16 Reasons You Can’t Totally Hate On Belgium

 
Brussels by night
 
 

We may have lost the soccer match (and the epic match that was identification of waffle varieties), but even still, you can’t totally hate on Belgium.

Why, you ask? They have fries. And just a few other things…

1. There are beaches.

…many beaches. We recommend De Panne, an “endless” strip of colorful huts and umbrellas.

Red and white umbrella at beach

Red and white umbrella at beach

 

2. The International Bathtub Regatta.

This year’s theme is “The 80s.” Prepare your eyes for oodles of funkadelic bathtubs, rafts and water slides — yes, water slides — floating down the Meuse River.

The 15th International Bathtub Regatta takes part on the Meuse river, 15 August 2007, in Dinant southern Belgium. The Bathtub Regatta claims over 250 participants in a flotilla of original vessels made out of at least one bathtub. AFP PHOTO JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

The 15th International Bathtub Regatta takes part on the Meuse river, 15 August 2007, in Dinant southern Belgium. The Bathtub Regatta claims over 250 participants in a flotilla of original vessels made out of at least one bathtub. AFP PHOTO JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

 

3. There is a literal carpet of flowers.

Every two years, the ground in Brussels’ Grand Place transforms into a endless, patterned field of begonias. This year’s “giant floral jigsaw” will be constructed in a matter of mere hours on August 14.

Night exposure of the beautiful Grand Place with the famous Flower Carpet surrounded by ornate buildings. Brussels, Belgium.

Night exposure of the beautiful Grand Place with the famous Flower Carpet surrounded by ornate buildings. Brussels, Belgium.

 

4. The Carnival of Binche is a total hoot.

Where else are you going to see men parading as Incan-inspired clowns in ostrich feathers and clogs? …nowhere, and that’s why The Carnival of Binche is a UNESCO site of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Belgium, Walloon Municipality, province of Hainaut, village of Binche, carnaval of Binche listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, parade of the Gilles de Binche with their wax masks for Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday)

Belgium, Walloon Municipality, province of Hainaut, village of Binche, carnaval of Binche listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, parade of the Gilles de Binche with their wax masks for Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday)

 

5. Street cafes are part of Belgian culture.

The medieval port town of Graslei, in Ghent, is especially charming for a midday snack.

People in street cafes, Graslei, Gent, Flanders, Belgium, Europe

People in street cafes, Graslei, Gent, Flanders, Belgium, Europe

 

6. Mechelen is a history buff’s (and fish lover’s) dream.

Halfway between Brussels and Antwerp, this cutesy little town houses a massive medieval tower at St. Rumbold’s Cathedral. History fans will have a field day in palaces, a brewery-turned-heritage-center and a walloping eight historic churches. Don’t forget to swing by the fish market!

View towards the fish market, Mechelen

View towards the fish market, Mechelen

 

7. Old traditions are alive and well.

Meet “the shrimp fisherman Marius Dujardin and his plough horse Fanny.

Europe, Belgium, North Sea, Western Flanders, Oostduinkerke, Gillis Scottlaan street, the shrimp fisherman Marius Dujardin and his plough horse

Europe, Belgium, North Sea, Western Flanders, Oostduinkerke, Gillis Scottlaan street, the shrimp fisherman Marius Dujardin and his plough horse

 

8. Grand Place is even grander in person.

This twinkling square is bordered by an 1800s stock exchange and Hôtel de Ville, the only building that survived when Louis XIV bombarded Brussels in 1695.

Brussels by night

Brussels by night

 

9. Chicon au gratin.

In this classic Belgian dish, ham and endive drown in sauce and melty cheese. Mmm.

Chicon au gratin

Chicon au gratin

 

10. Waffles.

Belgian, not “Belgium” ones. With deep, deep holes and chunky, chunky sugar, they’re sold on many street corners.

Belgian Waffles from Brussels

Belgian Waffles from Brussels

 

11. Beer.

The “abbey beers,” called dubbels and tripels, were originally brewed by monks. Find your favorite at one of Brussels’ scary-big beer shops.

A selection, out of more than 450 types, of beer is shown in Brussels, Belgium. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

A selection, out of more than 450 types, of beer is shown in Brussels, Belgium. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

 

12. Fries.

Okay yes, we love Belgium mostly for its food and drink. Can you blame us?

French Fries with mayonnaise and ketchup

French Fries with mayonnaise and ketchup

 

13. Bruges.

It’s like a dollhouse, but for people.

Bruges

Bruges

 

14. The chocolate museum has TOO MANY samples.

Kindly folk at the Museum of Cocoa & Chocolate will demonstrate how to make Belgian pralines, those authentic morsels of chocolate and fondant. Then, you’ll taste. Lots.

The chocolate museum

The chocolate museum

 

15. Cirque Royal is an utterly delightful concert venue.

The “converted indoor circus” now hosts dance, operetta and musical acts like Irish legend Sinead O’Connor.

Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O'Connor performs during a concert at the Koninklijk Circus - Cirque Royal, in Brussels on April 12, 2012. (Photo: CHRISTOPHE KETELS/AFP/Getty Images)

Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor performs during a concert at the Koninklijk Circus – Cirque Royal, in Brussels on April 12, 2012. (Photo: CHRISTOPHE KETELS/AFP/Getty Images)

 

16. Fairytales probably take place in these forests.

The Hallerbos blossoms with bluebells every spring. It teems with squirrels, buzzards and tadpoles, and there’s even a forest museum. Scratch that, we think this WHOLE COUNTRY is one big fairy tale.

Sunlight through forest, blue flowers

Sunlight through forest, blue flowers


Original article by Suzy Strutner on The Huffington Post