It may be a little country, but it is a lovely one, so it is sad
that Belgium is often overlooked when travellers plan a trip to
Europe. Tucked between the desirable and obvious destinations of
London, Paris and Amsterdam, Belgium is usually treated as a
stepping stone to the English Channel, or, at most, a quick
stop-over for a look-see in the capital, Brussels.
Beyond the city of Brussels with its historic Gothic buildings
and tall European Union office blocks, is a treasure-trove of
undiscovered lazy seaside towns, and the inland wooded gorges of
the splendid Ardennes, sprinkled with medieval castles and steeped
in folklore. The medieval city of Bruges has character and charm
galore with a rich architectural heritage, graceful canals, winding
waterways and cobbled streets, and is a favourite with visitors.
Belgium is a country that has inspired many artists and writers
with the charm of its Gothic cathedrals, town halls, gabled
guildhouses and rich museums.
After a busy day exploring it all, evenings are best spent
experiencing Belgium's fantastic cuisine and delighting in the
country's variety of 300-odd brews of beer. Belgians have a
reputation for their gracious hospitality, no doubt due in part to
the country's location, which has created an international
crossroads for commerce and culture. Despite this, Belgium and its
distinct regions of Flemish Flanders (north) and French Wallonia
(south) has proudly preserved its traditions and identity.