Belgium, a small and diverse nation
March 13, 2017
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Belgium is a city best known for chocolate, waffles, fries and beer.
A friend I made in Spain found cheap flights to Brussels and invited me to go.
I had no expectations, but going to Belgium was a great decision.
THE FOOD: AMAZING
The food in Belgium was ridiculously tasty.
The hype is real about their chocolate, waffles and fries.
I will never feel the same way about fries or waffles than the way I did in that country.
What makes the fries taste different is that some places fry them in meat.
And the waffle mix is caramelized to make it taste sweet even when eating the waffle without chocolate.
Sociology senior Mayra Preciado said she didn’t taste any bad food in Belgium.
Jessica Haro, a Spanish senior, said she also liked the food.
“The waffles were lovely,” Haro said. “And the tomato soup. I am not a soup person but that one was really good.”
THE PRICE: CHEAP
Compared to other cities like London, Rome, Paris or Spain, Brussels was reasonably priced.
I was there for three days and barely spent any money considering how much I bought.
The hostel was the nicest one I have stayed at to date.
Belgium is one of the smallest countries in the European Union, making it easy to travel within the country for a relatively low cost.
A train ride to Bruge was only 15 euros round-trip which is the equivalent to about $20.
Because the country is small it is easy to see multiple cities in a short time.
I recommend going to Belgium as a stop on the way to another country because flights in and out of Belgium are fairly low cost.
THE PEOPLE: DIVERSE
Despite being small, the country of Belgium is very diverse. In different parts of the country people speak regional dialects.
The northwestern part of the country mainly speaks Dutch because it is close to the Netherlands.
The Northeast speaks German because it borders Germany and the southern region speaks French because it borders France.
It was interesting being in a country that didn’t have one set language.
“Belgium seemed like a place for a lot of different people,” Preciado said. “You can find a lot of different people, like our tour guide was born in America and raised in Greece and is now a tour guide in Brussels.
I could hear different types of people all over the bars, not like what I’ve seen in Spain and Scotland.”
Something noticeable and unexpected was the large Middle Eastern and refugee population present in Brussels.
After talking to locals it made sense why so many refugees came to Belgium.
It is relatively cheap, has historically kept peace with seveal countries and is also in the middle of Europe.
POST TERRORIST ATTACK: HEALING
On our last day in Belgium, my friends and I went on a tour of Brussels.
At one point of the tour we visited the Bourse de Bruxells (Brussels Stock Exchange), which is now an empty building.
Our tour guide, Dora, said it is now mainly used as a meeting spot for people because it is in the center of Brussels.
She said the day after the three coordinated terrorist attacks, which occurred in the form of suicide bombings on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 in the Belgian Airport, people came to that building and wrote positive and healing messages on the wall with chalk.
To this day, the building is used as a sanctuary and peace symbol for the city.
Dora said she remembered the terrorist attacks and how poorly the Belgian government handled it.
“They didn’t tell us anything,” she said. “We found out what was happening through European and American news outlets.”
As a tour guide, Dora said she noticed a drastic decline in tourism after the attack.
“Other countries no longer advertised Belgium,” she said. “Belgium is a beautiful, diverse country and it’s sad to see that no one wants to come.”
After the tour ended, Dora continuously thanked us for choosing to visit Belgium in spite of it no longer being a popular tourist destination.
Haro said she recommends visiting Belgium.
“It’s a really nice country with a lot of history,” she said.
Preciado said she also recommends Belgium.
“Especially since it has such a bad reputation right now with the attack that happened being so recent,” she said. “The people are nice, there’s a lot to see and chocolate there is worth a trip on its own.”