You can’t leave Brussels without sampling the chocolates, which you will find on almost every street. I highly recommend indulging in Chocolate Laurent Gerbaud located at 2 D Rue Ravenstein (www.chocolatsgerbaud.be) or Pierre Marcolini (www.marcolini.be). I never tired of eating these delights.
Brussels is one of the most international cities, and there is a modern feel to its stately architecture, which adds to its charm. The Grand Place is a huge central square surrounded by exquisitely designed buildings, cafes, shops and hotels - known for its impressive architecture, people watching and any excuse to enjoy a pint of beer at any of the many inviting cafes. I stayed at the Hotel Amigo (www.hotelamigo.com), a Rocco Forte Hotel, which is a luxurious five star property centrally located steps away from the Grand Place, with 159 spacious rooms and 19 suites, offering superior service and comfortable amenities. The public areas are decorated with many pieces of art from famous artists and stunning tapestries. Enjoy their breakfast, especially the Belgian waffles, vast selection of homemade breads, fresh fruits and smoked salmon.
BRUGES: A True Culinary Adventure
You can easily spend two days wandering through this magical and romantic city. Its unique and medieval charm can be found on cobblestone streets, little alleyways, and canals where you must take a boat ride. Diverse museums will give you a history of Bruges. A haven for food lovers, its restaurants are soulful, combining new ideas and market-fresh fare. You really will enter a culinary wonderland. Most restaurants are located in amazing picturesque settings, where you will encounter pure flavors, true French-Belgian cuisines, typical Flemish foods, some with a modern twist. Make sure your clients eat at Zeno, (www.restaurantzeno.com) and Bij de Lieven, (www.etenbijlieven.be).
The Kempinksi Dukes Palace (www.kempinski.com) is a five-star deluxe hotel, combining elegance with luxurious service and amenities. The 93 rooms, including 22 palace suites are spacious and equipped with the latest technology. The hotel boasts an art gallery and gorgeous manicured gardens, and best of all, its location is within walking distance of everything, just five minutes from the central square.
Ghent: Small Town, Big City
Ghent is a cozy, well organized, sophisticated city with so much to see and do. It is vibrant with Gothic architecture, stylish restaurants and is a mecca for shopping. As one of the most historic cities in the world, it is full of life and history. Almost everything is within walking distance, but the best way to see Ghent from a different perspective is to hop on a boat. There are impressive medieval houses on both sides of the river. Passengers get a taste of history, laced with juicy little anecdotes from the Captain.
Ghent’s oldest building is the Castle of the Counts, built in 1180. It is a fortress in the city center, and takes you back in time with its armor, weapons and torture instruments. The Great Butchers Hall, in the old city square, is a gothic building where you can stop in for lunch and buy specialties, including Ganda Ham. Across the street is a small shop that sells the most unique and delicious mustard, only sold here - Tierenteyn-Verlant, well worth the visit. Two fabulous restaurants not to be missed are Allegro Moderato, (www.restoallegro.com) and vibrant Volta, (www.volt-gent.be) housed in a vast converted turbine hall. Totally cool.
For a unique experience you must make it to Ghent’s Gin Bar, called the T Dreupelkot, located on the waterfront. With over 200 kinds of gin to sample and an adorable owner, this is a Ghent institution that will delight you.
Getting to Brussels
For an exceptional flying experience, book Brussels Airlines (the old Sabena for those travel agents who have been around for a while). Brussels Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, and provides excellent service. Daily flights are offered from New York to Brussels. www.brusselsairlines.com
For more information, visit the Tourist Office for Flanders, www.visitflanders.us