Belgium: A European Crossroads

Belgium: A European Crossroads

Bordered by France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, with the British Isles a short jaunt by ferry across the English Channel, and with the current headquarters of the European Union inside its borders, the small country of Belgium serves as a hub for much of Europe. Rail lines from France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and even the United Kingdom cross through the Belgium capital of Brussels, which also serves as a major center for air travel for people flying into and throughout Europe. But even in the midst of this metropolitan knot, Belgium has its own distinct flavor, known for its chocolate, beer, and the woefully misnamed French fries, a Belgian invention.   Getting into Belgium   Belgium is a member of the European Union and part of the Schengen Agreement, which allows member nations to travel across borders without the need for a visa. For Americans coming to vacation in Belgium, you only need a passport that’s valid for three months beyond your stay. This allows you to stay in Belgium for up to 90 days.   Additional entry requirements include a plane ticket for your return destination and enough money to enjoy your stay, although minimum cash on hand requirements are not explicitly stated. You can enter Belgium with up to €10,000 without having to declare it.   Belgium does not have any required vaccinations, but you should be up to date on the standard vaccinations, which include the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), chicken pox, and polio vaccines. Optional vaccines include ones for Hepatitis A and B, and a rabies vaccination, which is only necessary if you plan on enjoying the underground delights in the Wallonia region, where you may be exposed to bats. Before you travel, check with your local physician to see which, if any, vaccines are right for you.   If you bring electric or electronic devices, keep in mind that the voltage requirements are different in Belgium than they are in the US, as are the plugs. You will need a plug adapter as well as a transformer if your devices are not compatible with 220 – 230V 50Hz requirements.   Travel expenses in Belgium   When you travel to Belgium you will want to have plenty of money on hand to sample all the gastronomical delights, shop for the latest high end fashions, and excellent hotels. You can get by in...

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