Savvy Travel Decisions

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BELGIUM:

 

Belgium is roughly the land mass of Maryland.  Bordered by Germany, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and the sea, Belgium is a mere two hours away from Paris by high speed train.

 

LANGUAGE:  

French, Dutch, and Flemish. 

 

CURRENCY: Euros. 

 

PINCHING PENNIES: TO TIP OR NOT TO TIP:  

In restaurants, tipping is added to the meal bill.  Additional gratuity is not expected. 

 

MAJOR HOLIDAYS:

 

 

 

ANTWERP:

 

Antwerp is a Flemish port city which is known for its fashion industry and antique furniture.

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN ANTWERP:   

June, July, and August. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN ANTWERP:  

Plan a side-trip to nearby Bruges, a city with well-preserved medieval architecture, canals and beautiful swans. 

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN ANTWERP:

Shop for diamonds.

 

 

 

BINCHE:

 

MAJOR HOLIDAYS: 

July 21: Independence Day. 

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:  

Late February: Carnival

 

 

 

BRUGES:

 

Bruges features cobblestone streets and medieval bridges crossing romantic canals. 

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS: 

Mid-March: Cinema Novo Film Festival. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN BRUGE: 

Meander the streets of this medieval gem past gabled buildings and through the bustling market. 

 

Take a boat ride along the city’s canals. 

 

 

BRUSSELS:

 

Brussels is a Cosmopolitan capital city of Belgium and a major trade center.  The city is a hub of the European Union.  There is a population of one million.  Brussels is less expensive than other major European cities to visit and is home to the European Union and NATO.  There’s lot s to see and do in Brussels: 200 museums, vibrant nightlife, and excellent shopping. 

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION IN BRUSSELS:   

May and June has the nicest weather.

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN BRUSSELS:  

January: Antique and Fine Arts Fair. 

April: Jazz Marathon Weekend. 

April: Festival des Arts

May: Lesbian and Gay Pride

June: Music Village Jazz Concerts

July 6: Ommegang - major pageant with over 1,400 performers

July 21: National Holiday - Fireworks

August: Flower Carpet on the Grand Place

September: Grand Prix of Belgium

September: Brussels Marathon

September: Belgium Beer Weekend

September - October: International French-language Film Festival

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN BRUSSELS: 

By all means, visit the famed Grand Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

 

The eighteenth century Town Hall (Hotel deVille) is worth seeing.  Thiselegant structure is topped with a 310 foot tower. 

 

The unique Comic Strip Museum is escapism at its best. 

 

Several major new museums opened in 2009. 

 

May will usher in the re-opening of the Grand Curtius Museum and its famous arms museum. 

 

May brings the grand opening of the Herge Museum and June, the new Magritte Museum on Mont des Artes (Art Hill). The Royal Museum of Fine Arts (the Brueghels) is next door.  Do not miss it. 

 

The Musical Instruments Museum should also hold your attention. 

 

A day side trip to Leuven (16 miles) - a youthful town and home to one of Europe’s oldest universities.  As one might expect, with so many youth, Leuven is the brew capital of Belgium. 

 

The Dansaert District, with its quaint cobblestone streets, caters to the emerging fashion design and furniture industry. 

 

A 37 mile park to park biking trail is a real hit with bicyclists.  The city’s self-service bike rental program is very popular and heavily patronized. 

 

TASTY DINING IN BRUSSELS AND BELGIUM: 

Belgium serves chocolates, of course.  Belgium waffles, fresh mussels (moules) and Belgium fries aren’t far behind, all washed down with over 500 beers.  Two of the best are La Villette and L’Huiterie, both located opposite St. Catherine’s Church. 

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN BRUSSELS: 

Belgium chocolates give the Swiss a serious run for the sweet tooth with a choice of visiting over 2,000 chocolate shops. 

 

Antique shoppers will have a field day : plan your antique outing for the weekend and visit markets clustered at the Grand Sablon and Place du Jeu de Balle. 

 

The daily flea market between rue Haute and rue Blaes on the Place du Jeu de Balle has attracted throngs of bargain hunters ever since the 1870’s. 

 

Many vintage shops are clustered in the Marolle district. 

 

A NIGHT ON THE TOWN IN BRUSSELS:  

Jazzaholics will be in Heaven as Belgium really jumps. 

 

Beer, specifically lambic-style ale, is a local specialty. 

 

 

 

FLANDERS:

 

Locals of Flanders are known for their warm hospitality. 

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN FLANDERS: 

 

WINDOW SHOPPING IN FLANDERS: 

Flanders is known for their chocolates, beer, shopping, art, and high fashion. 

 

 

 

GHENT:

 

TIME ON YOUR HANDS IN GHENT: 

View what experts say is “the most important painting in the world”: ‘The Polyptych of the Holy Lamb’ by Van Eyck. 

 

 

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS:

 

BEST TIME TO VACATION: 

 

MAJOR EVENTS AND FESTIVALS:  

September 14, 2008: Formula One Grand Prix