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Delightful Day trips To Take On Your Visit To Brussels

Brussels is superbly located for quick-trips to several charming cities in Belgium. The three day-trips in this article have been highlighted because of their proximity to Europes capital.A little over half an hour by train from the very heart of Brussels is the busy city of Antwerp. If you have a longer stay in Brussels, youll want to experience a day here to enjoy its interesting fashion shops and nice mix of good value restaurants. If you fancy a stay overnight then the abundance of good, clean hotels will be a welcome sight particularly as they charge significantly less than youll pay in Brussels. You can book a hotel from the tourist office in the town centre of Grote Markt.- After checking out Grote Markt amble over to the Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal one of the most impressive medieval churches to be found anywhere in Belgium, Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal dates back to the 15th century.- Quite similar to Brussels, there are no shortage of restaurants and cafes in Antwerp however it is significantly cheaper to eat.Bruges is slightly farther away from Brussels than Antwerp, but still conveniently placed for a day-trip. It takes about an hour to reach Bruges by train and its well worth the effort when you consider the beauty this well preserved medieval city has to offer. Because of this, Bruges can often be packed in peak season and it can be difficult to obtain accommodation so be sure to book a place in advance if you plan to spend the night. Being a tourist hotspot, eating out in Bruges can be somewhat more expensive than other places in Belgium, and the food tends to cater to the mass number of tourists that flood the city during peak times.- Make sure you take a romantic boat ride along the cities beautiful canals. You can get a ticket for under six Euros.- Bruges offers a choice of worthwhile museums such as Groeninge (displaying a fine collection of Flemish art from as early as the 14th century). The Gruuthuse Museum is another that museum lovers will enjoy set amidst a grand medieval mansion Gruuthuse offers an exquisite collection of art & tapestry.- Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk took over two hundred years to build and this sprawling church of our lady dates back to the thirteenth century.- The Markt is one of the two central squares of Bruges city centre an open market has been held here as long ago as the tenth century.GhentHere are the must-see sights in Ghent if you happen to come for a short stay:- It took approximately six hudred years to complete St Baafskathedraal Ghents most prolific and oldest Cathedral and some parts of this gothic masterpiece stretch back to the twelfth century.- Gravensteen Castle was constructed in the eleventh century and its one of the most prolific landmarks of Ghent. Closeby are the Museum voor Sierkunst en Vormgeving (with various displays depicting Ghent life over the past couple of centuries) and the fish market (Vishmarkt). There are alternative museums to visit Museum voor Schone Kunsten has a large display of art dating back to the 14th century while the Bijlolemuseum is held in a building that was first built in the 13th century.- Stroll along the river Leie for one of the most pleasant walks available anywhere in Belgium.- If youre planning on staying the night you should be able to find a room that meets your requirements. Accommodation is typically fairly easy to secure (except for July when the town hosts Gentse Feesten). Its possible to secure a basic room from as little as 25 euros or if youre able to afford something more extravagant you could kip in style for 400 euros.

If your stay in Brussels extends to a week or more, you should certainly consider a day-trip to at least one of these wonderful Belgian cities.

The best dog breeds for lazy people

The best dog breeds for lazy people are dogs that don’t exist. Dogs require as much love, attention, training, care and grooming an owner can afford to give them. If a person is truly lazy, then owning a dog is not in their or the dog’s best interests. However, if by “lazy,” we mean “couch potato,” then there are a few small dog breeds that are naturally easy to maintain and exhibit low energy levels in an indoor environment that may fit the bill.

According to the web site, Go Pets America (www.gopetsamerica.com), there is a short list of dog breeds that are non-shedders, are small in size and have relatively low activity requirements indoors. Extensive outdoor exercise or long walks are not necessarily required as long as the dog receives adequate indoor exercise and maintains a healthy weight. Some toy breeds may have high energy levels, but can get the exercise they need running around in compact, indoor areas such as apartments or town homes. Some of these non-shedding, small, low activity dog breeds are:

1) Affenpinscher

2) Bichon Frise

3) Bolognese

4) Brussels Griffon

5) Chinese Crested

6) Coton de Tulear

7) Havanese

8) Shih Tzu

9) Toy Poodle

Keep in mind that any dog left to their own devices will become destructive. Providing plenty of chew toys and playthings to keep the dog busy throughout the day will curb his desire to take out his frustrations on your new couch.

Small dogs, especially toy and terrier breeds, are known to be yippers, expressing themselves loudly and continuously at the slightest provocation. Although the concept of training may conflict with a leisurely lifestyle, some early instruction in this area should keep the behavior to a minimum.

Crate confinement can be utilized to redirect energy and prevent damage to belongings when the dog is left by himself. A crate is simply an artificial den made of Fiberglas or wire that can located in any room. Choose a crate that allows the dog to easily enter, turn around and exit without difficulty. Once he learns that this is his special place, he will seek it out to nap or just relax. The crate can also be used as a “time out” location if the dog has misbehaved or needs to be kept isolated from small children or other animals for a short period.

Small, non-shedding, low-activity dog breeds make good pets for many people, regardless of their particular laziness factor. A clear benefit to those of the lazy persuasion may find that owning a dog will slowly draw them out of their couch potato existence and find that they enjoy the simple pleasures associated with dog ownership. Training, exercising and playing with their dog may become more rewarding as the relationship develops, which is what owning a dog is really all about.

Hotel horror stories

My hotel horror story takes place in Brussels. I am an over planner. I am always so careful about my choices. I do a lot of research. Which just goes to show that even with the best intentions and plans, things can still go astray.

I am going to leave the hotel unnamed to protect, well it isn’t to protect the innocent thats for sure but lets just say this hotel is a grand dame in Brussels. As we walked into the lobby we had no idea that anything might be wrong. it is absolutely gorgeous a belle epoch beauty.

As we were checking in I heard the woman who was checking us in ask the other man who was helping us in French “it is a non smoking room isn’t it”, he just shrugged and went on with what he was doing. Of course he had no idea that I am fluent in French.

With our room key in hand we head toward the elevator. In this part of the lobby there is a beauty old fashioned brass elevator, no that was not for us, we headed farther back into the hotel with our bellman. We went up several floors and the bellman opened our door. We walked in and gave him his tip. He went off with our two friends to their room. We walked over to look at the bathroom and noticed that the toilet was running. We giggled the handle but it wouldn’t stop. We grabbed the bellman from the hall to see if he could help. He couldn’t get it to stop either.

He called down to the desk and told them our problem. They told him to take us to another room, which he did. He had a master key so he could get us in. As soon as we entered this room I was hit by the stench of cigarette smoke and also saw the ash tray in the room. Oh no I said we had a non smoking room. He called down to the desk, this really annoyed me because they knew we were non smoking.

Okay they sent us off to a new room. We walked in and put down our suitcase yikes there was already a suitcase in the room, he had just let us into someone else’s room. You guessed it, the bellman called the front desk again and off we went again. This was now room #4.

This room was okay. Not much to look at, colors were garish and didn’t match but the bathroom had been renovated and it was beautiful, it even had a bidet. Okay we were pretty happy now.

Later that evening when I was walking around the room in my stocking feet I found a damp spot on the floor. I figured they must have steam cleaned the carpeting.

We woke up at 7am to an unusual sound. Tap, Tap, Tap it took me a while to figure out where it was coming from. There was

Hotel reviews: Holiday Inn, Aachen, Germany

Aachen is conveniently situated for easy access to other parts of Germany as well as Belgium and the Netherlands. In fact, the city sits at the crossroads of Euroroute 40 which goes from Calais, through Brussels and on to Dresden; and the E25 from Amsterdam, through Strasbourg to Switzerland.

Located on Krefelder Strase, just a few hundred metres off the A4 (E40) motorway, the hotel couldn’t be easier to find.

Krefelder Strase leads directly into the city centre and the Cathedral, City Hall and the quaint old town with it’s narrow little streets are all a just few minutes away from the hotel.

The hotel is housed in a modern building set back some distance from the road so that, although the road is extremely busy with traffic, there are no real problems with noise.

There are 99 bedrooms arranged over 4 floors and all the rooms feature double-size beds. Non-smoking rooms are available, as are rooms suitable for disabled travellers.

The reception area was all very fresh, modern and inviting and, as we were there in December, the large Christmas tree and seasonal displays made for a very pleasant entrance.

As we had reserved this on the net it was a simple matter of handing over our confirmation number. Not that communication would have been a problem anyway, the girl who dealt with us spoke better English than I did.

According to the hotel’s website, their staff speak: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish and Turkish…hopefully not all at the same time!

On checking in, we were given a voucher for a complimentary glass of sherry which we didn’t bother taking advantage of. Sherry?! It was a nice touch though.

Anyway, it was all very friendly and efficient and we were soon on our way to our room.

If you’ve ever stayed in a Holiday Inn, then you’ll know what the room was like – they all seem to be pretty much exactly the same wherever you are. The room was fairly large by European standards with two, good-sized double beds which were comfortable; adequate wardrobe space; a desk; a dresser with plenty of drawers and a table and chairs. The room was well equipped with table lamps and a large window kept it bright during the day.

There was cable TV with the usual selection of channels as well as in-house video and radio. Coffee and tea making facilities were on hand but the sachets of coffee were absolutely revolting – it surely wouldn’t break the bank to supply decent coffee. We also had a trouser press but I’m afraid

Hotel reviews: Hotel Nicolas, Bruges, Belgium

During our recent trip to Belgium we stayed in Bruges. We had never stayed there before and, when planning the trip, didn’t know any hotels to base our decision on which to pick on. Our group was quite large (there were to be 17 of us in total) so we needed a decent sized place, but not in a huge and impersonal hotel. We also wanted to be well located in the centre of Bruges, but not too far away from the railway station (or at least easy to get to by public transport). So the criteria was small(ish), friendly, clean, good location, decent breakfast, good transport links and not too expensive. Were we asking too much? Our trip organiser (who was also in charge of transport) had a scout around and came up with the Hotel Nicolas.


The Hotel Nicolas can be found at 9 Niklaas Desparsstraat in the centre of Bruges (so it certainly fulfilled that criteria). It is really near to the shops and is only about 200 metres from the main Market Place so you are also close to the main tourist attractions that surround the square, such as the Belfry, the cloth market and the Provincial Court. There are also lots of bars, cafes and shops around the edge of the square. As well as that there are usually some special events going on in the square while we were there we saw an open air concert, a bicycle fair and a firework and light show!

To get to the hotel if you are travelling by train (we went to Belgium on the Eurostar, after our minibus broke down on the M25 on the way down a bit of a nightmare which ended in us standing on the side of the motorway for 3 hours!). This meant we had to get a train from Brussels to Bruges. When you come out of the railway station in Bruges you will find the bus stops are all just outside the main entrance. Get any bus that says Centrum on it and get off at the Market from there the hotel is only a few minutes walk away. We should have been going there by coach, but as circumstances were against us we didn’t end up having to locate the hotel by road; there are full instructions about where to go and were to park on the hotel website (address given below).


We got a group booking so any supplements or extras were spilt evenly between the group our outlay also included our transport too. According to the hotel the prices are dependent on season and room size. For a single room you will pay 50 per night (45 in winter season) and for a double room 60 (53). Other rooms (with 3 beds, etc) are

Five Things To See On Your Holidays In Belgium

Belgium is becoming a very popular European family holiday destination. Holiday makers like to take a family holiday in Belgium and rent self catering holiday accommodation. Belgium has some great holiday villas and self catering holiday apartments that can be rented direct from their owners as holiday accommodation.

The main international airport here is the Brussels airport, which was known as Zaventem before it was renamed. In case you are already in Europe you can easily reach here by a bus or train. There are some international bus services operating from and to Belgium. There are international services to Belgium everyday on Belgium Railways.

Belgium is situated in the western part of Europe and has around 40 miles of seacoast on the North Sea and Strait of Dover, together. It is enclosed by France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Belgium’s main rivers Meuse and the Schelde, are very important for commercial movement. The capital of Belgium is Brussels.

The capital city is not the only place to see and visit in Belgium. There are many other fascinating cities which include Ghent, Liege, and Bruges. They have very imposing architecture, great cuisine and enjoyable night life.

As it is a very beautiful and well preserved medieval city in Europe, Bruges of Belgium are known as the Venice of the North. Antwerp is famous for fashion and design in Belgium. The mountainous region of the Ardennes region to the east is a very beautiful place to see.

Some places to visit when you are holidaying in Belgium are the Gravensteen, which is also called Count’s Castle. It is situated in the heart of Ghent and was a very powerful seat of the 12th-century counts of Flanders. It is a typical castle which has moat, turrets and arrow slits. The view from the battlements is fantastic.

Hautes Fagnes Nature Reserve or otherwise called High Fens is a marshy moorland with woods and wind blowing over. It is a plateau over Germany’s Eifel hills. People who love walking and cycling can be seen here. The Menin Gate or Meensestraat can be said to be a very sad reminder of Ypres past. You will see the names of 54,896 British and Commonwealth troops, who were lost in the Flanders trenches during World War I, inscribed on the huge white gate. The traffic stops every evening at 20:00, and you can hear the sound of the Last Post.

Cinquantenaire Museum is an unbelievable place with 350,000 artifacts, which are collected from every where. They are from anywhere in the world across all cultures and nationality. The majestic Royal Museum of Art and History has a permanent collection of all these amazing things.

Brussels’ outstanding central square, also known as the Grand Place, prides itself of the Belgium’s best baroque guildhalls, pavement cafes and friendly restaurants. It is concealed in the heart of the old town. You can only see it once you enter the place through the narrow lanes. Belgium is very well known for its special products like beer, mouthwatering chocolates, gorgeous lace, and do not miss on the Belgian waffles.

London and Monaco are Europe’s Most Expensive Cities for Residential Property Buyers

London and Monaco are Europe’s most expensive cities for residential property buyers. Prices in the Baltics have risen to the same level as capitals such as Copenhagen, Berlin, Munich, Stockholm, Vienna, and Frankfurt.

High rewards await property investors in some parts of Europe, according to the Global Property Guide, a residential real estate research organization (www.globalpropertyguide.com). Rental yields for apartments in several Eastern European capitals are above 10%.

Rental apartments in Moldova’s capital city Chisinau can be expected to yield annual rental returns of around 14.13%; in Poland’s capital Warsaw, 13.28%; in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, 10.56%; and in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava, 10.06%. The higher risks of Eastern Europe may be a factor in these returns (corruption, political instability, etc).

But risks are not the only factor. The Global Property Guide believes that the relatively recent arrival of the market economy, high interest rates, and relatively undeveloped mortgage markets, largely explain the low prices in the east. To illustrate, it would surely be hard to label the historic city of Bratislava, Slovakia, as a high-risk location, yet the rental income returns are excellent.

Western Europe generally suffers from another, different disadvantage: High taxation. There are high rental income returns to be earned in Amsterdam and Paris (8.25% in both), in Munich (7.80%) and Brussels (7.53%). But all four cities are high tax environments (but so too is Poland).

Property in Prime Central London returns surprisingly high rental yields, at 7.13%. Note that this “Prime” category encompasses relatively a narrow group of super-luxury apartments in absolutely prime areas (Belgravia, Chelsea, and Knightsbridge). The high returns in these select super-central locations contrast with the significantly lower rental yields (5.79%) available in Central London’s other luxury areas (Kensington, Bayswater, Notting Hill Gate, St Johns Wood, Highgate, Islington, Highbury, and Primrose Hill).

Europe’s most expensive cities

The tiny principality of Monaco is the most expensive location to buy an apartment in Europe at around €24,900 per square metre (sq. m.).

Closely on its tail is Prime Central London, where 120 sq. m. super-luxury apartments can cost £1,170,000 (€1,742,656) or £9,750 (€14,522) per sq. m. Apartments of 120 sq. m. in other luxury areas of Central London are likely to cost £580,000 or £4,833 per sq. m. (€863,880 or €7,199). The large difference is explained by London’s highly segmented top-end market, with super-luxury apartments in absolutely prime areas commanding considerable premiums.

Paris and Amsterdam follow London. A 120 sq. m. apartment in either of these cities has an average purchase price of €800,000 (€6,667 per sq. m.).

Moscow is Europe’s sixth most expensive capital for buyers of residential property. And though apartments in Moscow can be rather rewarding for buyers in terms of rental income returns, investors should be aware of the high risks (purchases are cash-based, and the authorities can suddenly turn hostile).

Dublin makes an appearance among Europe’s most expensive cities in 10th place, with a high end 120 sq. m. apartment on average costing around €600,000.

The Baltics, till recently Europe’s hottest residential investment destination, are now expensive. A high-end apartment in Central Vilnius, Lithuania will cost on average around €3,792 per sq. m (€455,000 for 120 sq. m.).

Latvia follows closely with high-end apartments in Central Riga costing an average of €3,020 pr sq. m. Rental yields in the Baltics have also dropped to very low levels.

There are still some very inexpensive capitals in Europe. Berlin, in particular (€3,167 per sq. m.), is now experiencing inflows of foreign money in response to its relatively low prices.

Even less expensive are:

Slovakia’s Bratislava (€1,292 per sq. m.)

Poland’s Warsaw (€1,175 per sq. m.)

Macedonia’s Skopje (€1,125 per sq. m.)

Moldova’s Chisinau (€917 per sq. m.)

Rental returns cannot fall forever

As 2007 dawns, rental returns are lower in most locations than they have been for 20 or more years.

Nowhere in Europe are rents keeping pace with the continued strong rise in property prices. Residential real estate prices are at historical peaks in almost all countries in Europe, except Germany and Switzerland.

This is cause for concern. At the Global Property Guide, we informally consider a danger signal to be rental returns of around 4% or below.

Several European capitals offer rental income yields around or below this 4% level. In example is Madrid, where rental returns are now at only 3.15%. Rental yields in Monaco are the lowest in Europe at around 2.43%.

See tables at:


Different Personalities Of Small Dog Breeds

Once you have decided that you are going to get a small dog, it is time to find out about the different personalities and characteristics of small breeds, so you get one that fits your home and lifestyle.

Brussels Griffon

These adorable little dogs found in two varieties, which are rough and smooth, usually weigh between eight and twelve pounds. They can be a little stubborn when it comes to housebreaking. The smooth Brussels griffon needs brushing once a week and the rough coated Brussels griffon about twice a week. These dogs are great for apartments or small homes as long as you provide them with exercise. In general, this little dog is happy, playful, friendly, but may be a little standoffish with strangers and is better with children that are older. Their average life expectancy is twelve years.

French Bulldogs

French bulldogs are perfect for smaller homes and apartments as long as they can play and romp a little and you do not force them to exercise. They are wonderful, loving, good-natured dogs that love being with the family. They should spend most of their time indoors, especially if it is warm out. The average lifespan of a French bulldog is twelve years.

Australian terriers

These small dogs are extremely energetic and do best in a home with a fenced backyard for lots of exercise. These terriers are great watchdogs that are brave and fearless. They shed very little so brushing them once a week is enough. Australian terriers love being part of the family.

Miniature schnauzer

Twelve to fourteen inches high, these wonderful dogs are salt and pepper, solid black or black and silver colored. They are happy in an apartment or large home in the country, as long as they are with their family. These great companions are intelligent, busy, friendly, and love to play. They require trimming every four to six weeks and brushing occasionally.

Italian greyhound

You need a home with a moderate amount of room to keep this active dog happy. A small dog, usually less than fifteen inches, they come in many different colors. With their very short hair, they appreciate a sweater when going outside in cooler weather. These dogs let you know when a stranger comes in, not aggressive. They are a long-lived breed with their average life span around fourteen years.


Usually weighing in at a petite six pounds or less, these cute little dogs require a fair amount of grooming and brushing because of their longer hair. Well suited for smaller places, they love being a lap dog and getting lots of attention. Good with children they grew up with, they are playful and very loyal to their owners. Their average lifespan is fifteen years.

Toy Poodle

A toy poodle is perfect for smaller places but is happy wherever their owners are. Weekly brushing and grooming ever four to six weeks will keep them looking their best. Poodles were born to play and should have a supply of their own toys. Extremely intelligent, you can train them easily. Poodles do not like being alone so are a poor choice for anyway that travels or is away a lot. Their average life span is eleven years.

Hotel review: Ibis Dinant, Dinant, Belgium

Booking an Ibis hotel online couldn’t be any easier as the website is well laid out and easy to negotiate. Just type in your destination, click on a particular brand of hotel (or any/all), list your dates, fill in your details, and three clicks later your room is booked.

If you should need to cancel, and I have frequently changed my plans and done just that, it’s a matter of typing your confirmation number, click cancel, click confirm, and that’s it. You can cancel up to 4pm on the day of arrival.

Ibis hotels are part of the Accor group which includes the hotels chains of Sofitel, Mercure, Novotel and Etap, among others.

Dinant is a pretty little town which lies astride the River Meuse, around 35km south of the city of Namur in Belgium. It’s only a few miles from the A4 motorway between Brussels and Luxembourg, and is convenient for visiting the Ardennes region of southern Belgium

The hotel is pretty easy to find. It sits on the main road running through the town, just on the edge of the main shopping area and adjacent to the casino.

We had a bit of a problem trying to park outside the hotel but this was due to the fact that some of the car park was not quite finished and therefore spaces were at a premium – I’m sure it’s fine now.

We didn’t have a reservation but there wasn’t any problem getting a room and the person behind the desk was very helpful – we were registered in minutes.

The reception area merged into a large lounge with a section housing some PC’s and faxes etc. A little further on, there was a bar area with picture windows overlooking the river, and further still, a small cafeteria/restaurant.

The elevator was immediately across from the reception desk so, formalities completed, we headed for our room on the third floor.

The hotel has 60 rooms spread over 4 floors.

As with most chains, Ibis rooms are all quite similar so, once you’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all. It’s one of the things I don’t like about them – there’s no sense of excitement, or apprehension, wondering what the room will be like. Conversely, knowing what you’re going to get means no feeling of disappointment when the room doesn’t quite live up to expectations either.

The room was spotless and decorated in an pale tangerine colour which was quite warm and inviting. We had two twin beds (pushed together) with bedside cabinets – phone, clock/radio etc. – a work station/desk/dresser with internet link and plenty of lighting – there were 4 or 5 spotlights,

There’s More to Do at St Pancras Then Just Board a Train

Saved from demolition in 1960 by the famous English poet Sir John Betjemen, St Pancras International Station was re-opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 6th November 2007 after £800 million restoration programme.

Located in Central London, St Pancras is a stunning and architecturally amazing building that has more underground tunnels than any other London Station. During the six year restoration programme, 150 years of dirt and grime was painstakingly removed from the brickwork, the new roof was fitted with 18,000 panes of self cleaning glass and 20,000 litres Barlow Blue paint, an exact colour match to the original paint work was used on the station’s iron work.

New pieces of artwork were specially commissioned including one of Sir John Betjemen who in addition to saving St Pancras from demolition also helped it achieve Grade I listed status. Another statue, an eight foot high bronze of a couple enjoying a loving embrace is situated underneath the famous St Pancras Clock.

Also saved from demolition in 1960 were The Chambers, a Grade I Gothic Building which fronts St Pancras Station. At a cost of £100 million, the Chambers will be transformed into 67 private apartments and penthouses and a luxury 5 star hotel. Expected to open in 2009 the hotel, to be called the Renaissance St Pancras will be owned and operated by Marriott International and will feature 245 bedrooms, eight meeting rooms, a ballroom as well as health and leisure facilities.

Most notably the new central London home to the Eurostar, providing high speed train links from London to Paris, Brussels and Lille and two other train operators, East Midlands Trains and First Capital Direct, St Pancras is also a great place to meet a friend for a drink, to admire the architecture or to go shopping. Boasting Europe’s long Champagne Bar at 90 metres, it also has 82,0000 square feet of retail space to keep even the most ardent shopper happy for hours.