Brussels is an amazing capital city which flies in the face of preconceived ideas, and so much the better. Belgium's premier city may be French-speaking, but also has a strong Flemish and European identity. It is closer than you think and has something to offer all kinds travellers, which is no mean feat! Younger visitors will appreciate the incredibly friendly and welcoming nightlife which you still don't always get in Paris
, whilst those after a more sedate holiday can enjoy browsing in the city's many shops and antique markets. Shopping addicts will undoubtedly be very familiar with the big names in Belgian fashion and their unusual trends, which are popular among those who like to dress alternatively. The city is also popular with food fans, particularly on weekends, when they flock here to enjoy the sugared almonds, sweet sugar waffles and spiced biscuits. Many a curious traveller bound for Bruges
stops off here for a while on the way, to stroll around the Atomium and the Ixelles Ponds, get acquainted with the comic strip frescoes in situ
, or perhaps wax lyrical about the Horta Museum (wouldn't anyone love to have a house like that?!). They will also know where to find the best chips (apparently 'Chez Antoine', in Place Jourdan, the European district of the city) and the best way to enjoy a glass of Lambic at 'A La Mort Subite', which gets mixed reviews, but then you can sample almost 1,000 Belgian beers in the over 1,500 bars and cafes in the city. Art and history enthusiasts will want to keep a clear head in between the odd beverage to admire the Grand-Place, a pedestrianised quadrangle which resounds with the noise of the crowds that flock here (it turns out that cities weren't the quietest of places even before the invention of the automobile!), and whose towering residences, lit up like monuments at night, illustrate so well the crossroads of exchange that Brussels has always represented.
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