Extended Weekend: Benelux – Luxembourg, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Bruges

Posted by Strainu on August 13, 2008
From Paris

Versiunea română aici.

Transport

Map

There are 3 ways to get around:

  • a car – which we choose; we rented a car from Sixt and left for the “Autoroute du Nord”; the highway is expensive and not as good as you’d expect in France (still better than the ones in Romania, of course) and pretty much “average” in Belgium and Holland.
  • a bus – Eurolines has routes between all this cities; the trip takes forever – count 7 hours between Paris and Amsterdam.
  • Thalys – the high speed train that liks Paris, Bruxelles, Koln and Amsterdam + regional trains from there.

We had some problems with the GPS in Utrecht, due to the road works in progress which were changing the look of the city. The rest of the road was smooth. You should consider about 4 euros/h or 30euros/day for parking in Holland.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Accommodation

The initial idea was to spend 1 night in Liege, 2 nights in Amsterdam and one in Bruges. Due to the lack of time, we gave up on the nights in Liege and Bruges. In Liege we found a Premiere Classe hotel downtown and in Bruges a small hostel, both at about 20 euros/person/night.

Amsterdam was a whole different story. The hostels were both expensive and fully booked 2 weeks ahead. As a back-up solution, we decided to stay in Utrecht, about 35 km from Amsterdam. We chose the Strowis Hostel, which delivered all the promises from the site. We particularely liked the back yard and the hosts. 🙂

Rating: ★★★★☆

The cities

Luxembourg is a mix between a tourist and a business city. It tries to do both roles as good as possible and in my opinion it works. However, not everybody agreed – some of my friends found it too “official”.
Luxemburg in a strange light on deviantart

Amsterdam is of course known for its canals, bikes and drugs. I personally found it to be a dirty city (the only one in western Europe who could be compared with Bucharest) and hard to live in if you have any kind of prejudices – and how many of us can honestly say they have none? On the other hand, I just loved the museums; perhaps was it because I am attracted to Flemish painters because of their choice of colors or because of the nice contrast between the old artworks and the modern layout.
DSC03829DSC03830

Utrecht was much more “quiet” than Amsterdam. Despite the same active night life, the city seemed to always me asleep. I’m sorry we only had a few hours to explore it.

Bruges is the medieval city by excellence. Between the old churches and houses you walk on small stone-paved, car-free (at least in the city center) streets. The downside is that once you see one of those, the rest are pretty much alike.
DSC03833DSC03840
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Alternatives

Choose 1 city from Holland, 1 medieval city and a very small country (like Lichtenstein, Andorra, San Marino or Vatican) and you’re all set. Pretty cool, huh? 😀

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Links

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