Located at the crossroads of Western Europe between France and Holland Belgium is an intriguing country boasting stunning architecture and fabulous cuisine. Famous for its strong dark beers (Belgium produces more beer than any other country) mouth-watering chocolate, Agatha Christie’s shrewd detective, Hercule Poirot and the comic strip character, Tintin, there is much to see and do in this fascinating country. Take a cruise on the network of ancient canals in Bruges, treat yourself to a delicious waffle snack on a beach in Oostende, dine on mussels and fries, browse in a fine arts museum or learn about the county’s art for chocolate-making at Brussels’ Musée Cacao.
The capital, Brussels, is a lively cosmopolitan city and the HQ of the European Union (EU) and NATO as well as a whole host of international trade and finance companies. It may be a governmental town but Brussels has plenty more going for it. In 1893 and the 1910’s the city was the scene of an architectural revolution when a bold new style, the Art Nouveau movement, came into place which spread to Paris, Barcelona and Glasgow. The Lower Town is the spiritual heart of Brussels and split into three; Grand’ Place, the old medieval area, St-Géry and Ste-Catherine, where all the hip bars, restaurants and designer shops are located and Marolles, which is known as the working class area.
Soak up the city’s cosmopolitan atmosphere taking in its beautiful Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque buildings then dine in one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants (Brussels rivals Paris on the Michelin-starred restaurants quota) before taking a wander in the Parc de Laeken which houses the Atomium and several palaces. Finish off your day with a Belgian beer on a terrace of one of the city’s many bars.
In the north, Flanders (the Dutch speaking region) is a flatland criss-crossed by canals, with medieval art cities, Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent. The beautiful medieval city of Bruges is known as the ‘Venice’ of the North and one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. In the French speaking area in the south, Wallonia, you’ll find the rolling hills of the Ardennes, countless castles, and the cities of Liege, Namur, and Tournai and with more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world you can enjoy acquainting yourself with Belgium’s heritage.
With a population of around 10 million Belgium is a multicultural and multilingual country with three official languages (French, Flemish and German), but English, dubbed the fourth ‘unofficial’ language is also widely spoken. The Belgians don’t take themselves too seriously and are typically warm and welcoming people, all the more reason to combine a trip to this fascinating country with your overseas healthcare.
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