Is it safe to travel to Belgium or Europe?

Shocking times. © Anneleen Bouttery.
Shocking times.
© Anneleen Bouttery.

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.

THE FACTS.

A map of Belgium.
A map 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.

Don't reveal police operations on social media!
Don’t reveal police operations on social media!

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 tourists visit Belgium and you're always going to be welcome! ©Augustijn_TCoussement.
Millions of tourists visit Belgium and you’re always going to be welcome!
©Augustijn_TCoussement.

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:

Help others if you can.
Help others if you can.
We're all in shock. Try not to panic!
We’re all in shock. Try not to panic!
  • 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 DeutschlandAuswärtiges 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!

I wanna travel the world with you....
I wanna travel the world with you but I’m scared…

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!

I wish!

My opinions are my own and my own only, however.

However!

I’ll tell you something for nothing.

We Europeans are as stoic as we come.

Roman cohorts at the Varus Battle in Osnabrück. © Tourismusverband Osnabrücker Land e.V.
Roman cohorts at the Varus Battle in Osnabrück.
© Tourismusverband Osnabrücker Land e.V.

Europe is thousands of years old and has been through battles many, many times.

We’re not strangers to attacks.

Or threats.

Or war.

You’ve only got to look through the last century to see that.

The madness of war.
The madness of war.

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!

One day, I'll travel the whole world.
One day, I’ll travel the whole world.

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?

Sure it is. Everyone is welcome!
Sure it is. Everyone is welcome!

Of course!

Crime rates in many countries are low.

Standards of living are high.

Helsinki Monument, Finland. @VisitFinland
Helsinki Monument, Finland.
@VisitFinland

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.

Estonian Young Folk.
Estonian Young Folk.

Social infrastructure works wonderfully and is available to all.

Tolerance is extremely high.

Fairness and truth are important.

At 10 Downing Street in London! Even our local Bobbies don't carry weapons, although they do, outside the Prime-Ministers' house!
At 10 Downing Street in London! Even our local Bobbies don’t carry weapons, although they do, outside the Prime-Ministers’ house!

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!

Horse Carriage in Bruges. ©VisitFlanders.
Horse Carriage in Bruges.
©VisitFlanders.

Let’s talk a little about Belgium.

Because we should.

Belgium officially known as the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in the Western part of Europe unlike Latvia which is in Central Europe or Poland which is in the Eastern part of Europe!

It is bordered between Germany, Holland, France and Luxembourg and has a population of just eleven (11) million people!

Hanswijk procession Musicians, Mechelen. in Belgium. © Jan Smets.
Hanswijk procession Musicians, Mechelen. In Belgium. © Jan Smets.

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?

The Manneken Pis Fountain in Brussels! ©VisitFlanders.
The Manneken Pis Fountain in Brussels!
©VisitFlanders.

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 that has a river running through it and you know how I do love my rivers, brooks and lakes.

TinTin at the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels. ©VisitFlanders
TinTin at the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels.
©VisitFlanders

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.

Waffles! Yeah! ©VisitFlanders.
Waffles! Yeah!
©VisitFlanders.

Brussels is also big on waffles, craft beer, and chocolate.  I don’t really like chocolate so….!

I know!

You’re going to have to explore and discover the chocolate Museum and all its’ delights for yourself!

ANYTHING ELSE!

Mussels, chips and chilled white wine, in Antwerp! © Antwerpen Toerisme en Congres.
Mussels, chips and chilled white wine, in Antwerp!
© Antwerpen Toerisme en Congres.

Yep!

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!

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

Watch this space!

Is it safe to travel to Belgium or Europe?
Is it safe to travel to Belgium or Europe?

Have you ever been to Belgium? Are you frightened of travelling to Brussels, Belgium or anywhere else in Europe?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions or concerns about travelling anywhere in Europe, send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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27 thoughts on “Is it safe to travel to Belgium or Europe?

  1. Belgium is so close to my city, Tilburg. It is so cheap to get there by bus or train. I absolutely love both Antwerp and Brussels. The food! Belgian fries slathered in mayonnaise, the waffles covered in anything: chocolate, strawberries etc, the mussels etc..lets just say that when I get back from London, a trip to Belgium is in order..I’m not scared. Life has to go on..and you’re right, Europe has taken a beating in their past, they’ve come out stronger and stoic. Yes to travel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said! We cannot as a people, and a world, be held hostage to fear. These terrorists are cowards, fanatics, and prey on our fears. What happened in Belgium is sad and my prayers go out to them. Also. let’s not forget the terrorist attack in Pakistan that killed over 60 people, mostly women and children and injured over 300 on Easter. It’s happening everywhere and it’s a sad world we live in, yet we still must go out and explore it all and not just stay in our homes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Phil!
      It’s a very sad state of affairs not just for Belgium, but for us all. In Belgium, France, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon. Everywhere. However, the message of Europe is courage and strength. A stiff upper lip and marching straight ahead with our lives and a way towards some sort of normality. And out that door, and shaking the hand of our neighbour, whoever they may be, we must go.

      We must never let fear take control. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great minds think alike..:-) . I wrote about it too. I guess this is on all our minds, as well it should be. We however, can not let fear win. Life is a lottery, sometimes your number gets drawn. I read about the 19 year old guy who got shrapnel from the blasts at the Brussels airport. He had previously been at the Boston Marathon (no injuries) and the Paris attacks (no injuries). There was also the man who called his family that he had survived the airport blasts, only to take the metro and got killed there. I always say.. “Death comes to those who wait, death comes to those who don’t wait. Death just comes.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much KemKem!
      Aha! I haven’t seen it yet but yes. Great minds always think alike lol. And I expect to see more of the same from every direction.
      I remember you telling me about the shrapnel guy. A very lucky guy and indeed, it wasn’t his time. I like your saying and the saying of the Reaper Man in the Discworld – “If people knew when they were going to die, I think they probably wouldn’t live at all” so live we must. And we should. 🙂
      ― Terry Pratchett.

      Like

  4. Amen amen amen to all of this. All of these attacks in different areas of the world can make one feel like they have to hide in their home. I guess I am lucky that I go completely stir-crazy if I am stuck in the house for a whole day. I will keep traveling, and loving, and spending my hard earned money on seeing new places and experiencing new things. I was just in Bangkok and stopped by the Erawan Shrine where a bomb was exploded in the last 6 months or so. And I loved seeing that it was busy and still popular.
    We win against these crazy and hateful people when we go on about our lives WITHOUT fearing them. Thanks for writing this Victoria! Got me ranting and raging. Haha. xoxox, Jenny

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tell me about it Jenny! It’s disconcerting yes. But will it make us lie frightened behind locked doors and shiver in our beds? Absolutely not! We’ll shoulder on and live our lives to the best of our ability, and as full as we can!
      I’m sorry to hear about the bombings in Bangkok. Sadly, it’s becoming all the norm that one thing or the other, makes people lose their cool. But has it made us stop vising Thailand? Not in the least! Rant and Rage Jenny. Rant and Rage. 🙂 🙂
      p.s. ‘Love the fact that you had such an amazing time in Bangkok. I so miss that place. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This was such a vital need of the hour! thank you for this, from everybody who did not know whom to ask or what to think in the face of all the strange things that are happening in the world right now…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Asthaguptaa!
      It’s the bravery and courage of the people of Belgium and Brussels who are the true heroes, but I’m happy that I could do my bit to inform my readers and anyone else, of where to find correct, unbiased information, at this most difficult time.
      If you have any questions about anywhere in Europe, dont hesitate to ask. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A brilliant, rational, balanced post. You’re so right, we shouldn’t let fear take control and we certainly shouldn’t let these horrific acts stop us from travelling, living and enjoying the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Amy!
      Totally! Baby steps. Living our lives and travelling to understand the life and culture of others is the best way forward. Staying cooped up will only increase the fear, rather than decrease it!
      ‘Hope you’re enjoying Spain as we just got back….! 🙂

      Like

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