5 Reasons Why Belgium Is Not Boring At All
It’s a good thing I didn’t know that there were so many “experts” out there, labelling Belgium the strangest or the most boring country in the world.
I’ve visited the small country in the West part of Europe a numerous times and each time I found something new and amazing: from the huge number of beers to the delicious snacks and dishes; from the long fine sand beaches to the beautiful architecture in every town or city I’ve visited; from the festivals in summer with open air concerts to the Christmas markets and decorations and the most fascinating New Year’s Eve fireworks, that I’ve experienced.
Here are several interesting facts about Belgium that I’m sure will convince you that this small country is anything but boring.
1 | The People
The official languages (yes, plural!) in Belgium are three: Dutch, French and German. Almost everywhere I’ve been we’ve managed to communicate with Belgians in either a mixture of Dutch and German or in English. With one small exception.
Several years ago I suggested to my husband (boyfriend at the time) to take a short road trip to Belgium around Easter. I had been in the country several times already and had a lot of fun each time, so it wasn’t very difficult to convince him to make the trip instead of staying at home, despite the weather and the fact that Easter was in the middle of March this year.
We booked a hotel in Liège, although we visited several other destinations in the area. No one seemed to speak English, or German, or Dutch in Liège, not even the staff at the hotel we were staying.
We don’t speak French (the language spoken in this part of Belgium), and this made for several very funny situations.
My favourite one took place in the Liège Cathedral, where two very elegant elderly ladies tried to start a conversation with us. Soon they realised that we don’t speak French and they tried very hard to recall all of the English words which they’ve learnt in their youth… during World War II from the US soldiers which helped liberate the city.
They ended up giving us some nice suggestions what to see next and explaining to us the cathedral’s history and some of its main attractions.
A couple of years later we ended up in the middle of summer in Brussels on a weekend trip.
The weather was fantastic and the whole city seemed to be celebrating outdoors. Half of the city centre was closed for a summer festival with beer and food stalls, live music and lots of happy people.
We stood for several minutes in line to get some beer and when our turn came, we ordered and reached out for our wallets to pay.
It turned out, that we couldn’t pay in cash; instead we needed to first buy coupons from another stall and pay with those.
While we were looking around to locate the stall we needed to go to and the bartender was telling us he’ll keep the beer for us and we only need to hand him over the coupons, a complete stranger handed over his coupons and told us the beers were on him.
Just out of nowhere, just because we were in his city and he felt like buying some tourists beer to welcome them and show them a good time.
2 | The Beer
With over a thousand original beers and 180 breweries, Belgium offers a style for everyone: from sweet to bitter, from strong to almost non-alcoholic, from black through red to white plus several other colours in between and fruit flavours.
Please don’t try to taste them all, it is impossible!
Almost every style of beer is served in a unique glass, which is considered to improve even more the taste of the beer.
My personal favourites are Kwak with its 8.4% and most tripel beers that I’ve tried.
A great place to taste Belgian beers is the Great Market Square in the Old Town centre of Brussels.
The amazing architecture of the buildings surrounding the square and the mixture of people from all over the world passing by or taking pictures make for a great décor to go with your glass of beer.
Another interesting place where we enjoyed our drinks very much was a bar we found completely by accident on New Year’s Eve after watching the fascinating fireworks on the riverfront in Antwerp, Belgium’s second-largest city and world capital of diamond trade.
We left the river bank to go somewhere warm and finish the celebration and ended up in a bar which takes up a whole building in the old town, called Café de Muze.
The atmosphere of this place was so incredible that we didn’t want to leave despite being exhausted from sightseeing and celebrating.
3 | Belgian Chocolate
Enough said. Look at these photos and try not to drool. I challenge you!
4 | Castles And Châteaux
According to multiple sources, there are over 3000 castles and châteaux in Belgium.
Three thousand on an area of a little over thirty thousand km2!
Only 300 of those are open to the public.
I admit I’ve only visited about 5 of them but they were all very impressive. If you’ve read my previous post, you already know that I really love visiting castles and transporting myself into other ages.
For a complete list of all the castles please visit BelgianCastles.be.
5 | Fairy Tale Towns
Bruges, Namur, Leuven, Ghent: those are only the ones that I’ve visited, but there are so many more yet to be seen.
As with castles, I love walking down a street and wondering what life used to be back when it was built. I like to look at the buildings and imagine the people who lived there.
The best part of a tour is walking in one of the houses on a marketplace, which has been transformed into a restaurant or a bar, going inside, sitting on a table by the window and watching the people pass by.
I know that life back then was not as romantic as we all like to imagine, but at least the architecture was much more inspiring than most of the buildings designed nowadays. Having hundreds of statues of the important people of the day on the façade of a city hall is just a great way to remember them.
I think those pictures speak for themselves, so I’ll leave you to enjoy them!
Are you now convinced that Belgium is not boring at all? What can I say, if this doesn’t convince you, then you and I have not much in common.
P.S. Have you been to any of these places or tasted Belgian beer or chocolates? How did you like them? Or are you already packing your bags and booking your first trip to Belgium?