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When we hear about Belgium our mind immediately goes to a myriad of things: beer in the first place, chocolate pralines, french fries, waffles with icecream and naturally the heart of Europe, the European Parliament. Despite the small size of this country, Belgium has developed over the years a quite unique character which differentiates it from the rest of the world. As a matter of fact, there are more than 800 different types of beers in Belgium. A number that overcomes by far even other large producing countries such as Germany and Czech Republic. A particular kind of beer for example, called Lambic, is original from this country. Unlike most beers, which are fermented making use of pre-selected yeasts, Lambic beers get fermented spontaneously by being exposed to natural wild groups of yeasts and bacteria native of a specific area of Belgium. This beer is characterized at the end by a very peculiar flavour and a sour aftertaste, generally mitigated by the addition of fruit in the form of pulp or syrup.

Belgians claim to have invented the chips as well, also widely known as French fries, at the point that almost every town in Belgium has its own chip shops which are becoming more and more popular all over the continent. It doesn’t have to surprise then that one of the typical national dishes is mussels with fries (moules frites).

 

Another typical delicacy of this region of Europe is certainly the chocolate. Belgium produces alone over 200000 tons of this dark gold every year! That is a massive amount compared to the size of the country. And probably everybody is familiar these days with the typical praline-shaped chocolate we spot sometimes in certain gourmet shops of the high streets. If you were wondering where this shape was firstly used to sell chocolate, here is the answer. Jean Neuhaus II, a famous Belgian chocolatier, introduced this concept in 1912 for the first time.

Millions of tourists visit this friendly country every year. Brussels, the capital, is not the only destination. Also other pretty cities like Ghent, Antwerp, Ypres, Liege, Leuven and Bruges attracts many visitors from all around the world. Belgium is virtually divided in two regions: the Flanders, in the North, speaking mostly Dutch and the Wallonia, in the South, speaking mostly French. In addition to these two big regions, there is Brussels which could be considered bilingual and a little German-speaking community in the East of the country. Most Belgian citizens are anyway able to speak perfectly both languages and sometimes even German as well. Besides, English is widely known and spoken here so don’t feel afraid to interact with locals for any reason and ask information if you need.

Any moment is fine to visit Belgium even if most people suggest going from mid-April to mid-October when many festivals and events are organised in the main cities. Last tip: if you have the chance to visit this wonderful country don’t forget to stop at least one day in Spa. As the name may suggest, this gorgeous town located in a valley in the Ardennes is famous for its numerous natural mineral spring waters and for this reason it gave its name to every spa (therapeutic water treatment centre) in the world. Just what you want to forget your daily stressing routine!

 

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