The citizens of Belgium are in a state of shock.
The world is in a terrible state.
Our sympathies and condolences are with the people, family and friends of Belgium.
There were explosions at Zaventem International Airport and Maalbeek station in Brussels on 22nd March, 2016.
On 24th March 2016, the Belgian threat level was changed to Level 3. Police operations are ongoing.
There have been a number of police raids and arrests in the Brussels region and other Belgian cities in recent weeks.
Belgian security operations are likely to be carried out at short notice. If you’re in an affected area you should follow the instructions of the Belgian security authorities.
Police have asked the public not to comment on police operations on social media.
Public events and busy public areas across Belgium are likely to see additional security and some public events and tourists attractions, might be cancelled or closed. The general advice is to contact event organisers for information on whether specific events are going ahead.
I’M IN BELGIUM WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Millions of international tourists and travellers visit Belgium every year, and most visits are completely and utterly trouble-free.
The official advice if you’re in Belgium or about to travel to Belgium, is to remain vigilant, stay away from crowded places, and follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities.
However, if you have any concerns, or need help, or information, I recommend the following:
- If you’re in Belgium and you need to contact emergency services, call 112.
- The Belgian Crisis Centre website in Dutch, French and German, but I found an English site too.
- There’s also a Twitter feed.
- For information on flights to and from Brussels airport, contact your airline or travel company.
- Check the Brussels airport website.
- Check the Brussels airport Twitter handle.
- For rail services contact the Belgian Railway in English, German, French and Dutch.
- For the Belgian public transport network and travel planner in English, German, French and Dutch.
- For the Brussels public transport network and travel planner in English, French and Dutch.
- If you’re anywhere near the former World War II battlefields, and you see anything that looks like a shell or munition, don’t panic! Move away from the site and call the police emergency number 112. Stay on the footpath and exercise caution.
- Stay away from large crowds.
- Don’t leave bags or baggages unattended. Take care of your belongings and passports at all airports and train stations in Brussels and elsewhere.
- Remain vigilant but don’t go crazy and finger-point at random innocent people, going about their business.
- Follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities.
- Allow extra time for your journey due to increased security measures at airports, important train stations and international borders.
- If you’re British, contact GOV.UK for foreign travel advice to Belgium or any other country!
- If you’re German, contact the Außenministerium der Bundesrepublik Deutschland – Auswärtiges Amt über Belgian oder Andere Länder.
- If you’re American, contact the Embassy of the United States in Belgium.
- Take out travel and medical insurance BEFORE you travel.
I’m a British person and I live in Europe. People are asking me one very important question:
I’M SCARED TO TRAVEL ABROAD!
You don’t need to be.
Let me clear, my blog is not about political affairs and neither am I a politician, a civil servant, or a secret agent!
My opinions are my own and my own only, however.
I’ll tell you something for nothing.
We Europeans are as stoic as we come.
Europe is thousands of years old and has been through battles many, many times.
We’re not strangers to attacks.
You’ve only got to look through the last century to see that.
Britain has been blighted by the IRA in Ireland for years, and tourists still love to come to the UK.
Spain has had train explosions from people fighting for the seperation of the Basque Region from the country, and tourists still love to visit Spain.
Heck! World War II was started by a madman from Austria, who terrorised the whole continent by his fantasy of German supremacy. Not to talk of the Berlin Wall that was to divide a nation for 38 years, and tourists still love to come to Germany too!
The point I’m trying to make is:
DON’T LET FEAR TAKE CONTROL!
Walk outside your front door.
Drive your car.
Get on that train.
Take a flight.
Sail on a ship.
Take a step at a time.
Don’t let fear take control!
IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO EUROPE OR BELGIUM?
Crime rates in many countries are low.
Standards of living are high.
Education is free, therefore literacy is high.
Many Europeans speak at least three languages.
There is social security, therefore the social gap is lower than outside the European continent.
Health and health insurance is taken seriously and in many cases, is the law.
Social infrastructure works wonderfully and is available to all.
Tolerance is extremely high.
Fairness and truth are important.
Ordinary people don’t carry weapons of any kind. There isn’t a need to!
They say that most accidents and deaths occur near to, or in the home. Statistically, you’re safer outside your home!
And if you’re still not sure take a peep.
THIS IS BELGIUM!
Let’s talk a little about Belgium.
Because we should.
It is bordered between Germany, Holland, France and Luxembourg and has a population of just eleven (11) million people!
Culturally, Belgium is Dutch-speaking, French-speaking and if it couldn’t get more complicated, German-speaking too!
The Dutch-speakers tend to be Flemish comprising 59% of the population, the French-speakers are Walloon comprising of 41% of the population and the German-speakers are the minority, who live around the borders surrounding Germany!
Officially, Belgium is, like Canada, officially bilingual being Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and French and known as being from the Low Countries, or the Benelux group of states, consisting of Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium itself.
Belgium was a Roman province known as Gallia Belgica and was a prosperous centre of business, commerce, trade and culture from the Middle Ages right up to the 17th century.
In 1830, Belgium spilt off from Holland and became independent in its own right, and during the 20th century participated in the colonization of the African continent, as well as itself being occupied by Germany in WWI and WWII.
SO WHAT’S BRUSSELS ALL ABOUT THEN?
Well, Brussel is the capital of Belgium.
The last time I was there was really for a long weekend where I spent all my time rambling but that was years ago! You know how I love strolling along cobbled stones of yore, and poking my nose into every nook and cranny. Belgium does that for you.
It’s also a city of history and culture so I spent quite some considerable time going to galleries and museums as I like Old Art, architectural treasures, Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings.
Brussels also has Contemporary Art in spades too, as you only have to look at Belgiums’ most famous comic strip artist who wrote the amazing stories and adventures of TinTin to realize that art and culture is all around.
Brussels is also big on waffles, craft beer, and chocolate. I don’t really like chocolate so….!
You’re going to have to explore and discover the chocolate Museum and all its’ delights for yourself!
Crispy Belgium frites and mussels cooked in exquisite white wine are to die for.
Go see for yourself.
This article isn’t sponsored and even though it saddens me that I even had to write it at all, opinions, thoughts and ideas, are my very own!
Watch this space!
Have you ever been to Belgium? Are you frightened of travelling to Brussels, Belgium or anywhere else in Europe?
See you in Berlin.