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Conflicted about going to Brussels

Can anyone help?
In light of the horrific events from yesterday in Brussels, I have been doing a lot of thinking.
I and my three children (10, 8,8) were scheduled to leave Sunday (3/27) via Eurostar from London to Bruge (three days), to Brussels (two days) and on to Amsterdam for 5 days. We are presently residing in the UK. UK citizens have been told not to travel Brussels. I'm not sure how long this will last. If it is only for a day or two, I'm looking into switching from staying in Brussels to staying in Ghent or Antwerp instead. My problem is that in Belgium, all trains go through Brussels. Are the train transfers pretty easy in Brussels or will we need to go across town? Eurostar's website is horrible.
Also, would you recommend Ghent or Antwerp with the kids?
I'm not convinced we are going, just trying to work out all the scenarios.

Posted by
2487 posts

Governments can have quite different policies with regard to travel advices. The Dutch government's advice is limited to stay alert and to follow the instructions of the local authorities.
According to their website Eurostar is running according to normal schedule as from today. The relevant railway stations in Brussels are open again.
The visible security measures in Brussels might make your stay less pleasant. Both Ghent and Antwerpen are good alternatives. The very frequent trains for both cities leave from your arrival station, Bruxelles-Midi (Brussel-Zuid).

Posted by
1005 posts

I understand if you are traveling with children why you may want to avoid Brussels. On the other hand, it would a major historic experience for them that they would never forget. I know the people would welcome you with open arms and you'd be well treated wherever you go, since so many tourists are canceling their trips now.

Between the two alternatives, I'd probably choose Antwerp because it's a bigger city and there are more attractions for younger travelers, such as the MAS complex, the Musical Instruments Museum, and even the amazing train station with four levels.

Posted by
518 posts

I'm sure that with children involved the decision is more difficult. I would imagine that with heightened security now, it might be safer, granted, the overall atmosphere might not be the best for kids or a holiday (assuming you're traveling for pleasure).

Posted by
11613 posts

I would stay in Gent rather than Antwerpen.

Posted by
7414 posts

I don't see it as a safety issue, because there is the potential for terrorism anywhere. And there is an almost daily "gun incident" in the United States. I see it as a tourism convenience issue.

Because of increased security, I would support a change in your plans - although I love Belgium and have been there many times. Is Eurostar offering a free change in ticketing? Do you have Any Belgian Station tickets? I ask the latter only because you would have to go to the ticket booth to buy tickets onward to Antwerp, and that might require (like at any airport, any time) an ADDITIONAL security screening when you come back to the train platforms. I hope that you can get from the Eurostar track to the local train platform without a separate screening, but it's hard to answer that question - even with the internet.

Antwerp is an ideal destination for children, probably better than Brussels. The trains to Antwerp (many times an hour) leave from the same station as the Eurostar arrives, even though it is NOT Brussels Centraal, which is in all the news reports. All these trains top in all three Brussels downtown stations. They can be a little annoying with luggage, because they are busy commuter trains. No reservations are needed to Antwerp, but there's a hefty surcharge to buy tickets on the train. I've never actually done that.

Posted by
16894 posts

All Eurostar tickets are changeable, with a fee of €40 per person plus any additional ticket costs, but I believe that is only for the same route and direction. Eurostar and Thalys are only offering refunds for tickets that were scheduled on March 22 and 23.

Eurostar trains to Brussels also stop at Lille and there's nothing to stop you getting off there, if you really prefer, but it would make your trip longer and require extra tickets on a local train to Bruge or Gent.

Traveling from Bruge or Gent to Amsterdam, you can easily connect in Antwerp instead of Brussels.

Posted by
5345 posts

"UK citizens have been told not to travel Brussels."

This is not the case. The official advice at present is: 'The Belgian threat level is Level 4 – a serious and imminent threat. You should remain alert and vigilant, stay away from crowded places, and follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities.'

There was advice not to go issued for the day the bombings took place. This was superseded the same afternoon by the above.

Posted by
5345 posts

"If UK citizens have been told to avoid in Bruxelles then don't come."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been passing on the advice of the Belgian authorities who in the immediate aftermath in the morning were advising their own citizens not to travel to Brussels unless absolutely necessary. This was recinded later in the day.

Posted by
616 posts

I do not think there will be another terrorist attack in Brussels. We never know when or where this can happen.
Antwerp is a bigger city than Ghent. It has also a wonderful zoo which is nice for the children and also Rubens House which is wonderful and then the Jewelers and clothes designers street, the harbour.
Ghent is smaller has a really nice city centre and nice churches and museums. Another thing, I like Ghent people better😊
There are also many other places in Belgium to go to.
I posted a message a few days ago mentioning other places and cities. Many places are accessible by train.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and ideas. We ended up going and I am very glad we did. It has been a very educational experience for the kids and myself. In addition our travels and observations have precipitated some insightful conversations.

Posted by
4 posts

Hi everyone,

I hope you enjoy your trip. Brussels is back to normal . The metro is going as before (except Maelbeek station which is still closed) and the airport is going to open anytime soon.