10 things I love about Belgium
Rachel Maclean studies French and German Interpretation and Translation at Heriot Watt University. She spent the second semester of her year abroad in Mons, Belgium. These are 10 reasons why she loved it!
1. The architecture
The inner ‘Grande Place’ of the towns/cities are absolutely amazing. Here’s a photo of the city square of Mons. Walking past this everyday made going to uni 10 times better…
What an odd thing to say (I know) but despite the frequent last minute platform changes (sometimes even two) including manic running in a squad of people, the price of a single ANYWHERE in Belgium is €6.
Belgium is relatively small so any day trips to cities I went only took a maximum of 2 and a half hours. A single ticket for under 25s is only €6 and you can go anywhere in the country…how amazing! Sadly the same can’t be said for Scotrail!
3. Hot Chocolate
Belgium wins again! I don’t think I can have a hot chocolate back over here in Scotland. You have no idea how good they are. Literally melted chocolate and milk (I suppose I could try make it myself…).
What a beautiful place! When we went to Brugge we accidentally stumbled across a Carnival (what a laugh) but seriously, visit Brugge. You wont regret it!
The picture below was from a Waffle café in Brussels. My friend Gail and I went out for what I would call a typical Belgian breakfast (my Belgian friends would probably say something different) but anytime is a good time for chocolate waffles really! My favourite waffle is ‘Gaufre du chocolat’ where there is chocolate in the waffle… melted chocolate in a waffle. Nothing beats it.
The awkward moment when the guy at the waffle stand asks if you have been to the waffle stand before or if this is your first/second time though… Here is a picture of my friend Lucy (who is studying International Business Management in Antwerp) and I enjoying our ‘Gaufre du Chocolat’ in Liege.
So please, do yourself a favour and have a Belgian chocolate waffle…you wont regret it!
6. The Chocolate Shops in Brussels
Are we spotting a running theme of chocolate here? I think soo……but hey can’t be helped it is BELGIUM after all. If I wasn’t a chocoholic before Belgium then I certainly am one now (forever a chocoholic soooo….).
The chocolate shops are something else - even better when you get samples. You don’t even need to buy a wee chocolate for yourself from the shop. Just dodge in and out of the shops accepting the samples. Pourquoi pas?
7. Belgian frîtes
The famous Belgian frîtes. I asked for a small and I got this - a bouquet of frîtes - and no, I did not eat them all!
Great shops and lots to do! I went to Brussels several times. When my friend Hannah visited me we went to Brussels for the weekend. We stayed in the Alma Grand Place Hotel – perfect location! We took the City Sightseeing bus around Brussels and tried to do as much as we could there in 2 days.
My favourite stop of the tour bus was the European Parliament. We went to the Parlamentarium (visitor centre) for free and we got a good insight into life at the European Parliament. Everyone gets a hand-held audio tour-guide (us being French students, we listened in French of course ;) and its quite interactive there too. It was really interesting and I am not the museum type but it even managed to get my attention which is something! It’s an inspiring place to visit, especially because I'm studying interpretation and translation. I can dream - career goals to interpret there... hahah we will see!
9. The people
I would like to take this moment to thank the people of Belgium who helped me with my many bags in the manic rush (last minute change of platform..standard platform) down the 30 stairs down and up to the next platform whilst changing trains. Travelling with 2 suitcases plus a hiking bag cross-country alone is something I would not wish on anyone - or, in other words, pack light!
This was all my luggage for my year abroad. It was a joint effort of the people of Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium to move me from placement number 1 in Saarbrücken to placement number 2 in Mons, Belgium… so thank you to all who took pity me on me struggling! A journey with that many bags is something I’m glad I don’t have to repeat.
Top tip: Use Send my Bag & get your bags shipped back home at the end of your year abroad. But, if I managed to move myself with so much luggage then anything is possible!
10. The motto
I’m finishing this ’10 things I love about Belgium’ with: You are what you eat...donc je suis une gaufre du chocolat.
Mange beaucoup du chocolat à Belgique! Merci bien!