Thursday, January 15, 2009
Belgium always had a lot more going for it than the faceless political and bureaucratic buildings that litter the outskirts of its capital, Brussels, would have you believe. A string of engaging historic cities such as Bruges, Ghent, Liège, Namur (and Brussels itself) offer impressive architecture, lively nightlife, first-rate cuisine and numerous other attractions for visitors. Today, the anachronistic images of ‘boring Belgium' have been well and truly banished, as more and more people discover its very individual charms for themselves.There is reinvented Antwerp, a hotbed of fashion and slick modern design, along with the more bucolic charms of the beautiful mountainous Ardennes region to the east, and the delightfully picturesque Meuse Valley as well as the sweeping sand of the coastline resorts of the western seaboard. Belgium is also a land whose specialities include ubiquitous beers, delicate chocolates, moules frites and Belgian waffles.Easy to both access and to travel around, pocket-sized Belgium is divided into the Flemish north (Flemish-speaking) and the Walloon south (French-speaking). Brussels, the capital, is the heart of both the country and the European Union, as well as the headquarters of NATO.