I have gained significant value in reading the thoughts of; psudad profchiara pluto77 fschumpert newhiltonmembr razorbackfan zukracer and jerrycoin and several others . brightlybob please jump in also, you've probably worked the halls of NATO or the Hague and any others please join in as well. If it motivates you to help, feel free to mock my ignorance/laziness.
Striking while the iron is hot (coming off the terrific answers to the Paris airport transfer question), I would greatly appreciate it if you would please provide your collective expertise and help me solve my ground transportation issues for my soon to be scheduled trip to Brussels, Ghent, and Amsterdam with day trips to Bruges and Paris. I don't book until next month, but my getting around capabilities may alter the lodging strategy. I'm pretty much going to use EuroRail for getting between cities (but advise otherwise if necessary);
Brussels to Amsterdam - one way about two hours $98-$101
Amsterdam to Ghent (via Antwerp) -one way about two hours $98-$113
Ghent to Bruges - roundtrip - 23 minutes $14 each way
Ghent to Paris - roundtrip (via Brussels) about two hours $95 - $129 each way ( $95 cheaper than most Brussels to Paris!)
Ghent to Brussels - one way 30 minutes $20
I'm open to any and all suggestions/revisions. I'm going with tickets vs. Railpass, because I can't figure out the benefit of a Railpass and it costs more. I noticed train prices vary based on when in the year you travel, somewhat similar to airlines. Any thoughts on how far in advance (assuming pre-paid is the best way to secure seats - please advise otherwise) tickets should be purchased for optimal price?
Lodging Strategy based on superb Insider input;
1 & 2 Brussels Marriott
3 Amsterdam Renaissance
4-10 Ghent Marriott
11 Brussels Courtyard
Local Transportation: Here's where I really need your help, between stumbling into sites in different languages, digging up the proximities of hotels, subways, airports, and different city train stations, my brain is fried and I'm to the point of just going down and robbing the local 7-11 and taking limos, jerrystyle. So please, help a brotha' out. Any research you can save me from doing is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
1) Best way to get from Brussels airport to Marriott (taxi is about $70)
2) How do you get from the Marriott to the Brussels Midi Train Station?
3) How do you get from the Amsterdam Central Station to Renaissance? .3 miles, we can walk, unless it's like Heathrow - Is it?
4) Ghent St. Peter's Station to Marriott has already been generously answered by psudad (hopefully the tram is as easy to find as he says it is)
The trams are very easy in Ghent. Following our arrival at St. Peter's station, we went outside the station and picked up the tram. It takes you within a few blocks of the Marriott. You get out at Korenmarkt (near the McDonalds), walk over the St. Michael's Bridge, take the stairs down on the right side, and walk along the canal to the Marriott. We landed in Brussels and took an express train to St. Peters station in Ghent. Took the tram in Ghent to and from St. Peters station and walked everywhere else.
5) Does anyone know how to get from Brussels midi train station to the Brussels Courtyard? The CY, besides being closer (3 miles) to the airport than the Marriott, with a shuttle (non-free), is only a Cat. 4 and has excellent reviews. The Brussels midi station is further west of the Marriott which is, as mentioned a $70 cab fare to airport, so I'm thinking subway. Has anyone dealt with the Jules Bordet train station? It's walking distance to the CY.
Thank you for your insights.
I suggest either a Europass (several countries) or one that includes France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. I forget what it is exactly because I haven't spent much time there lately, but it would definitely be better than individual tickets. You buy at least 4 trips for a certain period and can add days and countries.
Here's the link without France, though Europass could include it:
Thank you for kicking off the idea fest. I'm seeing a Benelux-France 10 day 2 person second class saver for 732 euros or around $1100 (which is about a wash with the tickets). They also warn that reservations for France travel is limited (and of course, I need to make reservations for each trip - which is fine). Since I'm hanging out in Ghent stretching out my stay, the pass works best if I go to another city like Luxembourg. This is good hip pocket data, in case I get energetic, so I'm keeping it on the radar. I appreciate your input (i've already drawn a lot from your activity suggestions).
I have been to Brussels a few times. When I booked the Renaissance there, they actually put me into the Executive Apartments, which was pretty nice if you can get it . We took a train into the city, was pretty easy. There is a train station a block or 3 from the Ren (Gare Bruxelles-Luxembourg) and I think it was pretty cheap, maybe 10-15E. You can also take this back over to the Nord station pretty easily as I recall. If you have your heart set on the Marriott, I'm not sure how it differs, its not terribly farther away but I did really enjoy the Ren there. It was a pretty easy walk into the city center, palace area and to the little dude havin a wiz
In Amsterdam, pack light enough so you can easily carry/pull your bags and walk. Its a long few blocks but I'm not even sure if a cab would take you unless you had a pile of stuff to carry, its that close. I'd say its more like .75-1mi depending on track you arrive on but pretty easy. Also I recall walking up/down stairs there to get to the train platform. I'll admit I didn't spend a lot of time looking for a lift but it also wasn't a clear option on the platforms I was on. Just make sure you validate your ticket for the trains.
Hope you are doing well!
Agree totally with you on the Ren. Amsterdam!
Erc, just walk across the street from the train station and you are in a very good area! You will enjoy your walks and canal rides in Amsterdam! When you get close to your trip, let us give you details on wonderful places in Amsterdam.
Wish I could help with other places, but have not been to Brugge nor Ghent. As far as the train, make sure you get seats, and not standing room. The trains can be really full, and you will want to sit down.
Thanks guys. That's good to know about the Amsterdam station, often the numbers in the Marriott site understate the distance, so I'm glad I verified it's walkable, we'll have light enough luggage to make it on foot (zuk was the one who correctly warned me to avoid the walk from Heathrow).
I'll be sure to circle back when it comes time to plan worthwhile activities (especially advice on getting the most out of a day in Paris - like that hop on/hop off bus). And I agree about sitting on the train - that's part of the value, enjoying the scenery, rather than jostling about.
zuk - when you say validate the train tickets, is that a step beyond a reservation? Thanks
Zuk was "Right on about Heathrow", for sure, but again, you will have no problem in Amsterdam!
This was a nice and inexpensive boat to take a "Canal tour", it was a lot of fun!
One of the entrances to The Renaissance. It is in a wonderful location.
This was the best meal, for the price in Amsterdam! Just a short walk from The Ren., The Madre Maria. A three course meal, grilled over wood (The way IAHFLYR, likes it), for 12 Euros. Now it may be more now, but they actually had a violin player performing for the guests. It was wonderful for a relaxing meal.
The Madre Maria kitchen is small, but the wood grill, puts out some fine beef!
Don't forget to visit Anne Frank's Home, it is most interesting!
The lines may be long, but they move very quickly!
Thanks, good stuff, love those short walk great restaurants - Madre Maria is now on my list. After more and more reading, I'm actually considering switching from two nights Brussels and one Amsterdam to the other way around (and picking up Brussels on the backend either from the CY or the Marriott).
Justin Bieber told me about the Anne Frank house, so now with two pop culture heroes recommending it - it's a go!
I don't want to make Madre Mario a "Haute Cuisine" place, but it was very good food at a reasonable price. It was just a short walk from The Renaissance.
BTW, if you walk to Anne Frank's from the Renaissance, (It's a pretty walk), look for places like this. The food and bakery products, even soft drinks are enjoyable. You can sit on a park bench and watch the boats go by in the canals!
This was an outstanding place for a snack! Between the hotel and Anne Frank's!
Thanks for the update, that's useful info because I like to balance both financially and gastronimically the meals. Walking is what we do, so your input will prove valuable (and I will follow up about the canal boat rides).
Now, with the Amsterdam question answered, I'm down to three ground transportation questions everyone (and the zukracer point about train ticket validation)
1) Best way to get from Brussels airport to Marriott (taxi is about $70)? (I don't see any Metro stop at the airport)
2) How do you get from the Marriott to the Brussels Midi Train Station? (psudad did you ever do this?)
and perhaps the toughest
3) Does anyone know how to get from Brussels midi train station to the Brussels Courtyard? The CY, besides being closer (3 miles) to the airport than the Marriott, with a shuttle (non-free), is only a Cat. 4 and has excellent reviews. The Brussels midi station is further west of the Marriott which is, as mentioned a $70 cab fare to airport, so I'm thinking subway. Has anyone dealt with the Jules Bordet train station? It's walking distance to the CY.
thanks folks, it takes a village to get erc out of the country !
I thought that psudad gave you the good stuff on Belgium train travel in another post (which naturally I can't seem to find. ) I haven't been to Brussels or Ghent (dying to get to Ghent, after reading so many wonderful trip reports), only Bruges, but I would be happy to look into your questions 1-3 and 5 (which will also be useful for myself someday.)
Perhaps you might also find these posts useful:
Also, I don't think you need the eurail pass. We've done it once (3 country something or other), and since then have done better with just purchasing tickets.
I purchase my tickets in advance on www.voyages-sncf.com, www.trenitalia.com and bahn.com - your online travel booking tool for rail journeys, holidays, city trips and car rental, depending on the country of travel. I must have a user id and password, because I receive ongoing emails regarding sales from both sncf and trenitalia. The cool thing about online advance purchase is 1) the price is cheaper, and 2) you present the eticket (printed on the internet just like an Amtrak ticket) to the conductor on board the train. No waiting in line at the train station or anxiety about sold out trains.
Also, not only do the ticket prices vary by season, they can vary by day of week as well. You'll find this out as you mess around on the ticketing website.
One more thing, trains do go on strike from time to time in Europe. It's good to have a back up plan, an alternate itinerary for how to spend your time or an alternate transportation plan (rental car) or bus tour (for your day trips). Yes for sure bus tours in your case (Bruges and Paris).
I'll work on this and regroup with you later. Maybe while I am "training," you or someone else could tell me where the best place to sit at Fenway Park is - for an evening game - budget is < $150/seat. Thanks.
Thanks pluto - great stuff. Oh yeah, I've studied those links, terrific info, but I've pushed the activities to the back of my brain for now, but will be following many of the suggestions - that's exactly what I want to do; walk, sightsee, chocolate, waffle, beer, meals etc. I'll even be nice to people if they're interested, but if not, that's cool also, I just want to see stuff.
Good stuff on train tickets thanks. Question three regarding Amsterdam Central Station seems to be, land there and walk. I'll communicate with the folks at the hotel when joshm passes on the names and see if they agree. Help on #1,2, and 5 would be greatly appreciated (at your convenience), thanks. Yes psudad got me from Ghent to Bruges and back and from Ghent train station to Marriott, so I'm ok there. It's the very first leg, from the Brussels airport to the Brussels Marriott (after a long flight) that I would like to go as smoothly and cost effectively as possible, and if after all the research, it turns out that a $70 taxi is the best deal, then so be it. I'll know it was the best option, I just don't want to spend $70 only to find out I could have easily maneuvered at $20 ground transportation plan.
Red Sox tickets might surprise you with a variety of obtainable options. Here's a site a buddy had good luck with Oakland Athletics at BostRed Sox Tickets at Fenway Park May 03 2014 - Available at TicketsNow and of course there's StubHub etc also. But just like hotels, know your market and be ready to pull the trigger on good ones. Avoiding the Yankees goes a long way toward making your values go up (if you just want to see Fenway and a game, try some non-division mediocre teams like the Twins, Indians, or the Astros in August, they should be mathematically eliminated by then ). Good luck and thanks for chipping in on Europe.
You came up with a bit of a stumper here Kemosabe (oh wait, that's me, nevermind. Or maybe it is you. Depends on the translation.) ANYWAY, Here's the best that I can come up with so far, for BRU (BRU, right?) to the Brussels, Marriott. Are you ready? How much luggage will you have? Your best bet so far as I can tell is to catch the bus from the airport, then an easy metro transfer, and then a short walk to the hotel. Before you say, "we don't do busses," see what you think about this: