Belgium- More than an Intro to Europe
Belgium Travel Blog› entry 16 of 54 › view all entries
April 22nd, 2008 – by: mainhart
Belgium. What a great country. On my second trip to Europe my friend and I stopped through this gem of a nation on our way from Partying in Amsterdam and seeing little out-of-the-way Luxembourg. I ended up loving that little country returning to it, and it didn't break the bank either time. I must confess, when I'm talking about Belgium here I specifically mean Flanders. Bruges is as beautiful as you may have heard. It is simply unreal. Kind of like a Gothic Venice of the North. Lovely canals, great chocolate, beautiful architecture, chocolate, a Michealangelo sculpture, chocolate. Just beware of some of the touristy chocolate places, go on a side street. There is also a Chocolate Museum that is fun. For you ladies they sell a Chocolate perfume. My ladyfriend made fun of it until she tried it on and then bought 2 bottles. Bruges has many nice affordable pensions despite it being a tourist mecca. I checked www.hotels.be to look for some. I stayed at the Hotel Nicholas. The problem, if you will, with Bruges is that it is too perfect. For a more gritty and more authentic Flemish city, hit Ghent and Antwerp. Still lovely cities with a lived-in feel. Antwerp has first rate art, great jazz clubs, and awesome food, and of course chocolate. Ypres is a wonderful place to soak in history as at 8pm everyday the city stops to commemorate the fallen heroes of World War 1 (yes the first one). Now a little bit about Brussels. While it truly is a world-class city, it felt transient, cold, almost like Washington DC. Great museums, architecture, etc, but I could not relate to its soul. While my travel partners agreed, my brother (new to the travel bug) and his girlfriend loved Brussels, so I must have missed something. In any case Belgium, with its great art, food, architecture, beer, chocolate, etc. makes a great destination. It's location on the west of the continent, with a major hub as its airport, and the widespread knowledge of English in Flanders makes it a great introduction to this addictive continent.
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