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Seeking the exotic. Seeking adventure. Seeking . . . BELGIUM!

Now that I've taken a 1-week Rick Steve's "Best Of Paris" tour, Europe is my oyster (in that parts of it are slimy and smell funny). I've seen London, I've done Paris, and now I'm ready to branch out to more exotic locales -- and what locale is more exotic than Belgium: Germany's Crosswalk?

I'm sure a lot of people are going "Whoa, Slick -- let's not jump in with both feet here! I mean, Belgium: is anyone ever truly ready for the mystery and majesty of the Low Countries?" I sure think I am -- I love chocolate, beer and I've seen "In Bruges", TWICE! Plus, living in Seattle, I'm already pasty white and am familiar with dismal weather, prostitution and legal pot. Because of all this, in May of 2017, I plan on taking an 11-day Heart of Belgium and Holland Tour. But . . . I'll be in Europe for 21 days!

Such a dilemma!

I'm flying into Paris and plan on making that my base of operations. I figure that gives me two choices:

  1. Stay the nine days in Paris and do day trips to the D Day beaches and maybe Verdun if time allows.
  2. Figure out some way to "Live the Dream" and visit Prague, then go from there to Brussels to link up with the tour.

Paris to Prague seems to be a real PITA, with the options being Air France (pay up, sucker!) or Easyjet (get out and push, sucker!). The options between Prague and Brussels seem even more limited. Prague doesn't seem to be exceedingly "do-able" given my itinerary, but maybe some crafty Rick Steves' disciple has a different opinion.

Look forward to hearing your ideas, or just your general opinions on the "Cathay of the West".

Thanks as always,

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
2542 posts

My two cents worth would be to stay local and explore beautiful Normandy, the WWII and WWI sites and save Prague for the next trip exploring further east. However if you want to go to Prague then you could look into an open jaw ticket flying into Prague and out of Brussels. Or you could fly into Paris and spend a few days then fly to Prague on Air France, its less than $70 one way, non stop, for some random dates in July. You can fly Ryanair or Czech Air from Prague to Brussels for about the same price to connect up with your Belgium tour. These costs and options seem doable. Enjoy your year of planning and possibilities!

EDIT: BTW, I found these flight options for this summer on www.skyscanner.com that then takes you to the airline's own website to book.

Posted by
17017 posts

I, too, would keep Prague for another trip. Normandy is definitely a good idea. I'd also consider Alsace. Colmar, Strasbourg, and the small towns are very different from Paris and Normandy. Food is different, too. I think you'd enjoy the variety. There seems to be fast train service from Paris to Strasbourg. I wouldn't want to do this as a day-trip from Paris, though.

Posted by
100 posts

It seems Prague would take some effort. It depends on how much time you need to spend in France, having already been in Paris for a week. But mostly I simply wanted to say I enjoyed your post....LOL.

Posted by
352 posts

Thank you for all the fantastic replies; if there's one group on the internet that knows travel, it's the fine folks who haunt this forum!

So I guess I'll skip Prague. It'll still be there for the NEXT trip (I hope) and give me reason to return.

My ever-suffering wife is just jumping at the chance to indulge her husand in his historical pursuits -- I mean, WWI battlefields: who needs the Rue Cler when you're looking at a field and trying to imagine the ungodly carnage that took place there a century ago? Oh well, she put up with The Imperial War Museum in London, I'm sure she can put up with this as well.

REALLY looking forward to Normandy. I know I'm kind of a wise-acre, but I have the upmost reverence for the men and woman who fought in both world wars.

As for the 11 days in beautiful, beaucolic Belgium, they will be spent on a Rick Steves' tour -- if said tour is still offered in 2017.

Thanks again to everyone who replied,

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
4695 posts

Mike, you have a lot more choices than that, especially because you have so much lead time. For example, Paris and Brussels are both well-situated on Chunnel lines, which can be very cheap bought 90 days in advance. Do you want to see some of London and southern England? You seem not to have researched the many (closer than D-Day) day-trips available from Paris. Nine days is nothing!

Your Rick tour, I think, leaves out Antwerp, which is good for three or more days, not to mention, Mechelen, Leuven, and Lier. But that might be too much of the same "area".

Brussels is an easy two hours from Cologne (via Aachen), a favorite city of mine. Although it's not right there, you have the scenic Middle Rhine and the Mosel nearby by local trains. I suppose you don't want too much more France, but the Alsace area is unlike other parts of France. And the German Black Forest is nearby, although I think a separate trip if by public transportation. There's also Luxembourg, Trier (Germany), and Basel (if you can afford Switzerland.)

I do wish I'd visited Prague much sooner in my European travels. But it's more practical combined with Berlin or Dresden or Munich or Budapest.

Posted by
2084 posts

For the record, I just loved Belgium. Great towns, great food, great beer! My recommendation would be to spend time in Normandy (don't try to do this as a daytrip from Paris -- to far). There is so much to see and do there.

Posted by
11613 posts

I love Belgium, too. I have been told that the battlefields (and perhaps Mont Saint Michel) need a couple of days, are rather arduous as daytrips from Paris. I also really like Alsace, and the cities of Aachen, Trier, and Koln in Germany.

So many choices!

Posted by
11677 posts

Two more thumbs up for Belgium! Great little country.

Posted by
616 posts

Mike, Normandy concerns WWII not WWI
WWI most famous battlefields are Verdun in Northern France (Meuse) and Yser (Belgium).

Posted by
784 posts

Hi Mike -

I think I may need to get out my "in Bruges" movie out also and watch again before I leave in 21 days for Belgium/Holland. Also, maybe "Monuments Men" too! LOL

Have fun planning.

PS. I loved Prague during Christmas market last November!

Kim