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Belgium

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					Travel Tips to European Countries: Belgium

About the Country

Belgium is situated in the west of Europe. The land here mostly comprises
of flat coastal plains in the northeast, and southeast is occupied by the
Ardennes Forest. Dutch, Flemish, French and German are the official
languages of Belgium, with Dutch being the widely spoken followed by
French. The weather here is pretty predictable. Months from April to
September are the warmest. Otherwise the weather is pretty humid and
skies are gray, that explains why umbrellas and raincoats are a part of
the dressing. So, if the visit is planned for holidays during the rainy
season, one must not forget to carry sufficient cover for maximum
protection, as this is a coastal region. In case of emergency call 100 or
112.

Culture

Belgians are English-friendly and will make every attempt to speak in
English with a foreigner. Always remember to carry a small gift or at
least flowers especially when invited over dinner. The dress to wear will
be mentioned in the invitation, when invited for a party. Smoking in
public is acceptable.

Shopping

Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ostend, Namur, Mons, Liège, Ghent and Mechelen
are the main shopping centers. Belgium is famous for ceramics and hand-
beaten copperware from Dinant, laces from Bruges, crystals from Val Saint
Lambert, woodcarvings from Spa and Belgium’s finest chocolates. In
jewelry, diamonds from Antwerp are on high demand.

Eating Out

The specialty of most of the restaurants is horse and rabbit meat dishes.
Although visitors can find a wide range of ethnic foods, but the most
famous are frites and mayonnaise and mitraillette; mitraillette is a
large bun filled with fries, donair meat and garlic sauce, the
vegetarians can ask for a veg. substitute for the donair meat. While
eating at a restaurant, tipping is considered customary along with the
value-added tax. At the cinemas, leave a €0.50 tip for the attendant and
€0.25 after using the public toilets.

Electricity

Voltage is 230 V and frequency is 50 Hz.

Travel

Delta Air Transport has inaugurated its new European airline SN Brussels
Airlines recently. It flies to more than 58 destinations in Europe and as
well as worldwide. The Brussels Zayentem airport is twelve km from the
city and it takes 35 minutes to reach the city from the airport. The
airport has facilities like duty free shops, car parking, taxi booking,
car hiring, banks, post office, restaurants, and medical help. Internet
and fax services are provided for the passengers. The Airport City
Express train transports passengers to three main railway stations -
Brussels North, Central and South. One can avail a bus which runs
regularly from the airport, taxis can also be hired which wait outside
the arrival hall. Tipping the taxi drivers is considered customary. Train
runs every 15 minutes.

Another airport, Brussels South Charleroi, is 5 km away from Charleroi
and 46 km from Brussels. Ryan air serves as the local airline here and
has cheap deals for several European destinations to and from Charleroi.
The facilities provided here are bus and train services, café, car hire,
and duty free shops.

Ostend airport is 5 km away from the city and car parking, car hire, duty
free shops, and restaurants are provided here.

Antwerp airport is just 2 km away from the city. Buses run to the
Brussels Central Station every few minutes.

Liege is situated at a distance of 5 km away from the city. Buses run at
regular interval here.

The departure tax at Brussels Zayentem is €20.93, Brussels South
Charleroi is €3.49, Ostend and Antwerp is €10, and at Liege is €7.

There is a network of high-speed trains, which are operated by Thalys,
from Belgium to France, connecting Brussels with other destinations like
Bordeaux, Chambéry, Cannes, Marseille, Lyon, Nice, Valence Perpignan, and
Rennes. Booking should be made in advance for these trains. The national
railway operates through out the day providing service every few minutes
to destinations such as Andorra, Austria, France, Czech, Germany, Italy,
Poland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the UK and the Netherlands. Insiders can
avail the Inter-Rail pass which allows visitors to travel almost 29
European Countries. This service is valid for residents who have been
settled there for more than 6 months.

Duty Free Items

Visitors can carry alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes, coffee and tea without
getting customs duty levied on them, but only the goods should be
limited. Check out for the limits before carrying such goods. Food items
that are not preserved are better avoided.

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