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      Belgium Travel Tips

 Belgium

Belgium is situated in the west of Europe. The land here mostly comprises of flat coastal plains in the northeast, and southeast is occupied by the Ardennes Forest. Dutch, Flemish, French and German are the official languages of Belgium, with Dutch being the widely spoken followed by French. The weather here is pretty predictable. Months from April to September are the warmest. Otherwise the weather is pretty humid and skies are gray, that explains why umbrellas and raincoats are a part of the dressing. So, if the visit is planned for holidays during the rainy season, one must not forget to carry sufficient cover for maximum protection, as this is a coastal region. In case of emergency call 100 or 112.

Culture

Belgians are English-friendly and will make every attempt to speak in English with a foreigner. Always remember to carry a small gift or at least flowers especially when invited over dinner. The dress to wear will be mentioned in the invitation, when invited for a party. Smoking in public is acceptable.

 

 

ostrich feathers on Shrove Tuesday

 

The Binche, Gilles wearing their hat with ostrich feathers on Shrove Tuesday, photo by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT. Binche is a municipality located in the predominantly French-speaking southern region of Belgium, in the province of Hainaut. The Gilles are the oldest and principal participants in the Carnival of Binche in Belgium. The Binche Gilles go out on Shrove Tuesday until the late hours and dance traditional dances. Other cities in Belgium have a tradition of Gilles at carnival, but the Binche Gilles are by far the most famous.

 

Binche, Gilles wearing their masks.

Binche, Gilles wearing their masks, photo by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT.

 

 

The Gilles.

 More Binche, Gilles by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT.

 

Shopping

Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ostend, Namur, Mons, Liège, Ghent and Mechelen are the main shopping centers. Belgium is famous for ceramics and hand-beaten copperware from Dinant, laces from Bruges, crystals from Val Saint Lambert, woodcarvings from Spa and Belgium’s finest chocolates. In jewelry, diamonds from Antwerp are on high demand.

 

Ville-Haute square in Charleroi, Belgium

Ville-Haute square in Charleroi, Belgium, photo by Jmh2o.

 

Eating Out

The specialty of most of the restaurants is horse and rabbit meat dishes. Although visitors can find a wide range of ethnic foods, but the most famous are frites and mayonnaise and mitraillette; mitraillette is a large bun filled with fries, donair meat and garlic sauce, the vegetarians can ask for a veg. substitute for the donair meat. While eating at a restaurant, tipping is considered customary along with the value-added tax. At the cinemas, leave a €0.50 tip for the attendant and €0.25 after using the public toilets.

 

grand place Brussels

The Grand Place, Brussels, photo by Vase Petrovski.

 

The Grand Place, the Town Hall is at the left., photo by Mats Halldin.

The Grand Place, the Town Hall is at the left., photo by Mats Halldin.

 

The Brussels Town Hall by night.

The Brussels Town Hall by night, Belgium, photo by Luc Viatour.

 

Travel

SN Brussels Airlines flies to more than 58 destinations in Europe and as well as worldwide. The Brussels Zayentem airport is twelve km from the city and it takes 35 minutes to reach the city from the airport. The airport has facilities like duty free shops, car parking, taxi booking, car hiring, banks, post office, restaurants, and medical help. Internet and fax services are provided for the passengers. The Airport City Express train transports passengers to three main railway stations - Brussels North, Central and South. One can avail a bus which runs regularly from the airport, taxis can also be hired which wait outside the arrival hall. Tipping the taxi drivers is considered customary. Train runs every 15 minutes.

 

en:Brussels South Charleroi Airport

Brussels South Charleroi Airport, photo by Fernandopascullo.

 

Brussels South Charleroi, is 5 km away from Charleroi and 46 km from Brussels. Ryan air serves as the local airline here and has cheap deals for several European destinations to and from Charleroi. The facilities provided here are bus and train services, café, car hire, and duty free shops.

Ostend airport is 5 km away from the city and car parking, car hire, duty free shops, and restaurants are provided here.

Antwerp airport is just 2 km away from the city. Buses run to the Brussels Central Station every few minutes.

Liege is situated at a distance of 5 km away from the city. Buses run at regular interval here.

 

Refurbished Thalys PBKA

Refurbished Thalys PBKA, photo by Maurits90.

 

There is a network of high-speed trains, which are operated by Thalys, from Belgium to France, connecting Brussels with other destinations like Bordeaux, Chambéry, Cannes, Marseille, Lyon, Nice, Valence Perpignan, and Rennes. Booking should be made in advance for these trains.

 

ICE et Thalys

ICE et Thalys, photo by JH Mora.

 

The national railway operates through out the day providing service every few minutes to destinations such as Andorra, Austria, France, Czech, Germany, Italy, Poland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the UK and the Netherlands. Insiders can avail the Inter-Rail pass which allows visitors to travel almost 29 European Countries. This service is valid for residents who have been settled there for more than 6 months.

 

Mons (Belgium), the city hall

Mons, Belgium, the city hall, photo by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT.

Mons is a municipality located in the predominantly French-speaking southern region of Belgium, in the Belgian province of Hainaut, Mons the capital. Mons was selected to be the European capital of culture in 2015.

 

Duty Free Items

Visitors can carry alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes, coffee and tea without getting customs duty levied on them, but only the goods should be limited. Check out for the limits before carrying such goods. Food items that are not preserved are better avoided.

 

Electricity

Voltage is 230 V and frequency is 50 Hz.