I gave the Jam Hotel in Brussels, Belgium, a try. My review.
Belgium is one of the smaller European countries, but very much worth a visit. Traveling here can be a destination on its own, or a day trip when you are in France, Germany or the Netherlands.
Languages in Belgium
Belgium has three official languages: the largest language group lives in the north and speaks Flemish: a variation on Dutch. The south of the country has a French-speaking population. A small part in the east speaks German. Brussels is officially a bilingual (French/Flemish) area. Most Belgians speak English too, however, so there’s a choice when you visit. And while language has been a sensitive issue over the years, you’ll find that a little bit of local language will buy you lots of credit before the Belgian continues the conversation with you in English.
Getting to Belgium
Belgium has an international airport near Brussels, in Zaventem (BRU). There are regional airports in Charleroi (Mainly served by Ryanair) and Ostend (mostly charters).
Belgium has a dense train network and is connected with Paris (Thalys trains), London (Eurostar Trains), Amsterdam (Intercity and Thalys) and Germany (ICE Trains).
If you like dense traffic, traffic jams and people who have no idea what distance between car means or have no clue what an adapted speed is, you can join them by car.
Getting around in Belgium
Despite a lot of local comments on the quality, the public transportation system is a pretty dense one, that gets you around. The train between city centers combined with local trams, buses, and metro (subway) gets you to most locations.
In Flanders, the government still blocks ride-sharing systems such as Lyft and Uber, but in Brussels Uber is active and working well.
Things to visit in Belgium
If this is your first visit to Belgium, you must make sure to add the classics:
A medieval city, where the chocolate shops and souvenir places now color the street views.
Add the Central Train Station, the Grote Markt (main square) and Groenplaats, The Rubens house and the Meir (shopping street) to the first visit of Antwerp.
Capital of the European Union AND Belgium. The Grand Place and Manneken pis, the parks, musea.
Belgium has a long history with beers and a beer culture that’s worth exploring. The drinking age for beer in Belgium is 16. (18 for strong alcohol). When ordering a beer in Belgium, you’ll find that each beer is served in its own type of glass. Some of them, like the glass your Duvel comes in, are engineered to the point that the foam stays.
Start with French fries and Chocolate before you’ll discover that local restaurants are in no way less than what you’d find in Paris.
Visiting in winter
Most people like Belgium more in summer, including the Belgians. But if you happen to arrive here in December, make sure to add the Christmas markets to your visit.
Visa requirements for Belgium
Many countries in Western Europe are part of the Schengen zone. Belgium is part of that area. If you travel to Belgium and will stay here for a longer time, you should pay a visit to the city hall when you arrive.
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On my way to Beijing and Hanoi, the next stop was Belgium: Brussels, Antwerp and some Roeselare and Bruges.
Koen’s new journey is about to start. This time it’s all about exploring Europe and Asia. Wherever possible, I’ll be trying to travel by train or ferry. A slower way of traveling should bring a nice pace to collect some impressions and meet some people.
Being a Belgian on the Antarctic waters can not go without thinking about Adrien De Gerlache at certain moments. I choose to take his book “15 months on Antarctica” with me on this trip. Refreshing my French and at the same time reading about one of the first people who came where we are now, […]