter and not as full of tourists but still very pretty with good restaurants.


Brussels is good for a visit, loads of good to great restaurants, all within walking distance of the Grande Place. If you stay there at a weekend try the Royal Windsor Hotel, it's a five star but because the bulk of its business is during the week the weekend rates are very attractive, and it's very central.


If you go further afield then Dinant on the River Meuse is one of Belgium's hidden gems, home of Adolfe Saxe (of saxophone fame), we stayed at a mill just outside, great accommodation and fabulous food (that was the first time ever I managed to translate a menu that was entirely in French, although they did speak English if you wanted help).


If you fancy going a little further still in search of history and scenery you can go to the Ardennes and visit the little town of Bouillon, very pretty and home to Godfrey of Bouillon who led one of the Crusades, he's long gone but his castle is still there on a bend in the river Semois.


If you get closer to making plans I can fill in a little more detail. It's just my opinion but I think the standard of food in Belgium is generally better than France.



Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

shoechick's picture

(post #51990, reply #6 of 37)

Wow, you guys are great.  Thanks so much.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

helena1's picture

(post #51990, reply #10 of 37)

Brugge is just charming and beautiful, you'll love it. I second the suggestion for Antwerp, another lovely city (full of great pastreis and chocolates BTW ;o))

Biscuit's picture

(post #51990, reply #7 of 37)

Brugges is a must - MUST!  Really beautiful; one of my top 3 favorite European cities.  Take a boat ride along the canals.  And don't miss the chocolate shops, they are fabulous.  Oh, and have some pommes frites from one of the little carts that line the streets. 

Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.
- Mark Twain

"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."  - George Bernard Shaw

MadMom's picture

(post #51990, reply #8 of 37)

It's funny how the street vendors vary from country to country.  I remember eating quiche while walking down the sidewalk in Martinique.  Last night at cooking class, people were talking about the vendors of pommes frittes and the vendors of moules. 


Good to see you back, BTW.  You definitely need to tell some Max stories.




Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!
Jean's picture

(post #51990, reply #9 of 37)

Hey, welcome back.  You were missed.


What was the best thing before sliced bread?



http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
wonka's picture

(post #51990, reply #12 of 37)

Welcome back. I missed your posts.

plantlust's picture

(post #51990, reply #13 of 37)

Highly, highly recommend Brugge.  Check out a place called the Chocolate Line, also stand and listen to the church bells.


Nothing like hearing Madonna belted out by bells<G>.



Lots and LOTS of snowdrops, sw of Chicago.

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with parsley sauce, goat cheese garlic mashed potatoes, Galena Cellars Niagra grape wine & Pie Boss's apple crumble topped with Ruth & Phil's sour cream/cinnamon ice cream.

evelyn's picture

(post #51990, reply #14 of 37)

OMG - so glad you're back. Can I get a big hug in?

Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next.

In life, learn the rules so that you know how to break them properly.
Biscuit's picture

(post #51990, reply #18 of 37)

Absolutely! [hugs to Evelyn]  Can't promise to be around all that much, but I'll try to at least pop in now and then. 

Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.
- Mark Twain

"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."  - George Bernard Shaw

shoechick's picture

(post #51990, reply #16 of 37)

OMG, OMG, Screw Belgium, I've missed you!! So glad you're back :)

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

Biscuit's picture

(post #51990, reply #19 of 37)

(lol)  Oh, Shoechick, I love you, too!  Really, I do.  Not just saying that. 


BTW - I can't remember WHERE it is, but somewhere in Brugges is this AWESOME chocolate shop that sells chocolate covered cherries.  Oh, I drool just to remember them!  They are not like American CCC at all - oh, no.  These are whole cherries, stem, pit and all, pickled in brandy for months, then dried off slightly and then dipped in bittersweet chocolate.  You have to spit out the pits and stem when you eat them, but WOW - they are FABULOUS!  I could never eat chocolate covered cherries after eating those.  Nothing else was as good.  The only thing that ever came close was CM's TDF chocolate cherry pigs, which I DO lust after (G).


Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.
- Mark Twain

"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."  - George Bernard Shaw

shoechick's picture

(post #51990, reply #21 of 37)

Oh, you're making it impossible for me not to go :)

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

evelyn's picture

(post #51990, reply #22 of 37)

that's how they make them in Greece - and they're the tart morello cherries. Fabulous.

Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next.

In life, learn the rules so that you know how to break them properly.
Jillsifer's picture

(post #51990, reply #25 of 37)

These are whole cherries, stem, pit and all, pickled in brandy for months, then dried off slightly and then dipped in bittersweet chocolate. 


Heh. I have loved chocolate-covered cherries all my life--yes, even the gloppy, lowbrow American-style ones. My first trip to Europe was when I was 14 and my  M&D were NOT present. (It was one of those group/student things.) Several of us got loose in Brussels, bought a bunch of the delectable morsels and ate them ALL in one sitting. Our chaperone/sponsor was the junior-high photography teacher, a sweet but rather naive Mormon who didn't recognize the symptoms of intoxication. Thank GOD for the teacher from Brownsville, Texas who DID. She promptly put us to bed with a stern lecture about the difference between American and European CCCs. We felt like h*ll for a few hours . . .


 


 


It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

-- Washington Irving

Jean's picture

(post #51990, reply #26 of 37)

Funny story!!!


What was the best thing before sliced bread?



http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
Jillsifer's picture

(post #51990, reply #27 of 37)

It's funny NOW. When Madam Brownsville was lecturing us--AND lecturing our poor, sweet teacher--it wasn't so funny.


WHAT is it about those Texas women? Sharon, oh, Shaaaarrrrrroonnnnn?????


 


 


It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

-- Washington Irving

MadMom's picture

(post #51990, reply #29 of 37)

We Texas women are tough, I tell you!



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

Maedl's picture

(post #51990, reply #11 of 37)

Brugges and Ghent should both be on your list. It's years since I've been there, but I'd go back in a flash. In both cities, choose a hotel in the old city so you can enjoy the full flavor. It's been even more years since I've been to Brussels. The Grande Place and Mannequin Piss are worth seeing, but it's very much a Euro capital, with all the EU offices there. Unless you have lots of time, I wouldn't put that at the top of your list.

If you are interested in birds, there is a bird sanctuary on the Belgium-Netherland border. I can't remember the name, but let me know if you're interested and I may be able to dig it up.

Margie
Between the Alps and the Chesapeake Bay:
Where Food and Culture Intersect
www.alpsandbay.blogspot.com
Margie Between the Alps and the Chesapeake Bay: Where Food and Culture Intersect www.alpsandbay.blogspot.com
evelyn's picture

(post #51990, reply #15 of 37)

Bruges = lace

Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next.

In life, learn the rules so that you know how to break them properly.
Adele's picture

(post #51990, reply #17 of 37)

Gee, didn't know there were penguins in Belgium.   LOL


But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

shoechick's picture

(post #51990, reply #20 of 37)

Gee, didn't know there were penguins in Belgium.   LOL


It took me a minute, but now I know exactly what you're talking about :)  We will get there I swear !!  But I want to see Normandy more at this point.  God, you've got a good memory ;)


The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

PeterDurand's picture

(post #51990, reply #23 of 37)

Be sure to sip (drink lots?) of all the wonderful Calvedos that are available there. Unlike the 3 we are allowed in Backward Columbia.

Cheers,

Peter

 


Better life through Zoodles and poutine...
shoechick's picture

(post #51990, reply #24 of 37)

We would definitely do A LOT of calvados tasting :)  We're having dinner with friends tonight who want to come with us :(  I have to figure out a way to diswade them, they fight all the time, she can't go for a long weekend without 3 suitcases and he won't drive in Europe, meaning they would expect Bernie to do all the driving with them bickering in the backseat...NOT HAPPENING !

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

PeterDurand's picture

(post #51990, reply #28 of 37)

Simple. Tell them you have a non refundable deposit on a Smart car rental.

 


Better life through Zoodles and poutine...

shoechick's picture

(post #51990, reply #30 of 37)

I couldn't even fit my shoes in a Smart car, they'd never buy it ;)

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine