10 Things I Love About Belgium

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– I only have to drive eighty miles to be in a foreign country with a distinct foreign feel.

– Belgians enjoy design and have lots of lovely interior decorating stores at affordable prices – there are also some expensive ones if you’d rather spend a lot of money.

– Petrol is cheaper than in France.

– The royal family is a stable feature of the country. They are rather subdued people who shun scandals and sometimes make me regret that we beheaded our monarchs two centuries ago.

– We use the same currency. Apparently some people are dissatisfied with the European currency and tend to blame all our evils on the Euro. They don’t seem to realize that it would make more sense to blame those who took advantage of the switch from a national currency to a new one to increase prices rather than take it on the currency. Besides they fail to see that it has made traveling within the Euro-zone much easier and cheaper too.

– You can use your phone to pay for a bus fare or a parking space.

– I simply love the architecture. Belgium has some beautiful cities and towns with magnificent town halls and beautiful crow-stepped gable or Dutch gable houses. It is also one of these Northern European countries which has managed to turn brick-building into art.

– The Belgians make nice beers and serve them cold rather than lukewarm like our friends over the Channel.

– The average Belgian is bilingual. Maybe I need to qualify this statement. Flemish Belgians are trilingual: they speak Flemish (their own version of Dutch), French and English. Walloons speak French. Indeed, like their French cousins, they take pride in not remembering foreign words and structures and whenever by chance their brains have registered some they make sure never to use them, especialy with foreigners.

– In the Flemish part of Belgium, you feel very clever as you understand the language, even if you have never learnt it. Here are a few examples so that you can feel smart too: koffie, thee, melk, jam, zalm, brood, zwembad, markt, haven, stadhuis, kanaal, parkeerplaats. The only problem is that when the people pronounce the words, it is virtually impossible to understand them; which is fine since they speak French and English anyway.

Belgian recipe: Beef Stew