Having never been to Belgium before, except for a two-day trip as part of a French society tour last year, I really didn’t know what to expect. With my family and friends quietly reminding me that ‘Belgium is the most boring country in Europe’, I was quite concerned about what spending my whole summer there would be like. What I have discovered is that whilst Belgium isn’t often picked as a typical summer holiday destination, my preconceived ideas about the country were frankly wrong.
The richness and multiculturalism of Belgium is something to be celebrated, with so many people from all over Europe calling it their home
Firstly, Belgium is the beating heart of the European Union, home to the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council HQ and even Mini Europe. Now whilst many of us don’t want to think about Brexit, we know that the European Union is (currently) made up of 28 member states. This means that many people represent their home countries in the Belgian capital, Brussels! Just walking around the ‘quartier européen’ is an amazing part of Belgium itself: Greek, Spanish, Dutch and Hungarian are just some of the languages that I heard on a daily basis. The richness and multiculturalism of Belgium is something to be celebrated, with so many people from all over Europe calling it their home.
To describe Belgium as the land of fries and chocolate is wholly accurate
Secondly, hello Belgian food! Whilst you’re digging into your so called ‘French fries’, remember that your favourite snack actually originated in Belgium. You don’t have to walk far to spot a ‘fritierie’ or a ‘frituur’, in which you are given a cone of fries loaded with your favourite sauce – 4 euros well spent in my opinion. Or, if you have more of a sweet tooth, a recommended pastime here in Belgium is wandering aimlessly into chocolate shops to be greeted by a shop assistant with a tray of testers – a top tip of how to continuously treat yourself on a student budget. I’ve passed many of these shops in Brussels alone, so to describe Belgium as the land of fries and chocolate is wholly accurate.
Just walking past the palace is a fairy-tale like experience, surrounded by beautiful cobbled streets and horse-drawn carriages
Finally, one of course cannot forget the historical elements of this country. Belgium is one of only 12 European countries to still have an existing monarchy and, fortunately, the official royal palace is located in the centre of Brussels. Traditionally, the palace opens every summer for a month where tourists can visit free of charge and gain an insight into the life of a Belgian royal. Just walking past the palace is a fairy-tale like experience, surrounded by beautiful cobbled streets and horse-drawn carriages. Furthermore, you could not leave Belgium without exploring the canals which flow through the heart of many of its cities. For under 10 euros, you can be whisked away for half an hour with a tour guide who speaks an envious number of languages and learn about the history of these medieval canals.
So, rather than looking back on my time in Belgium as a dull experience, I am so happy to have had the opportunity to explore the beauty of this country. Whilst I’m not selling Belgium as the sunny capital of Europe, I could not recommend it highly enough as a weekend destination to make all your gastronomical and Instagram dreams come true.