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Archive for belgium

MUM in Binche

By Linda Tancs

Think of all the carnivals in the world and the masks traditionally associated with them, sometimes accompanied by parades, flamboyant costumes or all-night parties. Maybe Venice or Rio comes to mind. If you can’t possibly attend them, don’t despair. You can experience many of them at the International Museum of Carnival and Mask (MÜM) in Binche, Belgium. A permanent exhibition there journeys across the continents, exploring the European winter festivals, the ceremonies of North America and Latin America, customs of Africa and traditions of Asia and Oceania.

Contemplating Bruges

By Linda Tancs

The Beguinage in the Belgian city of Bruges is the only preserved beguinage (a complex created to house beguines, lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world). Dating to the 13th century, it’s one of the city’s best-known landmarks, comprising a collection of white-painted houses, a chapel and various buildings. Now occupied by nuns of the Order of St. Benedict, the park-like ambience (which does include an actual park populated with swans and poplar trees) provides a tranquil resting spot for locals and tourists.

A Village’s Best Friend

By Linda Tancs

A best friend sees you through thick and thin. That’s pretty much what a 400-year-old lime tree in Messemen, Belgium, has done. The village’s beloved, fragrant lime tree witnessed the church fire of 1645, the village’s inauguration as a principality in 1650 and the defeat of French invaders in 1798. Its gnarled trunk only adds to its charm, making it the subject of many paintings.

Dining in the Sky

By Linda Tancs

Once upon a time only an airline meal would’ve qualified as sky dining. Nowadays you can eliminate the fuselage and dine at table while suspended in the air by a massive crane. That’s the concept behind Dinner in the Sky, a vertigo-inducing gastronomic adventure originating in Belgium. Available now in more than 40 countries, this flying dinner party has made its way to locales including the Las Vegas Strip, the marina of Dubai, the banks of the St. Lawrence River and the beach of Copacabana. These unique events have featured iconic chefs like Pierre Gagnaire, Marc Veyrat, Heston Blumenthal and Paco Roncero. Will you send your taste buds to new heights?

Meatballs and Fries

By Linda Tancs

An important political center in medieval Europe, Liège is a historic Belgian city on the Meuse River. It abounds with puppets, feasts and legends—as well as an ample supply of meatballs and fries (boulets à la liégeoise). The most traditional dish from the region, it comprises meatballs prepared with pork and beef along with fries and a sweet sauce (a mixture of pears and apple syrup, wine, onions and a local gin). Spend Sunday like a native and have a platter after visiting La Batte, a Sunday institution (the largest and oldest market in Belgium) stretching over a mile with colorful stalls offering fruit, cheeses, clothes, flowers and local products.

A Grand Procession in Brussels

By Linda Tancs

Today is the first of two annual summer processions in Brussels. Known as the Ommegang (procession), it’s a medieval procession begun in 1549 as a celebration of the entry of Charles V and his court into Brussels, where the monarch resided most of the time and wielded much of his power over a mighty empire. The processional route, replete with hundreds of costumed performers, begins at Parc de Bruxelles and ends at Grand Place. Access to the route is free, but tickets are required for the performance at Grand Place. The Ommegang takes place a second time on 2 July.

The Glass City

By Linda Tancs

In the 19th century, architect Alphonse Balat designed a complex of greenhouses for Belgian King Leopold II to complement the castle of Laeken.  Known as the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, the sweeping collection of rotundas, cupolas and galleries comprising metal and glass resembles a glass city.  Some of the king’s original plant collections still exist, surrounded by rare and valuable plants meticulously labeled.  Continuing a century-old tradition of opening the luxurious collection to public view for a limited time, this year’s opening–punctuated by blooming azaleas–began on 17 April and continues until 8 May.

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