Author Topic: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands  (Read 3001 times)

FiguringItOut

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Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« on: June 07, 2017, 08:11:20 AM »
I was planning to go to Czech Republic in August for 8 days.  Had my whole trip planned out and was very excited about it.  But in the end I couldn't make it work out due to logistics and lack of good airfare.

So I got  tickets to Belgium/Netherlands.  I am flying into Amsterdam on August 16th and flying out of Brussels on  August 25th.  Tickets are purchased and paid for.  Nothing else if planned - no lodging, no definite idea of where to go or what to do.

I've been in Amsterdam and Brussels before and loved it.  Always wanted to go back and explore more of those countries.  So my initial though was to visit Hague, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges on my way from Amsterdam to Brussels.  It sounded like a very good trip.

But now, I can't seem to get excited about it.  Not planning anything, not researching anything, not even looking up lodging options. 

And considering that I"ll be traveling in a very high season, I really should consider lodging sooner rather than later.  But without trip planned out, I don't know what dates and cities I need lodging for. 

Any idea how to get out of this funk?  I want to be excited about the trip and I want to have an amazing time.  I'll be traveling alone, so I'm not constrained by other's traveling with me. 

MsPeacock

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2017, 08:30:24 AM »
What about getting off the beaten path a bit, rather than seeing Rotterdam etc.  I find dragging myself from city to city to most be NOT how I want to see a place.   Maybe head to the North Sea, check out Schiermonnikoog (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schiermonnikoog) and the seaside and little towns and islands of Freisland , take a bike tour of the countryside? Sign up for cooking classes and learn to make Rijsttafel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rijsttafel), hang out at brown cafes?

FiguringItOut

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2017, 08:33:37 AM »
What about getting off the beaten path a bit, rather than seeing Rotterdam etc.  I find dragging myself from city to city to most be NOT how I want to see a place.   Maybe head to the North Sea, check out Schiermonnikoog (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schiermonnikoog) and the seaside and little towns and islands of Freisland , take a bike tour of the countryside? Sign up for cooking classes and learn to make Rijsttafel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rijsttafel), hang out at brown cafes?

Oooo!  Maybe!  I'll check it out.
I think this possibly is the problem.  I was planning to rent a car and explore the whole country of Czech Republic, travel to national parks, etc.  May be your are right, stay away from major cities.  Thanks for the ideas to explore.

MsPeacock

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2017, 10:59:45 AM »
I have family in the Netherlands. If you decide to head to Friesland I can ask for more tips. I have been to Schiermonnikoog for a day and it is lovely. You could spend maybe 2 days there - there are cute little hotels. Take a ferry around and bike through the northern part of the country. It is extremely flat and bike friendly.

My next trip there will hopefully be for the bike Elfstendentocht - which takes place on Whit Monday every year for bikes. There is a winter version on speed skates in years that the cannels have frozen adequately.

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2017, 12:22:51 PM »
Maybe researching it will get you excited about it. And if travel books don't do the trick, maybe some history books would. I'm currently reading A Distant Mirror, a history of the 14th century, by Barbara Tuchman. There's a fair amount that takes place in that region that I would love to see now. I wouldn't recommend that one specifically as that region is more of a sub-plot than anything, but I'm sure there's some other good books out there.

As you surely know, Belgium is beer heaven. That would get me excited.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2017, 12:38:39 PM »
I am Dutch, but have little experience in being a foreign tourist there. I guess one of the islands, as Schiermonnikoog, could be a nice place to visit. Very open, rough beaches ect. Haven't been there myself yet. Some people like to "wadlopen", which is walking to one of the islands from the mainland, over the seabottom that has fallen dry. Do this only with a guide! It is very dangerous to do without guide. E.g. http://www.wadlopen.com/eng/index.html.
I would concentrate of visiting small towns. I grew up in Schoonhoven, which is a nice town for tourists with silver, clocks and some nice old buildings and a few on a big river. There are several such towns, like Oudewater, Vreeswijk, Volendam. A bigger one I am familiar with is Gouda, with candles, cheese and also many old buildings. From there you could cycle through the "reeuwijkse plassen" area, which is an area full of small lakes with small roads in between. Or through " de vlist", along a river.
I have also heard of tourists that hired a flat boat, "platboot", to sail slowly over quiet rivers.
In the south, in Valkenburg and Maastricht there are caves to visit. In the Lelystad area you can visit a copy of a 17th century VOC ship. http://www.bataviawerf.nl/voc-ship-batavia.html.
If you like to hike, the "Drunense duinen" is a forest that is a bit rougher than usual and contains some sand dunes.
There are also some old castles to visit, like "Slot Loevenstein" or Muiderslot.

In Belgium, Brugge is a nice smal town to visit.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2017, 12:47:09 PM by Linda_Norway »

Nothlit

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2017, 01:57:07 PM »
Bruges is a nice town to explore for 2-3 days. I visited there a couple of years ago, albeit in May, not August. Some of the things I enjoyed most about my time there were free concerts in the main square, and renting a bike to ride out through the countryside along the canals.

I also visited Amsterdam on that same trip. For lodging there, check out Lucky Lake Hostel -- it's a quirky little campground hostel by a lake about 20 minutes from the city (free shuttle from nearby metro stop). It's possible they are booked already for this summer, I don't know, but if not, it's a fun relaxing place to stay outside of the hustle and bustle of the city. If I were to go back to the Netherlands, I would like to visit the Speelklok museum in Utrecht and the outdoor folk museum in Arnhem.

Rosesss

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2017, 09:55:13 AM »
The open air museum http://www.openairmuseum.nl/

Riding a bike through this park https://www.hogeveluwe.nl/en/plan-your-trip (free bikes in the park)
In this park is also a museum with Van Goghs and more.

https://www.bourtange.nl/bezoekersinformatie/de-vesting old fortress, cute small town. Taste old-fashioned candy and such.

Strange farm games http://www.boerengolfdrachten.nl/fotoalbum-boerengolf/

Not your standard city tour: https://www.facebook.com/alternativegroningen/ Sign up via Facebook.

A nice park with activities where you go barefoot http://barefootpark.eu/en/
« Last Edit: June 08, 2017, 10:05:39 AM by Rosesss »

Polaria

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2017, 10:56:08 AM »
I'm from Brussels, lived there all my life except for 5 years.

sednax

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2017, 11:09:02 AM »
I live in Nijmegen, a small city in the east of the Netherlands. There is much you can visit, wadlopen is really cool and unique. But there are many other 'hidden gems' in NL and BE. If you start at the islands and go to the south through the the Veluwe you will find a big variety of nature and culture (Islands, Groningen, Giethoorn (although very touristic), ride the afsluitdijk, Valkenburg, Nijmegen (of course) and end in Maastricht or Middleburg). Then head to Belgium. The "mountains" are beautiful, as well as the regular cities.

If you like beer, try Dinant: it's a nice village near many of the Belgian beers like La Trappe come from. Also it is the city where the saxophone was invented.

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Polaria

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2017, 12:11:53 PM »
Then head to Belgium. The "mountains" are beautiful, as well as the regular cities.

Mountains, mountains... that's quickly said ;) I'll concede however that the Netherlands are flatter than Belgium.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Plat_Pays

UncleX

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2017, 02:16:38 PM »
If you like beer, try Dinant: it's a nice village near many of the Belgian beers like La Trappe come from. Also it is the city where the saxophone was invented.
La Trappe is actually a Dutch beer:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Koningshoeven_Brewery

sednax

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2017, 02:40:31 PM »
Ah I meant Leffe (wow..), but I thought La Trappe was Belgian. Thanks!

9patch

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Re: Trip to Belgium and Netherlands
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2017, 04:42:31 PM »
What do you like to do on vacations? You could pick to spend a few days at each place, without really planning what you'll do at each place. Bruges is really nice. And if you don't want to spend time in a bigger city, you could go to smaller towns, like Groningen, or spend some time on the islands, like Ameland. Or you could just look for what hostels are available during your trip, and just plan a general circular loop, instead of really researching each town. Just figure out what you're going to do when you actually get there. Enjoy your trip!