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Belgium

By Edited May 2, 2014 0 0

If you've never been to the Kingdom of Belgium, you should go. It's a nice place for beginner travelers because its relatively safe, accessible and many people speak English. Belgium is a small country located in Europe. If you want a cheaper vacation go just before or just after the height of tourist season, June, July and August when students are free from school. April and early May are best.

The actual languages of Belgium are Dutch, French and German. I encourage you to learn at least a few phrases before you go. It endears you to locals when you at least try, no matter how bad your accent. Plus it's good for the brain to learn new languages. Knowing a broad spectrum view of their language will give you insight to how a culture thinks. A deep insight understanding will be attained in time if you stay long enough to acquire fluency. If you are traveling with children, encourage them to join you in your project to learn about Belgium before you go. Children learn languages much faster and more easily than adult, especially if they are under the age of 7, so don't think anyone is too young to participate. Imagine the fun the kids will have when they see in real life some place in Belgium they had previously seen only on a DVD!

The capital of Belgium is Brussels, which has many fine museums and interesting architecture. I felt safe walking the city streets even at night, even as a woman. The food, as in nearby France, is fresh, fatty, not spicy at all. The wine is wonderful, and served with aplomb. IF you are traveling without children there are nightclubs all over Brussels with great live bands. Beware of anyone offering you illegal substances in a bar. Though you may think you are an American on vacation just having fun, the consequences can be dire. You are not covered by our constitution while in a foreign country nor are you covered under theirs' as a foreigner. Break laws at your own peril!

In addition to Brussels you may take the train to more rural areas to view the countryside. See a vineyard, or visit a castle. You will find structures much older than anything in America. The farms are small and charming. You can use an iPhone to find bed and breakfasts or buy a travel guide like "Let's Go Belgium!" for younger folks, or the classic "Frommers" for older travelers.

Where to stay? Youth hostels are a fun way to meet other travelers. They are generally inexpensive and safe. I advise you to keep track of your stuff and not be too much of a show off if you have expensive things because often the sleeping arrangements are communal. Elder hostels are also on the rise, for the same reasons: they're inexpensive and fun. One step up is the bed and breakfast. There's often a common room for guests to meet and chat. If there is not, you can introduce yourself over breakfast. Hotels owned by local owners are more exciting than franchises. If you really must have all the amenities of home, look on the internet for hotels with the 4 or 5 star rating.
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