5 Authentic European Food Stops

Gastronomy is the culmination of cultural expression, characterizing allegiance to both innovation and tradition. Culinary culture and the foods created by distinct groups symbolize unique differences and interlaced voices throughout the world. Wine and food tours transcend epicurean feasts; they are exemplary of a travel experience exalted to its most extravagant and unique. The global stops hailed for rich ingredients and incredible food are countless, but exceptionally unmistakable in many cities around Europe where feasting on delectable dishes is as much a pastime as a necessity. Experience the soul of European traditions, cultures, and history with these five authentic European food stops.

5. Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s culinary acuity has continued to rise drawing throngs of curious food-lovers to delve into hot food spots and eat like tomorrow may never come. Danes love innovation, especially when it comes to food and this is completely emphasized in the cool restos, hopping cafes, entertaining food tours, and markets like Torvehallerne offering traditional and unconventional food and ingredients. The gastro scene is completely inviting and promotes plenty of simple ingredients too: mulberries are pulled from urban parks, open-faced sandwiches laden with cured meats and rich cheeses, and fish smoked aboard wood tabletops in funky cafes. Visit in August and be privy to the party unfolding at the Copenhagen Cooking Festival, a highly esteemed European food event. Copenhagen’s diverse food scene is best explored by a more aimless than calculated walk and with any bit of acumen for aromas, you’ll find your way to any number of persuading tables.

4. Munich

There are abounding prospects throughout Munich, one of Europe’s most treasured and alluring cities. The beer gardens across the city are where some simple but delicious food comes together with the continent’s most expertly brewed beer; Marientplatz, Munich’s central square, is a great launching point for food circuits and one most local foodie tours begin at; then the walk to Munich’s most esteemed market, Viktualienmarkt, is just about a five-minute walk. The 200-year-old market is Munich’s most prominent food destination where a wealth of local delicacies can be snapped up–bring a shopping bag or two–and the variety, selection, and exclusiveness of the goods add to its special feel. Another five to six minutes’ walk away is famous beer garden Hofbräuhaus where the best German beers share taps behind the bar. Round off the day and your appetite with a final stop at Dallmayr Delicatessen, a café and bistro sure to entice your wallet out with some aromatic creations. Stat another food-isnpired day with an exploration of the shops and market stalls of Elisabethmarkt where fish, sausages, soups, and other Bavarian favourites are sold.

3. Barcelona

There are few places in Barcelona where food isn’t featured:, from street stalls sell freshly cooked dishes, small shops hawk fresh bread and regional wine, all shapes and sizes of tapas bars with irresistible eats–and oh the markets, with exquisite offerings appealing to infinite tastes. If market’s are your inclination, stop in at the extensive Mercado San Antoni, conveniently set on bustling La Rambla. It’s perfect for a wander but even better for the freshest of ingredients for a simple lunch or finely cooked dinner. Part farm-fresh produce, part on-the-spot café, and part wet market, you’ll find everything from pears to sandwiches to crabs. La Boqueria is a dazzling specimen of a market and much larger then San Antoni but expect much of the same beckoning foods. If honey-infused cheeses and Catalan baked goods makes your mouth water, don’t miss this market which features natural and organic goods.

2. Bordeaux

France’s Bordeaux wine region is famous for incredible wines and the culinary scene has jumped on board, accompanying celebrated vintages with the country’s most impressive indulgences. The gastronomic landscape draws on historic French traditions, constructing a varied and appetizing landing point for discerning palettes. Bigorre pork, certified Pauillac lamb, and specially raised Bazas beer (Boeuf de Bazas), display the best southwest meat dishes. The Sunday organic market along the riverfront, La Ronde des Fromages cheese market, Capcucins Market stocked with food stalls, cheese mongers, butchers, and the gamut are also prerequisite stops. With four-dozen-plus Michelin star restaurants in Bordeaux, it’s worth forking over the bills to experience refined eateries like La Gabriel, or summertime dining under twinkling lights and chestnut trees at Le St-James. Small enough to explore on foot and filled with charming, funky neighborhoods, food isn’t the only temptation you’ll find in Bordeaux, but it’s about the best.

1. Brussels

12 Best Museums to Walk Among Dinosaurs

If you ever had the inkling to come face to face with a dinosaur, now is your chance. Although there are not any Jurassic Park theme parks as of yet; there are plenty of museums where you can get a more realistic idea of where dinosaurs came from and how they evolved. From China to New York to the land down under these 12 awesome museums give you the chance to walk among the dinosaurs, each offering their own unique spin on exhibits and displays.

12. Jurassic Land, Istanbul, Turkey

Part education and part entertainment, this is the closest you will come to living out your Jurassic World fantasies. Your journey here starts at the museum which features bones and eggs from millions of years ago and takes visitors through the history of dinosaurs with incredible exhibits. The science center is among the favorites and informative guides take visitors through, talking about the incubation units and introducing them to the moving realistic looking dinosaurs.

There is a great digging workshop for kids and after excavating they will receive a certificate. The 4-D theatre is suitable for all ages, although if you have really young kids it may be scary. This interactive film takes visitors a ride to Dinosaur Island and be prepared as you may just want to watch it again and again. Part museum, part amusement park, this is best suited for families with kids.

Via istanbulkesfi.com

11. Iziko Museum, Cape Town, South Africa

You won’t be heading here to see dinosaurs such as the famous T-Rex or Stegosaurus; instead, you will find prehistoric beats from the Karoo Region. This museum caters to visitors who want to learn more about the less known dinosaurs and their cousins that inhabited the continent. The dinosaur hall is where you’ll find a permanent exhibition called Stone Bones of the Ancient Karoo.

Here visitors will find ancient lizards, huge crocodiles and a cast of the most complete skeleton of Heterodontosaurus found to date. Make sure to check out Kirky the dinosaur, arguably the cutest dinosaur in the history of South Africa. The Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance and you will want to explore more than just the dinosaur hall here.

Via fireflyafrica.blogspot.com

10. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, Colorado

Although this museum is quite small, it delivers an awesome experience for those looking to learn more about dinosaurs. The center features an awe-inspiring display of dinosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, pterosaurs, and fish of North America’s late Cretaceous period. Graphics and life-restoration sculptures are used to help visitors imagine these animals in real life.

What is so cool about this museum is the fact that you can see right inside the working fossil laboratory through the glass windows. This is a great museum for kids as it is not so big they will get tired and there are plenty of activities for them such as a fossil dig box, activity stations, and two short movies. Visitors will definitely want to take advantage of the tour that is included with admission as they run about an hour long and are highly informative.

Via The Dinosaur Stop

9. Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany

Besides housing an extremely large collection of bones excavated from Tanzania, 250 tones to be exact, this museum is also home to the tallest dinosaur on display in the world. The Brachiosaurus dominates the first gallery, standing at 41 feet, 5 inches tall. Also on display at this museum visitors will find the impressive Kentrosaurus, a spiky lizard that lived in the Upper Jurassic period.

What might be the most impressive here though is the Archaeopteryx fossil, thought to be the best-known fossil in the world and provides the link between birds and dinosaurs. One of the most interesting things this museum has done is install Jurascopes that allow visitors to bring the dinosaurs to life.

Via YouTube

8. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta

This museum is home to the permanent exhibition “Giants of the Mesozoic”, where a battle between giants is taking place. The world’s largest dinosaurs are shown here in a predator vs. prey situation and replicate the badlands of Patagonia, Argentina, where the largest dinosaurs in the world were unearthed. This exhibit features the Giganotosaurus, a dinosaur that is comparable in size to the T-Rex, as well as the Argentinosaurus, who scientists claim is the largest dinosaur ever classified.

Visitors will want to look up as more than 20 pterosaurs are shown overhead. Other notable features in this museum are the pterosaur and dinosaur tracks, remnants from an Araucaria tree, a fossilized crocodile, and additional fossil casts. It should be noted that all the fossils are cast replicas of the original specimens as the actual fossilized bones remain in Argentina, where they are considered a national treasure.

Via Expedia

7. Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science, Brussels, Belgium

The most important pieces in the museum are definitely the 30 fossilized Iguanodon skeletons, discovered in 1878 and helping to make the dinosaur hall Europe’s largest museum hall completely dedicated to dinosaurs. This museum is not just fascinating to walk through though, it actually offers an incredible amount of education through the interactive exhibits including the details of the fossilization process and dinosaur digs.

Parents will love watching the eight interviews with paleontology experts around the world while kids will have a blast in the paleo lab where they can touch and explore real fossils, along with putting together a life-sized stegosaurus and walking in dinosaur footprints. This museum does an excellent job linking dinosaurs to modern-day animals, making it even easier to understand how evolution works. A win-win in our books.

Via Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

6. Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Alberta, Canada

This museum holds more than 130,000 fossils and is the only one of its kind dedicated to the science of paleontology. This museum focuses on education, creativity, and fun while opening visitor’s eyes to the fascinating world of dinosaurs. Visitors will want to make sure to head over to the Albertosaurus exhibit where this close relative of the T-Rex is displayed moving across a dry river channel.

This exhibit was the result of scientific evidence collected from a mass grave. The Dinosaur Hall features one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur remains that have been reconstructed and a favorite of many visitors. A rotating fossil display will enthuse visitors who are looking to see more of the tens of thousands of fossils this museum has. Make sure to make your way over to the Cretaceous Garden and experience what that environment was like and see Canada’s largest collection of prehistoric plant relatives.

Via fortwoplz.com

5. Zigong Dinosaur Museum, Zigong, China

This museum attracts over seven million visitors a year, in part because of its awesome location atop a fossil site. The excellent reputation it holds comes from the life-like exhibits, unique architecture, magnificent burial sites and incredible environment. Visitors here will experience two floors of displays and exhibits. The first floor features the favorite of many, Dinosaur world where 18 dinosaurs of different species and size are displayed.

The first floor is also home to the burial site, the largest burial site for watching spot-on protected dinosaur fossils so far known in the world. The second floor features a treasure hall, a display of all the flora and fauna from that period and displays on the evolution of dinosaurs and species. This huge roc cave-like museum was the first museum in Asia dedicated to dinosaurs and will surely not disappoint visitors.

Via CNN.com

4. American Museum of Natural History, New York

This museum has one of the greatest dinosaur fossil collections in the world and houses two famed dinosaur halls in the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing. The Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs is where visitors will find one of the major groups of dinosaurs, the ones with grasping hands. It is here where you will find the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex and the Apatosaurus. Along with the fossils, there is a slew of video footage and photography exploring the history of paleontology at the museum.

The Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs features the group of dinosaurs defined by a backward-pointing extension of the pubis bone and include such dinosaurs as the Stegosaurus and Triceratops. The museum has actually developed a dinosaur map to go along with the exhibit and visitors can use the app to help plan their way through the exhibits. For kids ages 6-13 there is a special overnight experience that takes place in the dinosaur hall where they can explore the exhibits by flashlight.

Via Citi Bike

3. National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra, Australia

Home to the largest permanent display of dinosaur and prehistoric fossils in Australia, this is where you should head if you want to know anything about dinosaurs down under. The museum actually follows the evolution of life and just happens to put the emphasis on dinosaurs. The favorite part of this museum has to be the dinosaur garden, with its imposing dinosaur sculptures made out of fiberglass and animatronics.

The museum has only been in operation since 1993 and with 23 complete skeletons, and over 300 displays of individual fossils, it is growing and expanding its collection as each year passes. Special experiences here include guided tours, children’s learning events, and fossil digs.

Via ABC

2. Wyoming Dinosaur Center, Thermopolis, Wyoming

It is one of the few dinosaur museums that have its own excavation site within driving distance and the standout attraction is the 106 foot Supersaurus on display, although their claim to fame here is the Archaeopteryx.  Only 12 specimens exist in the world and “The Thermopolis Specimen” is second only to the “Berlin” specimen in terms of completeness, including a well-preserved skull.

Also, there are over 30 mounted dinosaurs including two Velociraptors and a 41 foot T-Rex that is attacking a Triceratops horridus. Walking through the museums means following the time displays which go from earliest life forms to dinosaurs and finally mammals. The dig site can be toured in nice weather and it’s a rare opportunity for visitors to see dinosaur bones in the ground and the actual excavation of them. The real draw here is the chance to speak with actual paleontologists or to join one of the “dig days”.

Via Pitchengine

1. The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

It has the most famous of all museum dinosaurs, Sue, the largest, most complete, and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the world. The original skull weighs over 600 lbs and flashes 58 teeth and she is over 42 feet long and 67 million years old. That is just the beginning of this awesome dinosaur experience here at the Field Museum of Natural History.

The permanent Evolving Planet exhibition takes visitors on a journey through an expanded dinosaur hall where you learn about every major group of dinosaurs, where they lived, and what scientists have learned from Sue. Kids will love the fossil play lab located in the dinosaur hall. Don’t miss the 3-D movie where visitors are taken on a ride through Sue’s life, from hatchling to a 7-ton ferocious beast.

Via Chicago Tribune

The 11 Best Urban Beaches in Europe

Most European waterways are not suitable for summer, due to health concerns, but that hasn’t stopped cities from inventing some pretty amazing urban beaches. In order to beat the heat and celebrate the summer, cities have imported sand, created epic pools and decked out busy streets in beach huts and sun chairs. From the capital of Poland to the streets of Paris, these are 11 of the absolute best urban beaches in all of Europe.

11. Poniatówka Beach, Warsaw

The capital of Poland was severely lacking in beaches until only a few years ago and that’s when this beach popped into the spotlight. This wild and wide beach located right in the city offers everything from beach volleyball to nightly bonfires to sunbathing to wild nightly parties. Partying isn’t the only thing this beach offers though; wildlife is plentiful if you can find a quiet spot. Animals such as otters, elk, deer and boar have been known to show themselves to visitors. Make sure to check out Temat Rzeka, an epic beach bar that is home to thousands of customers a night and offers such activities as film screenings, beach volleyball and huge beach parties.

Photo by: Warsaw City Break
Photo by: Warsaw City Break

10. Tamariz, Lisbon

Just a half hour train ride away from Lisbon this urban beach is popular with both locals and visitors. The setting here is absolutely beautiful, with 350 meters of beach, sand and open sea. The waters here are calm and tranquil, and the beach is sandy which makes it the perfect family setting. The eastern edge of the beach actually features an ocean swimming pool with slightly warmer temperatures than the sea. Chair rentals can be expensive so many people choose to bring their own along. A beautiful medieval palace overlooks this beach, only adding to its charm and beauty. Plenty of cafes and restaurants are located nearby, making it easy to spend the entire day here.

Tamariz, Lisbon

9. Barceloneta, Barcelona

This exciting city got even better when the Olympics came here in 1992, as it was then that the coastline got a serious makeover. It was decided that the city would open up to the sea and restaurants and public bathhouses were torn down and replaced with first-rate beaches. These sandy beaches were created with beautiful hotels and incredible restaurants lining them and as the years go on, this area only gets better. Day or night, visitors will find the coolest crowds here. There are over 1100 meters of beach to enjoy, along with an abundance of sea activities. One can actually walk to the center of the city via a walkway lined with palm trees, cafes and modern landmarks.

Barceloneta, Barcelona

8. South Bank, London

This sliver of seaside charm is located beside one of the city’s busiest stretches of pavement. This corridor of sand skirts along Queen’s Walk, opposite the Southbank Centre and is full of sand, chairs and beach huts. This isn’t a beach you will want to visit if you are looking for a relaxing time but if you are looking to grab a few cocktails, build a couple sandcastles and take in awesome views of the Thames, this is the place to be. This beach is constantly buzzing all summer long with locals and visitors taking in the concerts, events and exhibitions that happen. Enjoy mingling with others, taking in live shows and soaking in the incredible and lively atmosphere.

Photo by: Southbank Centre
Photo by: Southbank Centre

7. Canary Wharf, London

The people of London and visitors to this city are in for a treat when it comes to urban beaches. The most popular may just be Canary Wharf, a sandy oasis hidden beneath the skyscrapers. The beach is loaded with volleyball courts and the famous KERB food market, where many city slickers head to grab a bite to eat during lunch hours. The beach here is dependent on what events are happening each summer and sand is brought in to create volleyball courts, beach rugby fields and more. Expect something different each time you visit here.

Photo by: Action For Kids
Photo by: Action For Kids

6. Vltava River, Prague

There may be no sea here but that didn’t stop Prague from creating one awesome urban beach on the banks of the Vltava River. With 500 tones of imported sand, over 200 pool chairs and a stunning pool; it’s no wonder locals and visitors flock to this beach. Not just for adults though, this beach has a kid’s playground located directly on it. If you are looking to get some activity in, try your hand at badminton or beach volleyball, with courts located directly on the beach. As the sun sinks and the stars come out this beach transforms into a party, with live music, dancing and special events running all summer long. Open from 10am-112pm daily, there is no bad time to visit this beach as long as the sun is shining.

Photo by: Travel for Senses
Photo by: Travel for Senses

5. Blijburg Aan Zee, Amsterdam

It is Amsterdam’s one true urban beach, complete with a sandy beach and swimming waters. The beach itself is 250 meters long and 40 meters wide and constantly hopping with things to do. The beach is open from June until September, Wednesdays through Sundays. Activities here include brunches on Sundays, kid’s events on the weekends and DJ’s and live bands throughout the months. The food here is absolutely wonderful and much of it is organic and vegetarian. At nighttime there is always a campfire to curl up around and visitors here will enjoy the laid back vibe of the locals. This beach also happens to host a ton of beach parties, windsurfing workshops and a monthly car trunk sale.

Photo by: Citinerary
Photo by: Citinerary

4. The Donauinsel (Danube Island), Vienna

This long narrow island in central Vienna is not just part of the flood protection system but also offers 42 kilometers of beach. In addition to awesome flat beaches with great bathing areas, there are extensive networks of paths for cyclers, joggers and walkers. Barbeque and picnic areas, playing fields, courts for beach volleyball and a variety of restaurants and shops also make up this urban beach stretch. There is no shortage of activities to do and many sports shops have set up along the beach to offer lessons in such water sports as scuba diving and windsurfing. Also located on Danube Island is a nature reserve, home to many plants and animals that depend on the protection.

Photo by: TriVienna
Photo by: TriVienna

3. Badeschiff, Berlin

This urban beach is actually comprised of a few different elements, including an old tug boat that has been converted into a pool during the summer months. Swimmers here can catch a great glimpse of the Berlin skyline and take part in some epic beach parties. The floating pool is connected by a wooden footbridge complete with hammocks to relax in. Beach goers can relax on the fine sand or play beach volleyball at one of the sand courts. The beach bar here is known for offering up a variety of summer cocktails and barbecued foods. Peaceful morning yoga classes are offered here twice a week and weekly open air concerts are a norm during the summer months. A separate area for kids to splash and build sandcastles is located just a stone’s throw away from the main area.

Photo by: Arena Berlin
Photo by: Arena Berlin

2. Paris Plages, France

For just shy of a month in the summer time, the right bank of the Seine from the Louvre to the Pont de Sully is converted into one of the best urban beaches in all of Europe. Sand gets imported into the area, beach chairs are set up, grass is laid down and boardwalk-style cafes and ice-cream sellers set up shop. When the temperature really soars sprinklers are put out as you wouldn’t want to swim in the Seine. Free summertime concerts take place; sporting events are in full swing and everyone who can’t go on vacation flocks to this area to enjoy some sand, sun and relaxation. Entrance to the beach is free and the only thing you will have to worry about is scoring one of the oversized umbrellas to curl up underneath.

Paris Plages, France

1. Brussels’ Beach, Brussels

Every year the banks of the Brussels channel are converted into a real urban beach, complete with imported sand, huts, sun chairs and fountains. This beach only lasts in the hottest months of summer, from July 15th to August 15th and the city goes all out to ensure visitors have the best of times. Activities here range from rowing to soccer to climbing to dancing while the kids will be entertained with magic shows and workshops throughout the day. The nights are meant for adults to kick back and enjoy with an offering of nightly concerts and parties. The city kicks off this month long urban beach with an impressive light and sound show and airs free films throughout the month on the big screen. Join locals and visitors alike at this urban beach, in our opinion, the best in all of Europe.

Photo by: City of Brussels
Photo by: City of Brussels

12 Things to See and Do in Brussels

Although it’s a city with a rich history and a multicultural, multilingual bent, Brussels isn’t exactly high on a lot of people’s bucket lists. In fact, this Belgian town (and indeed, Belgium as a whole) tend to get passed over for more glamorous European destinations. That hasn’t stopped Brussels, Belgium’s capital city, from blooming into a cultural powerhouse. With many museums, a long and turbulent history and a lot of beautiful scenery, both man-made and natural -Brussels has a lot to offer up. If you want to take in a lot of Europe in just a little bit of time or don’t have the funds to do a grand tour of Europe, make Brussels your number one stop. From the medieval to the modern, from fine art to pop art and everything in between, here are just 12 ideas to add to your itinerary as you plan your trip to the de facto capital of the European Union.

12. Tour Mini-Europe Park

Located at the foot of the Atomium in Brussels, Mini-Europe is a park that boasts 1:25 scale maquettes of famous European buildings. If you’ve ever wanted to take a European tour, but don’t have the funds, do it on a smaller scale by visiting Mini-Europe Park!

There are several live action models, including trains, mills, cable cars and an erupting Mount Vesuvius. Approximately 30 European countries are represented in the park, including Italy, Greece, France and England. The park encompasses 2.4 square kilometers and attracts around 350,000 visitors per year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Brussels. The project represents collaboration between Brussels and most of the European countries or regions with replicas, as many of miniatures were financed by their country of origin. The Eiffle Tower, the leaning tower of Pisa and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela are just a few of the famous landmarks recreated in this park.

Lisa A / Shutterstock.com
Lisa A / Shutterstock.com

11. Visit Manneken-Pis

Chances are you’ve heard of, or even seen, Manneken-Pis. This famous sculpture is one of Brussels’s most well-known landmarks and has inspired copycats around the world. Manneken-Pis was first cast in 1388, although the current design of the statue dates to 1619. The current casting dates to 1965, as the statue keeps getting stolen. Manneken-Pis is dressed up in costumes several times a week, according to a schedule, and his wardrobe consists of several hundred outfits.

Not bad for a sculpture of a little boy taking a leak! Yes, the inspiration for all of those “peeing cherub” garden fountain statues you see is Manneken-Pis. There are many legends around this figure, including a popular version that recounts the tale of a visiting merchant who loses his son, only to later find him peeing in a fountain. Other tales include a young lord urinating on an invading army and a boy who, waking up in the night to relieve himself, helps to put out a fire in the king’s castle. Whatever the inspiration, go see Manneken-Pis—before he gets stolen again.

S-F / Shutterstock.com
S-F / Shutterstock.com

10. Cinquantenaire Park

One of the most famous landmarks in Brussels, Cinquantenaire Park, or Jubelpark, was commissioned by King Leopold II for the 50th anniversary of Belgian independence in 1880. The U-shaped complex, including its triumphal arch, dominate the easternmost part of the city’s European Quarter. Today, the area is a public park and a pedestrian square. Once home to a military exercise ground, the area hosts a number of museums and several parades each summer.

Museums in the area include the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, as well as AutoWorld, a museum dedicated to vintage cars; and an art and history museum. There is also a mosque in the area. AutoWorld hosts drive-in movie events in the summer months. Currently, plans to “Europeanize” the park are underway. These plans include the installation of a new metro station and a major socio-cultural center for families. It is hoped that, in the future, the park may host European Congresses and other major European events and exhibitions.

Cinquantenaire Park

9. Make a Pilgrimage to the Cathedral and the Basilica

Brussels is home to a variety of impressive architecture, including medieval buildings such as the St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral. This church, given cathedral status in 1962, may have been begun as early as the 9th century. Over the centuries, various structures and features were added, such as the 2 round towers. Overall, it took about 3 centuries to build the church, which was completed just before the reign of Emperor Charles V began in 1519.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, a much more modern church. Construction began in 1905, when the first stone was laid. Construction was interrupted by both World Wars, and the church was finally completed in 1969. Although the project was originally envisioned as a neo-Gothic church, the project soon incorporated the art deco movement. Today, these 2 churches form prominent parts of the Brussels skyline and are popular destinations for tourists and pilgrims alike.

St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral

8. Learn About Beer at Cantillon Brewery

The Cantillon Brewery is an institution among the craft industries of Brussels. This company, founded over a century ago in 1900, brews traditional Belgian lambic beer. Located in Anderlecht, the brewery still makes its beers in a traditional way, with the only shift being the introduction of organic ingredients in 1999. One of over 100 brewers in 1900, Cantillon remains the only brewer founded in the early 20th century operational in the 21st century.

About half of the brewery’s production is gueze beer, although they also make a number of fruit-flavored beers, such as Rose de Gambrinus and Fou’ Foune. Once a year, the brewery makes kriek and bilberry beer for a shop in Denmark. In 1999 and 2013, Cantillon brewed Soleil de Minuit, made from cloudberries. The brewery is home to the Gueze Museum, which shows the history of Cantillon and gueze production. Sample some beer and learn about how it’s made!

Cantillon Brewery

7. Catch a Football Match

Brussels was home to 3 major football (soccer) clubs: R.S.C. Anderlecht, F.C. Molenbeek Brussels Strombeek (which was rebranded RWDM Brussels FC, just before folding in the 2013-14 season) and Union Saint-Gilloise.

Anderlecht is the most successful Belgian football club, with 33 championship titles in the Belgian league and 5 trophies in major European tournaments. RWDM played in the Second Division, but finished 8th in its final season and folded. Union currently plays in the Third Division; prior to World War II, Union was the most successful Belgian football club. Even with only 2 teams now in the city, Brussels has a long and proud history in football, and catching an Anderlecht or Union match is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening. If you can’t get tickets, no worries – head to a local pub and grab a pint of one of several varieties of Belgian beer as you cheer on the local team surrounded by fans. You won’t regret it!

 (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)
(AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

6. Explore a Museum

With more than 80 museums to explore in the city of Brussels, you can discover art, music, history and more! For those who are interested in food and drink, a visit to the Belgian Brewers Museum or the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate provide great experiences and an opportunity to learn about 2 of humanity’s favorite foods: chocolate and beer. The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History will delight army buffs and war historians, and the National Museum of the Resistance documents the Belgian Resistance during World War II.

If you want to go back a little further, you can check out the city’s Archives or the Archives and Museum of Flemish Life in Brussels. Cinematek documents the history of film and has daily showings from the archives, and the Clockarium is devoted to the faience mantelclock, the first widely affordable timepiece for most Belgian households. The art museums run the gamut, from the fine arts to the Museum of Fantastic Art, which specializes in bizarre sculptures. No matter your interests, there’s a museum to explore!

Royal Museum of the Armed Forces

5. Sample Some Waffles

We know all about Belgian waffles, but to get authenticity for this treat, there’s no better place than Brussels. The waffle is a well-known entry in Brussels fare, which is characterized by a combination of French cuisine and hearty Flemish dishes. The familiar Americanized version known as Belgian waffles are, in fact, a simplified version of the Brussels waffle.

Brussels waffles in particular are prepared with an egg-white or yeast-leavened batter, which makes them lighter and crispier than other European varieties. They are traditionally dusted with confectioner’s sugar and served warm, although toppings in tourist areas include whipped cream, soft fruit or chocolate spreads. Variations on the recipe for Brussels waffles exist, including a whole egg being folded into the batter. Wash down with some beer and enjoy some Belgian chocolate on the side. You won’t have any trouble finding them either; in a city with around 1,800 restaurants and many street vendors, waffles hot off the iron abound!

Belgium waffles

4. Appreciate the Art Nouveau Architecture

While the city center of Brussels is noted for its traditional Flemish townhouses, there are other districts in the city that are renowned for their Art Nouveau architecture. Prominent at the tail end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, this style was a reaction to some of the academic art genres of the 19th century. Particularly striking are the buildings that were designed by architect Victor Horta, a native of Brussels. Horta’s Hotel Tassel was one of the first buildings to apply the ideals of Art Nouveau to architecture.

Examples of Art Noveau architecture can be seen across the city of Brussels, with examples including the districts of Schaerbeek, Etterbeek, Ixelles and Saint-Gilles. The Stoclet Palace, which is in the Vienna Secession style, also represents the art nouveau movement. It was designed by the Viennese architect Josef Hoffman and completed in 1911 for Aldophe Stoclet. It has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com
Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com

3. Go on an Adventure at the Comic Museum

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of the Belgian comic artist Herge. No? Surely The Adventures of Tintin will ring a bell. What about The Smurfs? Both of these internationally beloved comics are Belgian in origin, and they’re celebrated in the comic museum in Brussels. Formally known as the Belgian Comic Strip Center, the museum features several exhibits devoted to Tintin, including life-sized replicas of the characters and sets from Tintin’s adventures. Other genres of comics, including science fiction, wild west, crime, and political comics are also represented. Comics are presented in French, English and Dutch.

The museum also has a shop and a restaurant for visitors, as well as a research library for comic scholars (yes, there is such a thing). The museum, which opened in 1989, is located in a 1906 building that once housed the department store Magasins Waucquez. The store was designed in the art nouveau style by Victor Horta and is located in the business district of Brussels.

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elenaburn / Shutterstock.com

2. Hike Through the Sonian Forest

This Flemish forest lies at the southeastern edge of Brussels. Some of the tracts in the forest belong to the Royal Trust and some tracts are privately held. Overall, the forest comprises over 10,000 acres. The forest is part of the ancient Charcoal Forest. It once extended 7 leagues, but today is about 45 square kilometers.

The forest played a significant role in the Battle of Waterloo, and it has also influenced art and literature, particularly some of the works of Auguste Rodin and Sir Walter Scott. It was also home to several medieval and early modern monasteries. Once exclusively the realm of the nobility of Belgium, the forest is open to the public today. Although its flora and fauna have been reduced, it is home to many species, including European beech and oak, some specimens of which are more than 200 years old. There’s a small chapel near the site of the monastery of John of Ruysbroeck at Groenendaal that serves as a popular visitor site in the woods.

Sonian Forest

1. Take a Tour Through the Royal Palace

The Royal Palace of Brussels is the seat of the Belgian monarchy. The façade was built after 1900 and completed in 1904, although the nucleus of the buildings date to the late 1700s. The site has long been a popular one for palaces; Coudenberg Palace, which dates back to the medieval period, once included the grounds the modern Royal Palace stands on today. The Palace is situated in front of Brussels Park and faces the Palace of the Nation, which houses the Belgian parliament.

The Palace is not a royal residence and instead serves only as a ceremonial headquarters for state functions. Some parts of the palace are open to the public and can be toured, as can some of the grounds. Portions of the old Coudenberg Palace complex are still extant and can be visited. Since 1965, visitors can tour the State Rooms and their impressive art collections, between July 21 and the beginning of September. Other rooms that can be visited include the Mirror Room, the Grand Hall and the famous Large White Room, which is part of the oldest section of the palace.

Royal Palace Brussels

9 Most Unique European Cities

Europe is an amazing continent that features a rich history, varied cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and exciting attractions. It is the second smallest continent, but it is the most visited continent in the world. It is a great place to visit as there is so much to see and do in Europe. If you are going to the continent, here are 9 unique European cities to visit.

1. Venice

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Nicknamed The Floating City, this Italian city is just stunning. You can take a tour of the Grand Canal in a gondola, or you can tour the Doge’s Palace. You can also see the stunning Basilica di San Marco or just wander around St. Mark’s Square. The cuisine is excellent in this romantic city, so enjoying a lavish meal will be easy.

2. Berlin

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Located in Germany, Berlin is home to numerous historical sites, interesting museums, and fascinating art. The city possesses vibrant nightlife and unique restaurants. One of the most sobering places to visit is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

3. Amsterdam

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This charming city in the Netherlands contains a unique culture and friendly people. You can take a scenic bike ride, or you can visit one of the iconic windmills. The city is also home to interesting museums and stunning canals. You will want to make sure you visit the home of Anne Frank.

4. Brussels

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This interesting European city in Belgium is home to amazing chocolates and great beer. You can enjoy a river cruise, view an opera production or visit the Grand Palace. If you enjoy music, you will not want to miss seeing the Musical Instruments Museum. The people of the city speak French, Dutch, and German.

5. Dublin

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This Irish city contains cultural diversity, scrumptious cuisine, historical sites, and excellent shopping opportunities. You can taste a pint of Guinness at the top of the Guinness Brewery that looks over the city. The city also is home to historical statues, bridges, and monuments. You can even take a tour of the city by train.

6. Copenhagen

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Situated in Denmark, Copenhagen is known as one of the cleanest and safest cities on the continent. Water surrounds the city, so you can enjoy cruising down the canal. One of the most popular attractions of the city is Tivoli Gardens. While in the city, you can also visit the Hans Christian Anderson statue, and you can see the magical Rosenborg Slot castle. Copenhagen is home to fascinating museums, magnificent palaces, and stunning scenery.

7. Budapest

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This unique city possesses a worldly charm that will make you feel right at home. The city offers relaxing thermal baths that have been known to possess healing powers. While in the city, you can also enjoy great wine and excellent cuisine. The architecture in Budapest is exquisite, and you can buy home-grown produce at one of the markets. The city features savory sweets if you enjoy desserts, and it is home to some of the most unique hotels in the world.

8. Edinburgh

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Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is home to one of the most unique castles in the world. You can also visit Arthur’s Seat, a summit that sits on top of a volcano. Other Edinburgh attractions include Calton Hill, Museum of Scotland, and Scott Monument. The National Gallery of Scotland is also a great place to visit.

9. Sarajevo

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The city of Sarajevo has had to endure many hardships, but it has survived and is one of the most unique cities in Europe. You can visit Bascarsija Market, and you can browse the National Library. Other attractions include the Romeo and Juliet Bridge, the Sarajevo History Museum, and a fascinating mosque. Regardless of what you choose to do, visiting Sarajevo will be a unique experience.

The 10 Worst Traffic Cities in the World

You probably think your daily commute is bad. Heck, you probably hit the horn and yelled obscenities at fellow commuters this morning, however, consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to battle traffic in the world’s worst traffic-congested cities.

Here are the top 10 worst traffic cities in the world…in a totally chaotic order, of course:

1. Milan, Italy

Consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to contend with more than just cars, trucks, and the occasional motorcycle on the highways. Commuters in Milan have to watch out for cars, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, a multitude of cyclists…and sheep, which and prone to blocking roads in stubborn herds.

2. Detroit, Michigan, USA

It’s not called the “Motor City” for nothing—Detroit is the heart and soul of America’s auto industry, and commuters feel the result of this, spending a good majority of time stuck in traffic jams and inhaling exhaust fumes.

3. London, England

Bonny Londoners might not be so ever tempered when stuck in traffic. And, who can blame them? The city ranked fifth for the nastiest traffic jams in the entire world!

4. Brussels, Belgium

You may feel slightly bunged up after eating the vegetable of the same name, so it’s ironic that the city itself experiences some of the evilest traffic jams around the globe.

5. San Francisco, California, USA

There must be something in the water in San Francisco that causes motorists to suffer an annual average of approximately 50 extra hours wasted in traffic congestion.

6. Paris, France

Oo la la…Paris might be the city of lights and sites, but it’s also the city renowned for traffic “c’est pas terrible!”

7. Dallas, Texas, USA

The southern USA is known for its gracious hospitality, but all bets are off when it comes to merging onto the I-20, I-30, or the I-45—the majorly packed metropolitan freeways in the state.

8. Antwerp, Belgium

Traffic jams in Antwerp are considered the most frustrating in the world, according to a US Inrix traffic survey—where the average commute is known to take 40-percent longer than normal.

9. Los Angeles, California, USA

Sure, the city of angels is known for its beautiful weather, but one doesn’t expect to spend most of their time stuck in traffic.

10. Rotterdam, Netherlands

This huge shopping and tourist metropolis in the Netherlands is known for traffic jams all day, at all times of the day.