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Organizing our short stay.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
32,304 posts
62 reviews
Organizing our short stay.

Hello! We are arriving by train on Friday, July 27th. We will get to Antwerp at 12:30 and then I guess we pick up a domestic train from there, so I'm guessing we'll be in Bruges for...14:00? Hotel is booked, so checked in and luggage left behind by 15:00? We leave the next day to pick up a boat in Niewpoort at 16:00, so we probably don't need to be away until 14:00 (train to Oostend and then tram from there is the current plan). We are a family of 2A and 2T.

So! That gives us a late afternoon and evening, then the following morning to see a bit of the key things in Bruges. Belgium is chocolate and beer (the way Canada is moose and snow. :) ), so in that short time, I'm thinking we will try to organize ourselves to do a chocolate tour, a beer tour and a canal tour. Sound good so far? We may do a church, we won't do a museum here (we have a lot of that on this trip, we have to pace ourselves. My kids still haven't forgiven me for three days of museums in Florence!)

It looks like Choco Story and Bourgone des Flanders? Is it reasonable to try and do Choco story AND the brewery between 15:00 and closing on the Friday evening? Or should we do the canal tour and the chocolate tour on the Saturday morning? We are happy to walk - we averaged 15 km per day in London.

Also, we are all French/English bilingual. How much effort should I put into learning some Dutch? Will I need it? Or will be ok with French and English?

7 replies to this topic
Antwerp, Belgium
Level Contributor
198 posts
4 reviews
1. Re: Organizing our short stay.

Bruges is a tourist town so you won't have any problem if you speak english. French is manadatory in schools but I wouldn't count on everybody speaking it fluently.

Learning some key words (hello, please, thank you, ..) is always appreciated wherever in the world you go.

Please take a few minutes off when you're in Antwerp because the train station is really worth it. Both the inside and the outside are pieces of art.

Champlon, Belgium
Level Contributor
9,100 posts
5 reviews
2. Re: Organizing our short stay.

Consider French to be the language of last resort anywhere in Flanders (except in the handful of "facility" communes). A lot of Flemish TV is in English (with Dutch sub-titles, of course) so reasonably good English is widely spoken there.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
32,304 posts
62 reviews
3. Re: Organizing our short stay.

Dank je. Good tip on taking a bit of time to see the Antwerp station. Vacation planning is **always** about making difficult choices with your time, but if we can be in Bruges around 2 pm, then that should be fine.

Do I need to prebook those tours? Are they going to get jammed up with hoards of summer tourists? If I don't have to prebook, then I can decide on arrival what we are in the mood for, but if we are going to find ourselves wandering around the outsides being told everything is sold out for the day, then I'm going to have to decide how much time we need for the activities and what order we are doing them in.

I've already made my dinner reservation for Amsterdam. Is it wise to reserve for Bruges? Especially on a Friday night?

Antwerp, Belgium
Level Contributor
198 posts
4 reviews
4. Re: Organizing our short stay.

Technically speaking the phrase "dank je" is for very informal situations only and it's not used a lot. A formal situation (basically every situation where you're not close friends with the person you're talking to) requires the phrase "dank u" . I don't know about Bruges but in Antwerp saying "merci" is totally acceptable too.

You will be in a very touristic place in the peak tourist season, it's up to you if you want to gamble on prebooking or not.

If everything is sold out you can always join a "free" city guide since you don't have to prebook those and they never sell out. They are not really free because they work for tips, consider them to be the Ubers of city guides.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
32,304 posts
62 reviews
5. Re: Organizing our short stay.

I'll keep my ears open and try to sort out the language on the fly. We managed in Italy (although I did have a very useful app on my iPad that was very helpful in a few situations).

<<it's up to you if you want to gamble on prebooking or not.>>

That sounds like prebooking is a good idea. Check.

Bromley
Destination Expert
for Bruges
Level Contributor
1,155 posts
27 reviews
6. Re: Organizing our short stay.

Hi

I would highly recommend booking any dinner reservations for Friday and Saturday nights. Popular restaurants book up and you may be disappointed if you have not made a reservation.

I do not believe you can book the canal tours, it is just a turn up and queue.

Choco Story can only be reserved for groups of 15 or more, again just turn up.

Bourgone des Flanders can be booked here:

https:/…individual

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
32,304 posts
62 reviews
7. Re: Organizing our short stay.

thank you, NW. That's what I needed to confirm. On reflection, I think we'll try and do the brewery on arrival that afternoon, then do the rest on Saturday morning. I don't think we need to be on our way to Nieuwpoort before about 2 pm, so we have a few hours to explore. I am expecting our hotel can hold our luggage for a few hours.

I've done some research and it looks like transit to Nieuwpoort is fairly straightforward, although slow: train to Oostend and then there's a tram along the coast from what I can see? With four of us, would a taxi be a good idea? Not sure what the fares will add up to for the train + tram for four. Although, we have time, and I often opt for public transit for the experience of it. Nah, never mind. We have the time and I think the tram along the coast could be an experience worth having. (One of my objectives when arranging trips is to find as many different modes of transport as I can. Keeps the journeys interesting)

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