Bruges, Venice of the north

bruges
Bruges (read here other news) in Belgium is known as the ‘Venice of the North’ because of its many canals and is a Unesco World Heritage Site as much of its medieval architecture remains intact.

The city is beautiful to walk around in. Among its main sites is the Church of Our Lady with its outstanding brick tower. The church is home to the sculpture Madonna and Child which is thought to be the only Michelangelo sculpture that left Italy in his lifetime.

The city’s most famous landmark is the 13th-century belfry with a carillon of 48 bells. Other notable sites worth visiting are the Beguinage, Basilica of the Holy Blood, Saint Salvator’s Cathedral, the Groeningemuseum, City Hall on the Burg square, and the Provincial Court.

Bruges is also home to a number of festivals including the European Youth Film Festival of Flanders and the September Jazz Festival.

The city is served by the Bruges National Airport and the railway provides connections to other cities in Belgium as well as The Netherlands and France.

Belgium is famous for its waffles, fries, and beer and the Markt place is a good place to go to have a drink. The 3 star Michelin restaurant De Karmeliet is expensive but the meals are tasty while Den Dyver is less expensive but also good.

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St. Martin, a double dose of delight

St_maarten
The island of St. Martin in the Caribbean is unique. It is the smallest island in the world that is governed by two sovereign nations.

One side of the island is ruled by the Kingdom of The Netherlands and is called Sint Maarten while the other is governed by France and is known as St. Martin. It is the only land border shared by those two nations anywhere in the world.

The Dutch side’s main city is Phillipsburg while the French side’s capital is Marigot. The island is served by one airport – the Princess Juliana International Airport.

The island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten is hilly and tends to by dry. Like most of the other islands in the Caribbean it has a dry season from December to April and a wet season from June to November.

The Dutch side of the island is quite festive. A cruise ship port sits in Great Bay near Phillipsburg and tourists can enjoy fine restaurants serving French, Chinese, and Indonesian cuisine.

There are also loads of little shops where interesting jewellery and clothing can be purchased. The € is the unit of currency on the French side while the guilder is used on the Dutch side.

The main languages spoken here are English, Dutch, and Papiamento. French is the main language spoken in the other half of the island. Here is like a little slice of France in the Caribbean with exotic boutiques, cafes and patisseries all around the narrow streets. Duty free shopping with high-end brands makes St. Martin very attractive to visitors.

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