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The Heart of Europe Still Beats: Brussels

Located in the heart of Europe, is the capital city of Belgium. Brussels is known for its beer, waffles (it is Belgium after all), cartoons, chocolate, flea markets, and the spectacular architecture that embraces the city. The city is also home to the European Union. In the middle of Brussels, is the famous Cinquantenaire (I am not going to even try to pronounce it). The Cinquantenaire is a huge park that is home to several museums. You can’t miss it since the main road into the city passes through it. And like many cities in Europe, Brussels is full of history, treasures, and adventure.

Right now, the city is known for all the wrong reasons; reasons that I cannot fully understand and will one day have to try and explain to my young son. Terrorists recently targeted the city, killing several people and again bringing fear to the entire world. This comes just months after the terrorist attacks in Paris. When I wrote about Paris following the attacks there, I refused to discuss what the terrorists did in detail. I stand by that in this post as well. I refuse to give terrorism a voice. Sometimes words are simply meant to be louder than actions.

With that said, let’s talk about Brussels and why you should visit the city if you haven’t already. First, there is this International Vacation Home Exchange property located in the heart of the city. So you can check lodging off your list as you plan your trip. Now let’s talk about food. Don’t plan on going on a diet anytime soon if you want to visit the city. Brussels is a culinary candy store complete with waffles, stew, Belgian fries, and chocolate. So really, this will be a vacation for your senses as well (taste and smell). I am getting hungry just writing this post.

When planning your trip, be sure to look at the calendar of events in the city. Brussels hosts a number of festivals throughout the year including the Brussels Animation Film Festival, Brussels Jazz Marathon, and the Brussels Festival of Arts. One of the most popular festivals is arguably the Winter Wonders Festival. You can catch this during the holidays and the festival features everything from lights, music, to ice skating.

While you are checking out a festival, be sure to step back and absorb the beauty of the buildings that will surround you. There are guided and self-guided tours of the hidden architectural treasures throughout the city. During your tour you can also check out Mini-Europe. Yes, Mini-Europe. It is a park that showcases Europe using miniature models – 350 models to be exact. You will begin your journey at Big Ben and then wonder through Italy, France, Germany, and Spain in just a matter of hours. 

This is truly a magical city and hopefully you will add it to your travel bucket list. A senseless act can’t stop Europe’s heart from beating. I hope it won’t stop you from visiting the city and opening your arms to those who will be waiting to greet you. If you have questions about the city, be sure to contact an International Vacation Home Exchange coordinator. And as always, safe travels!

Thank you to guest travel writer Carla Pruitt. You can follow Carla on Twitter at @crobscarla. 


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