There is a saying that goes “I would rather have a passport full of stamps rather than a house full of stuff.”
Throughout my life I have tried to live up to that ideal as much as I can.
This summer I am living in Brussels, working for the European Banking Federation, which represents national banking associations at the EU-level in discussions with the Commission, Council, and Parliament, as well as other EU institutions and agencies.
Slightly over two months into my summer, I have tried to travel as much as possible, taking advantage of Europe’s low airfares and Belgium’s low train prices.
After returning home to Sweden from the U.S. I have visited Norway, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, the Netherlands, and plenty of cities in Belgium.
For my first blog post (I know, I should have published one earlier!), I decided to provide an overview of two of the many cities I have so far visited in Belgium: Brugge and Namur.
Considering that Belgium is one of the smallest countries in the EU, train travel is quick, cheap, and easy. So far, in addition to the two aforementioned cities, I have visited Mons, Antwerp, Ghent, Louvain-la-Neuve, Oostende, and Aachen, which while being in Germany can be reached using a Belgian rail ticket.
My favorite city by far is Brugge. The “Venice of the North” certainly deserves its title, with its beautiful canals, Grote Markt, and amazing food, it is a highly recommended destination for anyone visiting Belgium.
Especially recommended are the Belgian waffles and fries, which can be found on nearly every street in Brugge.
While Brugge is a quintessential tourist destination for anyone visiting Belgium. Namur is a slightly less-common, though equally deserving, city to visit.
Namur, located about an hour from Brussels, is the capital of Wallonia (more on Belgium’s unique governmental structure next week!). Despite being located near Flanders, a distinction between the Dutch and French speaking parts of Belgium is immediately visible upon arrival.
The architecture is different, the food is different, the layout of the city is different. But this makes the trip all the more rewarding. If you are interested in exploring a large, but less-traveled city, Namur is highly-recommended. I especially recommend visiting the Citadelle.
Belgium is without a doubt a unique European country, both politically and culturally. My aim with these blog posts, which I will now do regularly, is to through my experiences share some of the reasons and background for why it is so unique.