Belgium is a country that is located right between two massive tourist hubs: Paris of France and Berlin of Germany. For this particular reason, it is not as packed as the aforementioned two and it is far more racket-free. If you do not particularly enjoy the tumultuous tourist-seasons in Europe, Belgium is the best possible place that you can visit. So, here are the top five things to know before going there!
Here’s a thing about stereotypes: they are often wrong or only half-true. While Germany is considered the leading beer-consumer of the world, you have not seen Belgium. Yes, Germany has a lot more people living within its bounds (which would account for the heftier consumption) but Belgium has a beer-culture like no other country. Each and every brand that is worth sliding down your throat has its uniquely-fashioned bottle and they come in all shapes and sizes. The vast plethora of tastes cannot be left in the background either for you shall rarely imbibe two brands that taste the same. The local producers take quality extremely seriously and bars take pride in serving the world-famous “Belgian Beers”. Oh, and some of these fine beverages are quite strong, so you might want to dial your urge down a notch, if you do not want to be singing the Belgian anthem… loudly… at 3am in the morning… in a cop car… shackled (triple wink). Alright, jokes aside, by all means, indulge, for you are there to have fun – just make it home in one piece!
And here’s another globally-circulating fact: that the weather in the United Kingdom is so bad that it can get downright depressing. While it is true that Britain experiences a great deal of rainfall, Belgium is not far behind in those terms either. In two meagre hours, one can experience inspiring sunshine, torrential rain, and instant gales. Packing an umbrella prior to hitting the road towards Belgium is as compulsory as those wind-blockers. If you do not want to be running into the first shop selling thicker clothes or rain-protection, just save yourself the trouble and pack intelligently. Have you heard the expression “April weather”? Well, that is how things roll in Belgium (wink).
You know, it is no wonder that Belgium is considered the heart of the European Union (and no, we are not talking about all the political aspects). Why? Well simply because it is a melting pot of cultures, religions, traditions and customs. Whenever you are trying to express how multi-coloured the world is in the aforementioned terms, you are inadvertently talking about how Belgium handles things on a daily basis. People coexist in harmony and there is no racial turmoil. Also, it is quite important that you speak French because the locals love it when you address them in their mother tongue. But we cannot go any further without contradicting ourselves, of course, for you will rarely meet anyone in Belgium who doesn’t speak English. French is advised but English will do just fine (wink).
Do you want to be polite? We thought so! Well, here is a stress-alleviating fact for you: tipping in Belgium is not obligatory if one does not feel that one’s budget can handle it. Tips of 10-15% are generally applied to bills from the get-go, so you are not “forced” by simple tradition to go out of your way and try to please those who serve you. If you feel that the service was exceptional, though, you can leave tips as large as you want because they will be accepted (rounding up with a few Euros hasn’t killed anyone before). The service that you get is by no means influenced by the size or the existence of your tip. Do what your heart tells you and all will be well!
5. Personal space:
Before we get into the bulk of what we are about to say, know that the Belgian people are by no means cold or unfriendly. For this particular reason, personal space for them is usually shared space. What this means is that when they greet each other, they will often peck each other on the cheek and hand out hugs. While this may be the case in your country as well, there are countless cultures where such a thing is not practiced. There are innumerable tourists who are outright startled by this thing. But we assure you that there is no need to stare or to repel these advances because they are as friendly as they can possibly be. Oh, and Belgians usually love tourists, so don’t be afraid to approach them!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Belgium and how have you managed to connect with the locals? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to glance back at FreeMiniMaps.com whenever you have the time! Safe travels!