Belgium Vacation question: Staying in Ghent?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Spaceloaf, Jun 25, 2012.

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  1. Spaceloaf

    Spaceloaf Initiate (165) Nov 27, 2008 Oregon

    Hi All,

    I'm hoping to get advice from some of you who have been to Belgium before.

    I'm vacationing there for 5 days (with no car) at the beginning of August, and I'm trying to figure out where to stay.

    Initially, I was thinking that Ghent makes sense from a geographic location because it's about equal distance to day-trip to Brussels, Antwerp, and Bruges. That leaves one day to rent bikes and hit Westvleteren/Struise, and another day for whatever (possibly actually exploring Ghent a bit).

    My concern is whether or not all this day-tripping is actually going to drive me crazy. For example, will I be kicking myself that I have to leave to catch the last train every night instead of staying for a couple more drinks? Or can I pretty much experience everything within the times the trains are running?

    The other possibility would be to break the trip into to two halves (e.g. 2 days in Bruge and 3 days in Brussels).

    Any advice or suggestions are appreciated!
  2. yinzer

    yinzer Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Very do-able.

    There are two train stations in Gent. Gent-Sint-Pieters will have direct routes to your destinations, Gent-Dampoort will a transfer.

    Check out , you can play with that site and get train schedules. If you click on "timetables" you can search and get a .pdf to print out. That is if you want too. You will be doing very simple routes.

    Also when you look at the schedules (at the stations) there are two. Weekend and weekday. I think the weekday are blue at the top and the weekend are brown'ish red. Whatever, just be aware.

    Lastly, I wouldn't advise timing it so as to take the last train. Also there are inner-city, inner region, etc. Basically some trains are express and some stop at very stop. when you look at the departure times also look at the arrival times. Also I think that the water closets in the stations close at 10 pm.

    All that being said, I'd split it into 2 days in Bruge and 3 days in Brussels. But that's just because that's what I do.
  3. Ruds

    Ruds Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2008 United Kingdom (England)

    I'd personally stick with Ghent as opposed to Brugge, there's a lot more to it

    The trains run until 2300/midnight, so depending what 'a couple more drinks' means to you, you should be fine!
  4. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    I wouldn't count on midnight in most cases, you should try and make sure to catch the last train at night between 10 and 11.
    azorie likes this.
  5. Ruds

    Ruds Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2008 United Kingdom (England)

    That's why I said 2300/midnight, not 'count on midnight'!

    Like anywhere, don't expect a train from the backwaters late late but if you want to head back from Brussels to either Ghent or Brugge, you'll get a train post midnight.
  6. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    I stayed in Gent for a few days, but I rented a car. I couldn't figure out the Belgian train website so just said "Fuck it!". I actually really liked the flexibility. Taking the train to De Heeren is rough, I've heard, and you'll definitely want to go there.

    If you're looking for someplace to stay, I enjoyed this place:
  7. yinzer

    yinzer Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Yikes, then don't click here:

    As long as you don't mind walking it not that bad. Pretty much any train trip you'll walk a few kilometers. From Brussels it's either no transfers and 2 km, or one transfer and 1 km.
  8. Spaceloaf

    Spaceloaf Initiate (165) Nov 27, 2008 Oregon

    Thanks for all the replies guys!

    It sounds like Ghent is interesting from a general tourist perspective, but not as great from a beer perspective.

    I don't mind walking (I live in the city so I'm used to walking a few km) so I guess no matter where I stay it's not too big of a deal. I just have to figure out how late I want to stay up drinking.
  9. JimDH

    JimDH Initiate (60) Feb 7, 2011 Kentucky

    Gent is quite nice from a beer perspective too. I stayed in a smaller city near there in February. Despite having to return even earlier each evening because of the limited train schedule, the day-trips worked out well.

    Enjoy your trip.
  10. JBogan

    JBogan Champion (825) Jul 15, 2007 California

    I really like Ghent, both from a beery perspective and not. Het Waterhuis is definitely worth a visit for a few beers, and Galgenhuis is just steps away and also worth a stop. And nearby there's that fantastic beer store, Dranken Geers.
    ThirstyBird and LambicKing like this.
  11. beerpirates

    beerpirates Defender (676) May 4, 2010 Belgium
    Beer Trader

    And don't forget beerstore de hopduvel , awesome selection !
  12. Spaceloaf

    Spaceloaf Initiate (165) Nov 27, 2008 Oregon

    Hi Guys, I just got back from my vacation and I have to say that Gent was incredible.

    In fact, I wish that I had spent all 5 days in Gent instead of splitting 3 in Gent and 2 in Brussels. Since I was using it as a travel base, I never really had a full day there to just enjoy the city.

    But the Waterhuis was awesome, Belga Queen was awesome (but also very expensive), and more to the point Gent seem to be way more alive than Bruges or Brussels by a long shot. I will definitely stay there again when I travel back to Belgium.

    For anyone curious, I found that the train schedule was not an issue because a man can only drink so much alcohol in a day. I never felt pressed for time in getting back to Gent, even when I went out to Poperinge because I had already drank so much by 9pm that I was ready for a break. Since Ghent has a very active nightlife it is no problem to drink more when you get back if you really feel the urge.

    Also, does anyone know the laws about public drinking? At night a lot of people just side by the canal and it seems like a great place to relax and drink if it's legal.
  13. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    As far as I know there are no laws against public drinking here as long as there's no disorderly conduct involved.
  14. tendermorsel

    tendermorsel Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2006 Massachusetts

    Yeah europeans aren't as uptight as us Americans. When over there I have never had an issue sipping a beer while walking around or while taking a train. Rodenbach cans are a personal favorite street beverage for Tender. I am also a big fan of Choo Choo chuggin on the train. Last trip me and my buddies actually had what could have been a sick tasting on the train from Amsterdam to Brussels. De Cam Kreik, Westy 12 and Cueve Delphine. Not bad for a train ride:slight_smile:
  15. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    Well from what I understand from my time in college (students read up on these things :grinning:) it's not as much a matter of there possibly being laws against it, as there's the bad luck of running into the wrong cop at the wrong time. 99% of the time though, if you're not drunk and pissing people off, no worries. From what I hear however, there is some clause against drinking when using public roads (even as a pedestrian), so drinking beer on the road can be a no-no depending on what cop you run into. You don't generally see a lot of beer drinking on the street here though, except for bums/alcoholics/both. I have to say, I've never seen anyone drink "good" beer (anything outside the supermarket swill lager category) on the street just because they can. It's commonplace to sit around with a bunch of friends in a park with a few cases of beer though.
  16. tendermorsel

    tendermorsel Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2006 Massachusetts

    Yeah... Don't want to make it sound like I am a drunk. LOL. I try very hard not to be the loud idiot American when traveling.

    I have no idea on the actual laws but from my experience as long as you arn't acting like an idiot or a drunkard you are fine. It's not that way here in the states.
  17. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    Yeah I've seen beer reviews where people shoot the video in a beautiful park somewhere and have to put everything away because they saw the park ranger :grinning:
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