Random ideas for ELT people, plus guest blogs & travel notes

Belgium, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

1     Antwerpen, Anvers – ANTWERP!

Antwerp - a lively port, great architecture, bars, music, diamonds - what MORE do you NEED?

Antwerp is quite simply one of the world’s great cities. It has terrific inspiring architecture, it’s the diamond retail capital of the world and it has a fascinating port area with a lively nightlife and music scene. Some of the best bars and restaurants I have ever been to are in Antwerp, including one that sells 300 different bottled beers, all Belgian (see point 2). The dramatic cathedral even has a bar attached to the outside wall – an excellent idea.

The English Teaching Theatre first arrived in Antwerp in the autumn of 1974, and we went back once or twice a year for the next 25 years, so we probably did more shows there than in any other city in the world.

Although it looks a bit bourgeois on the surface, Antwerp is a great party town, with a terrific art and music scene. I don’t know about now, but in the 80s, there seemed to be an endless supply of local bands with a singer who looked like Morrissey and a guitarist who played like Johnny Marr, long before the Smiths burst onto the scene. And all the bands sang in English – of course!

According to folklore, Antwerp got its name because of a mythical giant called Antigoon (I’m not making this up, I promise) who lived near the River Schelde. Anyone crossing the river had to pay a toll. If they refused, he cut off one of their hands and threw it into the river.

Eventually, the giant was slain by a young hero named Brabo, who cut off the giant’s own hand and flung it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen, which basically means ‘Hand-throw’.

2       Beer

Belgian beers usually stick together - safety in numbers

Belgium produces more beer per capita than any other country in the world. There are about 125 breweries producing about 800 different types of beer. If you include special one-off beers, the total rises to more than 8,000. A lot of them are brewed by monks, including one called Duvel, which means ‘devil’. I think that’s quite a funny joke if you’re a monk. Trappist monks produce some of the strongest beer, which probably explains why they never speak.

In the humble opinion of this blogger, Belgian beer is the best in the world.

3       Brugge (Bruges)

Antwerp is my favourite place in Belgium, but Brugge is a very close second. It’s an absolute jewel of a city, with breath-taking architecture wherever you look. It’s only a hop and a skip from Dover, so if you live in England and you haven’t been there, go as soon as you can.

An added advantage is the proximity of Blankenberge, an extremely tacky seaside town, which is the nearest place I’ve ever found in Europe to Blackpool, where I mis-spent a lot of my free time when I was a teenager.

4       Chocolates

Yum...

Belgian chocolates, especially the cream-filled ones, are the best in the world and the really good news is that chocolate shops are happy to sell them to you one at a time. You’d get a quizzical look if you tried asking for a single Belgian chocolate in Harrods!

5       Eddy Wally

I imagine most of you have never heard of Eddy Wally, a 70-something Flemish singer who modestly calls himself ‘The Voice of Europe’. He hails from East Flanders and sings (if that is the right word) in both Flemish and French. His most famous songs are Chérie and Ik spring uit een vliegmachien (I jump out of an aeroplane).

He wears a pink suit and matching cowboy hat, and his kitschy performances are reminiscent of Liberace. He has his own disco-bar, Chérie-Paris Las Vegas, usually referred to as “Eddy Wally’s Texas Bar”.

The reason why I love Eddy Wally is that for 25 years, just the mention of his name in an English Teaching Theatre show brought gales of laughter from generations of Flemish teenagers. For that alone, dank u wel, Eddy!

The photo of Eddy Wally was taken by Bert Heymans. Bert publishes some of his work under a creative commons license. The  link to the license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB This is the link to this photo of Eddy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/heymans/2168050661/

6       Pommes frites med mayonnaise

Flemish fries

Belgians make the best chips (French fries) in the world. At least, that’s what it feels like when you stumble out of a bar onto a cold Antwerp or Brussels street at 1am. You will always find someone selling frites, freshly made and lathered in mayonnaise. Oh, the memories…

And now four more serious reasons why I love Belgium:

7       Cultureel Centrums

I don’t really want to talk about the Flemish-Walloon divide in Belgium, but there is one thing that became glaringly clear to us when we toured the country: the northern Flemish half of the country has spent a lot of money on social amenities. For example. in just about any town or city of a reasonable size, you will find a beautifully-appointed Cultural Centre, with at least one top-class theatre space.  The English Teaching Theatre had some of its most memorable shows in Flemish Cultureel Centrums.

And this is the nice bit. If you didn’t want to do compulsory military service, you could do community service working in your local Cultureel Centrum. Which meant that the bright, helpful backstage staff during our shows were there because they didn’t want to be in the army.

8       Lights on motorways

Every kilometre of every Belgian motorway is lit up, because it’s safer that way. British transport minister, please take note.

9       The Ardennes

Glorious mountain scenery in the Ardennes

Belgium has a reputation for being so flat that, if you stand on two Oxford English Dictionaries, you can see the entire country. Whoever made that gag never visited the Ardennes, where you can find some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in Europe.

And finally the most important reason.

10     The Menin Gate at Ieper (Ypres)

If you know anything about the Great War (1914-1918), you will know that some of the worst carnage of that conflict took place at Ieper and the nearby village of Passchendaele. At the start of the Menin Road, the route out of the Ieper towards the front line of the conflict, there now stands a monument called the Menin Gate (Meenenpoorte).

The memorial opened in 1927, ten years after the third battle of Ieper, the campaign which ended with the capture of Passchendaele by Canadian troops.

Carved into the panels of the Menin Gate are the names of 54,896 officers and men of the commonwealth forces who died in the area between the outbreak of war in 1914 and 15th August 1917 and who have no known graves. The Gate, immense though it is, was not large enough to hold the names of all the missing. The names of a further 34,984 missing soldiers and ancillary staff, those who died between 16th August 1917 and the end of the war, are recorded at Tyne Cot Cemetery on the slopes just below Passchendaele.

The Menin Road (1919) by Paul Nash; Nash survived the trenches at Ypres and became a fierce critic of war

As soon as the Menin Gate was completed, a bugler stood beneath it and played the Last Post. Now, more than 80 years later, every night at 8pm, as many as six buglers STILL play the Last Post. The gate is built over the road and traffic stops when the buglers play. Local people and visitors stand together in silence to remember the victims of that conflict.

Buglers at the Menin Gate

There may be other moving tributes to war dead in other places and if there are, I would love to know about them. Personally, I have never experienced anything to compare with this nightly ritual at Ieper. It makes me want to cry just writing about it.

Famous Belgians

Tintin, created by Belgian genius Hergé (Georges Remi)

Tintin and the Thompson Twins, who inspired the band of the same name

The other canard regularly heard is – “Apart from Hercule Poirot, can you name three famous Belgians?” The ‘joke’ being that Poirot is a fictional detective and .. er… there aren’t any other famous people from that country.

Well, there are LOTS of famous Belgians. Here are a dozen people who were born in Belgium: Audrey Hepburn, Jacques Brel, Eddy Merckx, Adolphe Sax, Georges Remi (Hergé, the creator of Tintin), Liz Claiborne, George Lemaitre, Peter Paul Rubens, Rene Magritte, tennis players Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters and footballer Steed Malbranque.

Rubens lived in the 17th century, so technically he wasn’t a Belgian, as Belgium didn’t exist before 1830. But I’ve included him to represent all the great Flemish artists who lived and worked on the territory that now sits between France, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands.
Audrey Hepburn – impossible to resist putting a picture of her here…

Dear Steed, thanks for the memories...

And finally, if you don’t know who Steed Malbranque is, he’s a footballer who played for Fulham in the early part of this century, by far the best player in our humble team for three or four seasons. And guess what? His parents named him after a character in an English TV show, The Avengers. How perfect that he should end up plying his trade in the English Premier League. If you DO know who Steed is, you’re probably wondering why I included him in a list of Belgians, when he’s actually played international football for France. He was born in Belgium, and grew up in France.

About these ads

Comments on: "Ten reasons why I love Belgium – my tribute to Europe’s most under-rated country." (54)

  1. Wow, really looking forward to this daring post of truth!

    I’ll just say it flat out from the beginning, I was born in Antwerp, but this doesn’t make me biased.

    Sure, Belgium is tiny and has a lot of difficulties and shortcomings. But it also had and has a lot to offer. To tourists and Europe (or the world) alike. And if you do visit it, do me a favor and go beyond Brussels. There are much nicer cities and places to make it worthwhile.

    You of course don’t have to visit, let alone love the almost divided country. But the recent ridiculous attacks in British tabloids on Herman Van Rompuy and the country as a whole is really proof of a misplaced nationalism, not to mention bad journalism and not knowing what you’re talking about. Yes, Telegraph, it’s Herman and not ‘Herbert’ http://bit.ly/cWeVI ; they corrected that mistake rapidly, but just scroll to the comments for proof. Needless to say that the Belgian press had a good laugh!

    For starters, unlike Blair, Herman Van Rompuy never applied for the job. The poor man was just seemed fit for the job by other EU members, and was asked. Believe it or not, if he gets the position, it would leave Belgium with a big government problem to sort out. But its of course a job offer you can’t refuse.

    And all this results in a bashing on Belgium. From a country that still refuses to implement the Euro or the metric system, if I may add. But gladly wants to take on the leadership of a federation it can hardly be called a full member of.

    Belgium may be a tiny country, but it has accomplished much more in recent history than we get credit for. Just to mention three: we are showing the world that splitting up is possible by talking instead of taking up arms and a lot of patience, together with some neighbours Belgium founded the EU, and more recently they delivered the first non-American or non-Russian commander of the ISS.

    Not bad for a tiny country only known for cheap jokes and excellent fries, chocolates and over 1500 beers, no?

    May the best man win.

    Cheers!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks Erlend – you may or may not be pleased to hear that Brussels, even though it’s a city I enjoy visiting, is NOT one of my top ten reasons to love the country. :)

      • Oh, let me say that I would be surprised if it had made it to the top 10 ;-) Unfortunately, for too many tourists Brussels is Belgium.

  2. Vicky Loras said:

    Oh no, not again – the thing I hate the most. Racism and chauvinism and whatever other expression of toxicity against a nation. And in a newspaper! Good thing for pointing it out Ken! Waiting for another interesting blogpost!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thank you, Vicky – on days like today, I realise how much we need people like you with your softly-softly way of teaching people to be multi-cultural in their attitudes.

      • Vicky Loras said:

        Hi again Ken, and thank you very much for your kind words. It is very encouraging when educators work together to point out issues like racism. Coincidentally, a few minutes ago, I found this on a website: http://ca.movies.yahoo.com/feature/movie-talk-couples-retreat-posters.html Maybe you would like to look at it. I found it quite disturbing, even though the film does not interest me as a genre. However, racism finds its way of passing through even what people think of as trivial.
        Thank you very much again Ken!

  3. Hi Ken, thanks. If you haven’t done so already, you must visit Gent http://www.visoog.be/panorama.php?lang=dut&movie=kraanleiboot as well. Or visit the carnival in Binche http://www.panoramas.dk/fullscreen6/f10-carnival-binche.html.

    If you still like Antwerp better, you might as well visit it virtually http://www.vrantwerp.com/category/city-center/grote-markt/.

    Have a nice weekend,

    Bart

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Gent is one of the many places that I love that didn’t get a mention. I also wanted to talk about how Grande Place in Brussel should really be called Grote Markt, as it’s a Flemish City. Great country, and all the actors in the ETT would agree with me.

  4. Wow! Fantastic!
    To tell you the truth, my sister’s mother-in-law was Belgian, so I knew quite a lot, but not THAT much!
    Your blogpost made me think of a lot of things: First of all, I would love to visit Belgium and all the places you mention. Then I thought how sad it is that we do not know all these facts about this wonderful country, and how many other countries are out there that we don’t know about. Or maybe we don’t care, or maybe we don’t have time (even though I think people can make time if they want) to learn about.
    Your blogpost is an answer to those people who laugh at other countries or people of other nationalities, those who say that some languages are ugly, or primitive, or sound bad, or other kinds of nonsense like that.
    Thank you for putting Belgium back on the map for all of us, Ken. The world is there for us to explore and open our eyes and our minds to other cultures and ways of life. It is a good wake-up call to all of us, that there are more countries out there, apart from our own! Thank you Ken!
    Vicky

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Vicky. In fact, most people simply don’t have the opportunity to travel anywhere, so I hope these simple facts about Belgium will give them a BIT of an insight into a fun country.

  5. Nice post Ken. I’m moving to Belgium next year, so this is a nice primer.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Living in Belgium, eh? Where? Antwerp is one of the few cities I can imagine living in, although I’m told Brussels does have hidden charms :)

      • Brussels hidden charms are mostly broken down; both physical and mentally. It is our biggest cancer tumor for now. There are lots of better regions; Ghent, Antwerp, Bruges, Leuven, Namen, Durbuy, Bastogne, Marche-en-Famenne,..

  6. I’d like to do the same for Kazakhstan, but I fear that Borat has done more damage than I could possibly hope to repair in a few lines. Still, time’s on my side, I s’pose…

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Go ahead and repair, Sandy. Kazakhstan is a truly wonderful country and we are exactly the kind of people who should be bolstering its image.

  7. Emma Herrod said:

    I just loved this post. I too love Belgium and have had many a nice holiday there with the ‘rents as a kid.

    Well done on a great piece answering back that newspaper rubbish!
    Emma

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Emma. It stirred a lot of touring memories among the actors of the English Teaching Theatre, but they left them on my Facebook page. Feel free to go see them, too. :P

      • Ken,

        I loved this blog post! So thorough and I’m eager to visit Belgium again. Ran with several Begians throughout my running career and they were always steadfast and warm hearted as can be.

        However, I have to protest about the beer! Czech’s consume more by far, by far…. I’m also partial to Czech beer too :)

        Thank you for tin-tin, Jacques Brel, chocolate and those great bicycle races!

        David

        http://eflclassroom.com

  8. Ken Wilson said:

    David

    you are absolutely right that various nationalities, including the English, claim to be the main consumers of beer (like some kind of war medal!). However, I don’t think there is a nation which produces so many DIFFERENT types of beer as Belgium.

    I will amend the text to reflect this. :)

    Re which beer is best? I haven’t spent enough time actually drinking local beer in the Czech Republic, but I still maintain that Belgium has the greatest variety of beers in terms of strength and taste.

    My favourite, easily available in other countries, is Leffe Blond. When I was travelling with the English Teaching Theatre, my favourite post-show tipples in Belgium depended on where we were doing the show. Duvel, which I mentioned in the article, is a truly amazing strong beer, although you need a short nap if you have more than one in the middle of the day. Chimay is also very memorable.

    I will do my best to improve my knowledge of Czech beer at the earliest opportunity. I think you will agree that to get the best impression of a beer, it has to be consumed in the country where it was produced (eg Guinness in Ireland).

  9. Ken,

    I was just teasing about the beer figures – no need to append. I concur, the Belgians have great beer and as you mention, variety galore. However, for me, the Czech’s have perfected pub culture. It is not only important as you mention to drink the beer in that country — but also, even better if it is in the air of centuries old tradition and something that is filled with cultural importance. I can’t say enough about Czech pub culture. If you ever get to Prague, read some Hrabal and have a fresh pint at the Golden Lion!

    I’d recommend Cesky Budvar by the bottle abroad. But in the Czech Rep. – there is just too much to recommend. My fav. is probably Staropramen. I have fond memories of throwing my jug down to the gypsy kids who’d run to the corner pub and get me fresh “pivo”. Two other great beers, Moravian, are Litovel and Radegast. Full flavoured, just out of this world when fresh.

    I’ll have to try and get a Duvel – but at the moment in S.Korea where it is hard to get any type of good beer (people rave about Japanese Sapporo but it isn’t anything like a “real” beer…).

    Cheers, I’m getting thirsty!

    David

    http://eflclassroom.com

    • Ken Wilson said:

      I think Staropramen must be one of those beers that doesn’t travel that well. My local pub has it on draught, and the bar-staff seem to have been told to push it. But even draught, it doesn’t seem to have any distinguishing taste.

      But, hey, here’s me pretending to be a beer expert. I hardly ever drink beer, even in summer. I’m a red wine aficionado. The thing about the Belgian blog post, is that it brought back so many memories of evenings spent in bars in Antwerp or Brussels after two or three shows. If nothing else, it made me understand why actors drink so much – acting is hard, thirsty work, especially the way we made them work on ETT tours.

      For some reason, the actors who have read the blog preferred to make their comments on my Facebook page, rather than the blog itself. But it’s clear, 20+ years on, their strongest memories about the Belgian tours are the bars they spent their free time in. :)

  10. I too have a soft spot for Belgium, not least because of the beer–Duvel especially was my favorite.

    I first visited with a musical group that I played in, arriving in Europe literally the same day our “fearless leader” GW Bush started dropping bombs in Iraq. Surprisingly, Belgium, Antwerp specifically, was the only place where we got any real anti-American reactions (to our face at least), when we were loading out and a drunk passerby shouted “Go home”, and we were like “Is he talking to us?” , and to make it quite clear that he was talking to us said “You should go home to your country.” What do you do? In our case we just shrugged our shoulders and carried on.

    Other than that, lovely place. Ghent (quite nice), Brugge (a little Magic Kingdom-ish perhaps), everywhere, even the smaller towns were really great. And the fries. Oh the fries…

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Wow! An American band touring ‘old Europe’ when Dubya was annoying the hell out of all of us. Surely there’s a story to be told about that whole tour. Have you written it anywhere?

  11. Hi Ken, thank you for using one of my photographs! It’s great to see so much love for Belgium in the article and in the comment :) If you ever pass near Opwijk in Belgium, come in and have a beer.

    Could you please add a link to my site for the Eddy Wally picture you use in your article, I publish some of my work under a creative commons license, this is the link to the license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB and this is the shot you can link to http://www.flickr.com/photos/heymans/2168050661/

    Thank you!

  12. Philip Kerr said:

    Why so hard on Brussels? Visit Erasmus’s house, go for a walk in the Foret de Soignes in the autumn, live in a city where most of us are foreigners, go to the Couleur Cafe festival, go to the greenhouses of Laeken, sit in awe in Europe’s most spectacular main square … but most of the best things are behind closed doors, sipping a Triple Westmalle or a St Idesbald. Everyone I know who has come here – under the right conditions – has left ruing their earlier words.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Does it come across that I’m hard on Brussels? I just didn’t make it one of the top 10 reasons. Methinks a tad picky, M. Kerr!

  13. I’ve never been to Belgium, but I hear it’s a heck of a place. I know someone from there, and she says it’s BEAUTIFUL. Well, I guess she wasn’t lying!

  14. You forgot the waffles!!! They are the best ones I ever ate. Mmmmmm :)

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Absolutely right! Maybe I should have written TWENTY reasons why I love Belgium :P

  15. Dennis said:

    It’s nice to read something positive about Belgium from a Brit! Usually they only look ‘down’ on us…

    Greetings from Antwerp! :-)

  16. A brilliant article, Ken. Thank you. I visited Gent and Bruges 20-25 years ago, and a return trip is long overdue. I *loved* the country, the people, the food, the drink… Didn’t see Antwerp, unfortunately. All the more reason for returning.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Oh, Colin! Antwerp is a must! Much more diverse than the other two, and a great music scene (unless things have changed). Go check it out and tell me :)

  17. Hello Ken,

    I love cities, Brussels being my favourite in Belgium. Architecture is diverse because of plagiarism laws here, and folks, please look beyond the dirt on the facades :-) , they can’t clean up the whole country in two minutes. The Flemish are introvert, but it would be nice if more than 1/100 of them could use the words “excuse me”. The Dutch make jokes about Belgians being stupid, which they aren’t in any subject except social skills. Talking isn’t their strong point but come on boys and girls, this one little thing will bring you very close to perfection… just for me? Pretty please? ;-)
    M
    met vriendelijk groeten,
    Glasgow Lass

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hi Madge,

      didn’t know about the plagiarism law – I can’t find anything about that online – do you have a link for it? Really interesting. My daughter has just married into a family of architects, so I’d like to show them that.

  18. Peter Travis said:

    Thanks for this Ken. Now very keen to pack the family off on a trip to Belgium at the very first opportunity!
    Pete

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Peter – I hope you’re being serious. :P And Brugge is so NEAR, and easily accessible by train.

  19. hushieeee said:

    im from belgium and im very happy to read those sweet comments about my country x3

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thank you! I’m thinking it’s a long time since I was in Belgium – time to plan a weekend away. :P

  20. Kate Bell said:

    I’m surprised Brussels didn’t make the cut. It’s not as pretty as Antwerp or Bruges, but I think it’s a remarkably international city thanks in large part to the EU and NATO headquarters. Maybe you dislike bureaucrats and that’s understandable. I think the internationalism of Brussels is fascinating though.

  21. Hi all Belgian lovers out there …

    Thanks for all this positive vibes about this small country! Sounds great. How come I missed Leuven in all this? Or did I? Let me know.
    Best,

    Nadine
    YENN
    Leuven

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hi Nadine,

      you’re right, Leuven didn’t make the Top Ten, but there are dozens of things and places I like about Belgium, and I decided to just write about ten.

      I remember Leuven as a fantastic place to do shows with the English Teaching Theatre. In fact, one night we did the first show of a three-week tour there, to some evening class students. For some reason it was way too short and we actually added another sketch for the rest of the tour. We should really have gone back at the end and done the show to the original audience. :P

  22. Hannah said:

    I am Belgian and i live in Leuven. I love Belgium!!

  23. A little mistake in you post: Duvel was never brewed by monks, it has been a familly business since 1871 and only recently its been taken over by De Koninck Brewery. Really good article btw :) And I know I’m a little late with that seeing that your post is from 2009 :)

  24. It’s hard to come by experienced people about this topic, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  25. You should include the uberfantastic vibrant city of Ghent with it’s stunning breath taking festival of lights! Absolute must visit (and live in your lifetime)

  26. My Belgium top 15:

    1) Ghent, his architecture, his tiny, original shops and his humoustic, left-winged people
    2) The relativist, carnivalesque mentality in perhaps the most funny country of the world
    3) Little Flemish cities and their beguinages: Leuven (Louvain), Lier, Turnhout, Kortijk (Courtai), Diest, Aarschot, etc.
    3) The total absurdity of Brussels, in every aspect
    4) The cities and countryside of West-Flanders (except the horrible Belgian coast!): Bruges, Damme, Veurne, Ypres and the touching Flanders Fields
    5) The extremely importance of youth mouvements, student clubs and brass bands
    6) Climbing, walking and visiting beer-abbeys in the beautiful Wallonian Ardennes
    7) The obsession with cycle racing and especially cyclo-cross, as well as the historical places which are related with them, like Oudenaarde and Geraardsbergen (Grammont)
    8) Haspengouw, the region of fruit, sirop and friendly people, around the cities of Sint-Truiden, Tienen, Tongeren (Tongres) and Borgloon.
    9) Cooking with beer, e.g. Flemish beef stewery, tomato-cream soup with shrimps and Rodenbach, etc.
    10) Belfries!
    11) The historical region of Hainaut (Henegouwen), with caracteristic cities like Mons (Bergen), Tournai (Doornik), Binche and Thuin.
    12) Flemish bricks versus Wallonian natural stones, Flemish Primitives verus Wallonian surrealists, Flemish football versus Wallonian basketball
    13) The lambic beers from the Brussels region, with the superb Geuze, Kriek, Framboise and Faro
    14) The legendary urban planning and architectural contrasts
    15) The famous Belgian festival, like Pukkelpop, Rock Werchter, Tomorrowland, Graspop, Couleur Café, Groezrock, Dour Festival, etc.

    Greetings from a proud Belgian!

  27. Hello! I m a Belgian! I left my country 5 years ago to go south. There wasn’t much I missed till I read this topic.
    Bruges and the mediaval history, Flanders Fiels where I grew up and of course: sometimes I would die for the fries at midnight with stoofvleessaus, tartaar and een goed gekruide Brochette.
    All the best!

  28. OK I found this site because I entered “why I love Belgium”. I spent 13 years there, all in Wallonia. Brugge, Gent, the relaxed, not enthusiastic but basically decent Belgian people. Frites, definitely, but also the classy restaurants. The beers – fantastic, brilliant. Walloon cities – Namur, Tournai, Liege – and the Ardennes. The Hautes Fagnes (Hohes Venn if you speak German). The great technology – with one card you could do EVRYTHINg – even get money from a supermarket. I hate to betray my homeland, but after 13 years in Belgium I AM BELGIAN and one day I want to go back there forever.

  29. harry said:

    Living in New- Zealand at the moment and before that i was living in Oz for 2 years and damn, I miss belgium, PROUD BELGIAN!!!!

  30. Hi,

    I agree with all your reasons, we decided to choose Begium for our summer holiday this year (you can just imagine the reaction that got from the more narrow minded countrymen here in England) and based ourselves in La Roche en Ardenne…. what more can I say, such a beautiful town I never did see. The cultural and (importantly for me) gastronomic heritage of Belgium is a delight. If I had to choose anywhere to live it would be the Ardennes, a most enchanting place with the whole of Europe on its doorstep.

  31. Hey,

    I love it that you like our Country. Most of all the people think that Belgium has nothing special. I’m from Aalst. In the Flemish part of Belgium. And we are famous (Well, mostly in Belgium) for our Carnival. This is a compilation of the stoet on Sunday. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7XS_CU3Jpw

    I don’t want to say that you must had put it in your top 10. But I wasn’t sure that you know “Aalst Carnaval”. We stand, just like venice, on the list of UNESCO. I really want to invite you to come over and see the 3 days of Carnival in 2014 ! (Maybe I can learn better English from you, sorry for any mistakes in my text.)

  32. Good to hear from other people who love Belgium. I cycled there recently, through Tournai, Oudenaarde, Gent to Brugge. The town squares and belfries, the friendly people, the terrifying fast cyclists of Gent, Liefmans beer, the Gekke Fietsen Museum… so many reasons to love Belgium. And Antwerp – the fashion museum, the little quiet coffee bars, the beautiful train station, the zoo and the trams. I come from Melbourne, Australia and I can tell you Antwerp felt like home! I can’t wait to go back to Belgium. It’s the places that don’t shout about themselves that are often the best!

  33. Jonathan said:

    First, congragulations for this great article but hahaha pomme frites med mayonnaise. It’s pomme frites avec mayonaise (in french) or Frieten met mayonnaise 😉 And centrums in’t right it’s centra but that’s a detail. Again, it’s a really good ‘review’ of Belgium!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 647 other followers

%d bloggers like this: