Friday, August 19, 2011

BELGIUM

(does not include Antwerp or Brussels)

ARDENNES
Bastogne
Sights & Sites
Bastogne War Museum – 5 Colline du Mardasson; 011-32-061-210-220; bastognewarmuseum.be; housed in new building; puts into context WWII causes, events & consequences, particularly Battle of Bulge.
Mardasson Memorial – Colline du Mardasson; bastognewarmuseum.be/uk-bastogne-war-museum.html; tribute from Belgian population to American nation; Bastogne chosen as site because American effort so decisive here; on July 4, 1946, in what was to become Memorial’s central point, some earth removed & placed in casket, which was then sealed in US Ambassador’s presence and sent by special plane to Washington; Belgian delegation, led by Minister of Defense, handed casket to US President Harry Truman; above Memorial’s central point stone bearing following inscription placed: Liberatoribus Americanis Populus Belgicus Memor. 4. VII. MCMXLVI (Belgian people remember their American liberators – 4th July 1946); monument unveiled on July 16, 1950; Memorial shaped as star of freedom.



BELOEIL
Sights & Sites
Archéosite d’Aubechies – 1 Rue de l’Abbaye; 011-32-069-671-116; archeosite.be; after years excavating land in Aubechies & surrounding area, archaeologists have reconstructed various dwellings, from early Neolithic to Gauls; 6 wattle & daub houses, with furnishings & utensils; beyond Aubechies church (late 11th-early 12th Century), Roman House, built according to plan of 2nd Century villa, contains finds unearthed during Gallo-Roman site dig.



BRUGES
Bars & Nightclubs
’t Brugs Beertje – 5 Kemelstraat; 011-32-050-339-616; brugsbeertje.be; beer mecca; offers more than 300 Belgian beers; name means “Bruges Bear.”
De Dolle Brouwers – 12/B Roeselarestraat; 011-32-051-502-781; dedollebrouwers.be; brewery that offers tastings and tours.

Hotels
Calis – 10 Hoogstraat; 011-32-050-613-181; calisbruges.be; stylish bed and breakfast.
Grand Hotel Casselbergh – 6 Hoogstraat; 011-32-050-446-500; grandhotelcasselbergh.com; 118 stylish rooms and modern facade.
Hotel de Orangerie – 10 Kartuizerinnenstraat; 011-32-050-341-649; hotelorangerie.be; 20 cozy, romantic rooms with antiques and canal views.

Restaurants
Calis – 10 Hoogstraat; 011-32-050-613-181; calisbruges.be; stylish restaurant – among best in Belgium.
Chez Vincent – 1 Sint Salvatorkerhof; 011-32-050-684-395; chezvincent.eu; for Belgian fries and side salad.
Hertog – 479 Torhoutse Steenweg; 011-32-050-673-446; hertog-jan.com; elegant little restaurant with 3 Michelin stars.
Tete Pressee – 100 Koningin Astridlaan; 011-32-0470-212-627; tetepressee.be; although away from tourist city center, worth special trip for lunch; menu only in Dutch.

Shopping
BbyB – 39 Sint Amandsstraat; 011-32-050-705-760; bbyb.be; bespoke chocolates; try #s 15 (babelutte (caramel-like substance), hazelnut, and milk chocolate) and/or 50 (lemon, dark chocolate, and tonka beans).
Chocolate Line – 19 Simon Stevin Square; 011-32-050-341-090; thechocolateline.be; Dominique Persoone’s shop; flavors include cauliflower and tequila.
L’Heroine – 32 Noordzandstraat; 011-32-050-335-657; lheroine.be; women’s fashion; country’s most progressive designers.

Services
Adventure Bike Rentals – 4 Hallestraat; 011-32-050-338-027; adventure-bike-renting.be; pedal along wide canal that circles city; 30 minute ride through green parks, over wooden bridges, past city’s 4 remaining windmills; take detour through Begijnhof, quiet courtyard ringed with whitewashed cottages, where nuns reside.

Sights & Sites
Markt Belfry – 7 Markt; 011-32-050-448-686; museabrugge.be; 366 steps to top but worth view.
Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) – Mariastraat; 011-32-050-345-314; onthaalkerk-brugge.be; dates mainly from 13th-15th Centuries; 2nd tallest brickwork tower in world (tallest being St. Martin’s Church in Landshut, Germany); in choir space behind high altar are tombs of Charles “Bold” (last Valois Burgundy Duke), and his daughter, Duchess Mary; gilded bronze effigies of both father and daughter repose at full length on polished black stone slabs; both are crowned, and Charles represented in full armor and wearing Golden Fleece Order decoration; large chapel’ altar in southern aisle enshrines church’s most celebrated art treasure, Madonna and Child sculpture by Michelangelo (1504); twice recovered after being looted (French revolutionaries in 1794 & Nazis in 1944).
Dijver Canal – snakes through town; make sure to end walk at Markt, main square dominated by 13th Century belfry.
Groeninge Museum – 12 Dijver (over canal from Sint-Jan Hospitaal Museum); 011-32-050-448-751; museabrugge.be; Jan Van Eyck’s Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele.
Markt – main square dominated by 13th Century belfry.
Old Saint John’s Hospital (Sint-Janshospitaal) – 38 Mariastraat; 011-32-050-448-711; museabrugge.be or visitbruges.be/en/sint-janshospitaal-saint-johns-hospital; for Flemish Primitive artworks; in particular, 6 works by Hans Memling adorn small chapel.
Sint-Salvator Cathedral – Zuidzandstraat; 011-32-050-866-188; sintsalvator.be.
Sound Factory – 34 ’t Zand; 011-32-070-223-302; sound-factory.be; interactive museum in concert hall.
’t Zand Square – good place to start day with catch-as-catch-can breakfast from vendors; try walking from here to Beursplein produce market.



GHENT
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
De Superette – 29 Guldenspoorstraat; 011-32-09-278-0808; indewulf.be/desuperette; bread.



NOIREFONTAINE
Hotels
Auberge du Moulin Hideux – 1 Route du Moulin Hideux (in Semois Valley); 011-32-061-467-015; moulinhideux.be/en; in 1960, this magnificent 17th Century mill became 1st Relais & Châteaux member outside France; has been handed down from generation to generation of Lahire family; long walks in forest, heated pool, crackling log fire, shady garden next to babbling brook; excellent food.



TOURPES
Shopping
Brasserie DuPont – 5 Rue Basse; 011-32-069-671-066; brasserie-dupont.com; tucked along country road, 40 miles outside Brussels; produces some of country’s finest beer and, in store next door, sells fine bread, cheese, quiche, and tarts.



VLETEREN (includes Westvleteren)
Sights & Sites
Westvleteren Abbey – 12 Donkerstraat (Westvleteren); 011-32-070-210-045; sintsixtus.be/eng; St. Sixtus Trappist Abbey; considered brewer of best beer in world, Westvleteren 12.



WATOU
Hotels
Brouwershuis – 23A Trappistenweg; 011-32-057-388-860; brouwershuis.com; bed and breakfast owned by St. Bernardus brewery.

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