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Belgium Home Exchange



Plan a beautiful holiday in Belgium with International
Vacation Home Exchange 

Photo source: flickr, Eddy Van 3000
When the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) went looking for a place to base their main institutions, Belgium was a natural choice. It stands at a historical crossroads of Europe, it has managed to be a peaceful, harmonious place despite linguistic and cultural diversity, and it represents the best of old and new Europe.
Belgians speak Dutch in the north and French in the South. Brussels, the capital, is officially bi-lingual but French is more common even though Brussels lies in the Dutch-speaking region. And Belgians along the eastern border with Germany speak, you guessed it, German.

For the visitor, Belgium is all about sociable people regardless of their mother tongue, plus waffles, chocolates, Brussels sprouts, diamonds, flowers, lace, beer, impressive architecture and art works of the Flemish masters.

BRUSSELS/BRUXELLES
There are about 1 million people living in 19 distinctive neighborhoods in the metro area of Brussels (Bruxelles). The most important tourist destination is the central square known as the Grand Place in the city’s Old Town. It is surrounded by splendid Gothic, Baroque and Louis XIV style buildings, notably the Guildhalls, the Town Hall and the Breadhouse. The Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Summer is festival time in Brussels/Bruxelles. One of the most spectacular events is the Brussels Flower Carpet that happens every two years. Almost 20,000 square feet of the Grand Place Main Square is covered in flowers laid out in intricate designs that took months to plan. With hundreds of volunteers, the construction process takes less than a day. The result is a stunning display of brightly colored flowers, mostly begonias, depicting a theme. This is the year for the Flower Carpet. Don’t miss it. The viewing is free -- August 14-17.

Linked in with the Flower Carpet is the Brussels Summer Festival – August 8-17. It is the most important cultural event in the city and features musical performances at three venues – Place des Palais, Place du Musee, and Monts des Arts. There is something for every musical taste – classical, rock, world music, jazz, electro, hip hop, folk, reggae, and others. For ticket information and performance schedules, click www.bsf.be/en

Your International Vacation Home Exchange apartment in Brussels is chic, contemporary and convenient. It is located in the very center of the city exactly between Old Town and the ultra-modern European Quarter. The market square is a 20-minute walk away. The city’s
efficient metro has a station less than a hundred yards from the apartment entrance, giving you access to many of the city’s 80 museums, beautiful parks, trendy restaurants and lively bars. The metro can also take you to the main railroad station for connections to the rest of Belgium and all of Europe.


Property # 0194 -- Two bedroom high rise apartment in the heart of Brussels

GHENT

Your other IVHE choice in Belgium lies 35 miles away in Ghent, the fourth largest city in the country and, some say, the most beautiful. The city center boasts the largest pedestrian-only area in Belgium. Peacefully strolling through here gives you a the feeling of being in a museum of early Flemish architecture




Property # 0776: Four bedroom apartment in the Ghent city center

An interesting highlight in the city center is the Saint Bavo Cathedral with the Ghent Altarpiece, considered to be one of Northern Europe art’s masterpieces and one of the world’s treasures.
Also awe inspiring is the Castle of the Counts (Gravensteen Castle). It was first built in 1180, abandoned in the 14th Century, and renovated and restored in the late 19th. Visitors today can travel through it and climb on top. It is still partly surrounded by a moat. Various torture devices, and a guillotine, (historically used in Ghent) are displayed in a museum in the Castle.
Photo Source: flickr, Jennifer Mei
Citadelpark is the main park in central Ghent. In addition to lovely flower beds and exotic trees, the park also feature a music kiosk, an open air theater, statues, a convention center, a velodrome, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Flemish Art (Southern Netherlands) is the main focus with paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens, and many other masters
    
Ghent has many fine restaurants, cafes, bars, bakeries and confectionerys, but an interesting note – it also has the world's largest number of vegetarian restaurants per capital. Official promotion of meatless meals at least once a week began as a campaign to instill healthier eating habits and reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by meat production. It caught on, and vegetarian eating options sprung up all over town.
Your house in Ghent has high ceilings and a charming apartment feel. Originally built around 1908, it was completely refurbished and updated a few years ago. It is located on the street where former Prime Minister Wilfriend Martens had his private home when he was of member of the Beglium Parliament (1985-1996). You can walk to the many shops and services nearby. Old Town is about 10 minutes away. Or take a convenient tram. It makes a stop on the block and gives you public transporation access to just about anywhere in the city.

Find out more about these two wonderful home exchange places in Belgium by clicking the property numbers above. If you are not a member of the International Vacation Home Exchange – and you own a second home or vacation rental property – joining IVHE can put your property to use in ways that will give you a world of personal vacation options. Click www.ivhe.com for details.

Blogsmith: Mike DiPrima

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