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Belgian F1 Grand Prix - 2014

Belgium - General Information Guide

Belgium Overview

There's just something about Belgium. Maybe it's the friendly and welcoming people who with three official languages still find it easy to converse in English, the 4th unofficial language. Maybe it's the stunning architecture decorating the quaint cobblestone squares. Or perhaps it's the incredible cuisine found in the vast array of restaurants where each meal seems better than the last. Energetic and carefree, the overall mood in Belgium is infectious, summoning in all of us to live as Belgians, enjoy life to the fullest and of course their world famous beer.

Capital Of Belgium

Brussels.

The People

10,364,000 - Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%

Language

Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)

Religion Of Belgium

Belgium is a multi-religious country; Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25%.

Climate

Belgium has a varied climate from day to day, but that is quite similar across the country. Rainfall is mild and fairly consistent throughout the year. Summer has the most pleasant conditions with days averaging in the low 20°C and a decent amount of sunlight. Winters are mostly overcast and, apart from the coast which experiences slightly milder winters, are generally frosty, often dropping a couple of degrees below zero.

Time

GMT/UTC +1

Entry Requirements

Passports
Passports valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay required by all except: (a) nationals of EU countries with a valid national ID card (except for nationals of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK, who always require a valid passport);
(b) nationals of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Switzerland, in possession of a national ID card.
(c) nationals of Andorra, Austria, France, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Portugal, San Marino, Spain and Sweden with passports expired up to five years previously;
(d) nationals of Belgium with a passport expired up to one year previously.

Visas
Required by all except the following for stays of no more than three months within a six-month period:
(a) nationals referred to in the chart and under passport exemptions above;
(b) nationals of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, holders of BNO (British National Overseas) passports and 'look-alike' passport holders of British Overseas Territories (except Gribraltar), plus British Indian Ocean Territory, Henderson Islands, Pitcairn, Ducie Oeno and the St Helen Islands and dependencies, Brunei, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong (SAR), Iceland, Israel, Korea (Rep), Macau (SAR), Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Romania, Singapore, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela;
(c) nationals remaining within the airport on transit, except for the following nationals, who always require an Airport Transit visa: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Congo (Dem Rep), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey, if not possessing a valid residence permit for the EU member states or Andorra, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland or the USA.

Belgium Currency

The Euro is the official currency of the 12 EU member states (including Belgium).
Notes are in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 euro.
Coins are in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cent.
There are no restrictions on the import or export of either local or foreign currency.

Credit Cards And Travellers Cheques

Credit cards
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted as well as Eurocheque cards. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services, which may be available. ATM's are widespread.

Traveller's cheques
Widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.

Banking Hours

Banks are open Monday through Friday, 9:00am - 4:00pm and are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. Some banks close for an hour during lunch.

Water

The drinking of bottled water is advisable.

Eating In Belgium

Belgian cuisine is similar to French, based on game and seafood. Each region in Belgium has its own special dish. Butter, cream, beer and wine are generously used in cooking.

National specialties include:

  • Mussels and chips.
  • Endives with Bechamel sauce.
  • Ardennes sausages and ham are also renowned.
  • Belgian chocolate. Waffles.

There are over 400 beers brewed in Belgium, ranging from lagers and pilsners through to Lambic, made from wheat and barley, white and fruit beers, to Trappist monastery beers. Fruit beers, such as Kriek cherry beer, are a specialty. Famous names include Stella Artois, Leffe, Hoegaarden, Duvel and Chimay.

Shopping

Special purchases include ceramics and hand-beaten copperware from Dinant; Belgian chocolates; crystals from Val Saint Lambert; diamonds; jewelry from Antwerp; lace from Bruges, Brussels and Mechelen, woodcarvings from Spa and bandes dessinées (comic-strip books) by a number of talented Belgian cartoon artists from Brussels. Main shopping centers are located in Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Liège, Mechelen, Mons, Namur and Ostend.

Shopping Hours

Store hours: Monday - Saturday, 10:00am - 6:00pm. Stores are closed on Sundays except in Brussels at the Gallerie St Hubert and gift shops near the Grand Place.

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