Let's go to BELGIUM next...

Aug 7th, 1998, 01:01 PM
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Let's go to BELGIUM next...

I get the impression that nobody goes TO Belgium. Lots of people go THROUGH Belgium on their way to someplace else, it seems. What would you recommend we be sure to see in Belgium? Do they have B&Bs or zimmer frei-type places where you can stay with the Belgians and get to know them?
Aug 7th, 1998, 02:25 PM
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Al, I feel like I'm "preaching to the Choir" here, from your previous responses on this forum you seem like a seasoned traveller. That said, you will probably hear a lot about Brugge, and it is indeed a lovely city. My favorite part of Belgium is the Ardennes, forested hills, little villages, a pleasure to drive or cycle through. It's hard to imagine the battles that took place here in WWII. I'm sorry to say on my trips to Belgium we stayed at 2 star hotels.
Aug 7th, 1998, 03:41 PM
wes fowler
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Charles DeGaulle, in speaking of France, once said it was impossible to govern a nation that made 600 kinds of cheese. What, then, to make of a country less than 200 years old, with over 600 kinds of beer, three official languages and a long history of being the battlefield for other nations? What to make of a nation that has for over three hundred years venerated the statue of a naked little boy urinating at one of the capital's street corners? What to make of a country that has more Michelin three starred restaurants per capita than France? What to make of a country with topography that ranges from diked shorelines on the North Sea to the flatlands of Flanders to the rolling hills of Brabant to the dense forests of the Ardennes? MAKE THE MOST OF IT! Tourists who travel THROUGH, rather than TO Belgium miss a great deal. The citizens seem to have a strong lust for life, reveling in festivals and fairs for the slightest of reasons. They have a penchant for the big band sounds of Stan Kenton, the Dorsey brothers and Harry James and have excellent jazz orchestras performing at their street festivals. They seem to like the idea of costumes and walking on stilts. They have a sense of the ridiculous (a comic strip museum?); a penchant for puppets (the Toone Theatre in Brussels); superb french fries (with mayonnaise?!?). elaborate gustatorial displays at Brussels' restaurants; imaginative and delightful street buskers; gregarious and personable people in the tourist service industry and serene and meticulously maintained military cemeteries from all too many wars. Belgium also seems to have some of the most attractive and comprehensive tourist oriented websites of any of the European nations. Visit the websites, then visit Belgium and be delighted.

I've got some specifics if you're interested; feel free to Email me directly. Won't be able to respond before the 10 of August, however.
Aug 7th, 1998, 07:17 PM
Posts: n/a
Thanks, good friends! I'm getting more interested with each posting about little old Belgium. In my former life, I used to go there on business but hardly saw anything but the inside of the companies I dealt with and the Brussels airport. But they sure do know how to cook! What great food! So any more ideas of "must-see" sights are greatly appreciated.
Aug 7th, 1998, 07:57 PM
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Our experience: The Flemish people were friendly and pleased to talk to Americans. Their English is excellent due to 2 BBC TV channels. Everyone has heard of Waterloo...stop if in the neighborhood...didn't take much of our time. In Brussels, find the Petit Sablon and enjoy the gardens and statues of Counts Egmont and Horne. (Count Egmont inherited title of Prince of Gavere from this mother's family...a relative to us??) See the inside of Notre Dame du Sablon across the street. Travel to Bastogne and roam some country roads imagining the American soldiers (your grandfather, perhaps) fighting there. Be impressed (at least I was) to drive into town and find the United States flag flying over the square (sorry to eliminate the surprise but it did look good after a few weeks from home). Ardennes is, of course, in the Walloon area and be prepared to use some basic French. This was on our first European trip so brings back special memories.
Aug 9th, 1998, 03:54 PM
Posts: n/a
My dad was stationed in Belgium during WWII, and lived with a farm families near Mons and Charleroi. I've been to the country three times. As you fly into Brussels in the wee hours of the morning, you'll see the entire country lit up from the west on eastward--a very nice welcome, I thought. At the airport, take the train to the center of town. Stay overnight in one of the hotels close to the train station--your guide books will have listings. Walk around the Grand Place, look for the Godiva chocolate shop, and duck around that corner down aways and find yourself in front of a wonderful covered shopping arcade. Stroll through and look for unique chocolate shops. Turn left at the end of the arcade, go a street or two, left again, and you will find yourself walking through a long alleyway full of cafes, fresh fish markets, etc. It is all there! The next day, take the train to Brugge and enjoy the medieval town, buy a tapistry or a pillow, walk the cobblestone streets and try to imagine what it would be like to live there years ago! Maybe just spend a few days in Belgium on your way to somewhere else, but spend them well!

Even if you have a four-hour layover, stash your luggage in a locker and take the train downtown and stroll around the Grand Place, buy some chocolate, drink some beer.

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