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Summary: Belgium is in western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands, and is made of flat coastal plains in the northwest, central rolling hills, and rugged mountains of the Ardennes Forest in southeast. This modern private enterprise economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, and its highly developed communication and transportation networks.

Capital: Brussels
Time Zone: DST +0200 UTC
Transportation: Zaventem is the international airport in Brussels, which is also the home to the end of the eurorail and central rail hub for the country. Antwerp and Oostende are primary water ports.
Population: 10,348,276
Languages: Flemish, French
Power: 230 V, 50 Hz
Currency: Euro - Currently 1 EUR € = 1.4607 USD $
Climate: Belgium is overall a temperate climate with mild winters and cool summers. In short, pissing rain, sunny, pissing rain.


Brussels: A balance exists with buildings that date back to the 13th century, and modern shopping and the NATO headquarters. Must see places include the Manneken Pis, who, by legend, saved the city from burning down in the simplest of ways, the Grand Place, in the core of the old city and in the shadow of the Palace of Belgium's royalty, the Bois de la Cambre, with paths, a small lake, and open air concerts every Sunday during the summer, plus about a dozen large and small parks that wrap between the city's buildings and blocks.

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Antwerp: An underrated tourist destination, Antwerp played host to the 1920 Olympic Games, and features in addition to the baroque architecture and art, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, the beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady, and the Plantin-Moretus Printing Museum, hosting a rare Gutenberg Bible. Stop by the Grote Markt, a marketplace surrounded by 19th century guildhouses, or the shops along the Meir, two great places for shopping that are for pedestrians only.

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Bruges: Bruges, the former center of commerce for Europe, and home of the world's first stock exchange, is 60 miles northwest of Brussels and is a well preserved 13th century medieval city near the beaches of Belgium's coast. Bruges is quiet and serene, with art, history and canals serving as distractions from Burg and Markt, the two medieval cores of the city. See the Groeninge Museum and the Gruuthuse, the two best museums in the area with excellent collections of art and history.

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Waterloo: Take an afternoon away from Brussels and see the countryside that featured the historic fall of Napoleon. Just 10 miles away from the capital, the battlefields of Ligny, Quatre-Bras and Waterloo lie with memorials and the scenic vistas that punctuated the end of European French domination near small Belgian villages offering bed and breakfasts and a better insight into Belgium's backyard. A local guide should be brought to tour the area and help paint a picture of where each army hid, marched, and fought.

 
Yard of Beer: A yard of beer really is a yard of beer. When drinking it, rotate the ball at the bottom just as the line of air gets there to avoid a shower of beer.

Beer: Stella Artois is the best known Belgian beer, but be adventurous and try some of the lesser known beers, they will surprise you. Brussels is known as the city of a thousand beers for a reason.

Chocolate: Belgian chocolate is one of the world's finest. You will find both large chocolateries like Godiva and Leonidas, and small family owned shops making and selling a wide selection. There is nothing better than chocolates fresh from the shop - they also make great gifts, if they ever last long enough to make it home before they're eaten.

Store Closures: As many stores are family owned and run, vacations mean that the whole store shuts down for 4 or 5 weeks while the family is away. It is not uncommon to find a paper taped to the door explaining where they are going and when they will be back.

Food: Belgium is well known for a variety of great ethnic foods, but frites and mayonnaise are something you can't miss. They also have something called a mitraillette, which is typically a large sub bun filled with fries, donair meat and garlic sauce.

Phrases: Note that French can be commonly used here in most shops in both urban and rural areas, especially in the South, with Flemish, a variant of Dutch, common in the north.

Tipping: Normally included, but most leave a tip by rounding up to the next Euro or two if the service was good.





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