The Benelux Countries

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Benelux is an economic union of three neighbouring monarchies – Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Despite long-standing ties, each country’s capital exudes its own unique charms. Amsterdam Amsterdam is a freewheeling open city with splendid architecture, lovely tree-lined canals , wonderful shopping, and friendly people. Transport:getting there and getting away: Schiphol airport is one of the world’s biggest and offers extensive connections. Buses are economical and the train is very pleasant with direct connections to the UK. There are also ferries the UK and Norway. Cycling is the best way to get around Amsterdam. Walking is fine too as the city is compact. However Amsterdam offers an efficient public transport system covering most of the city. Trams are good for the inner city. Central Station is the city’s transport hub where tram, bus, train and metro lines converge. Climate: Amsterdam’s delightful summers transforms it into a city of outdoor living. Winters, in contrast, are utterly miserable with cascading rain. Spring is wet but a time when the city’s flora spring into colourful life. Accommodation: from cheap stays to luxury resorts Check on the internet for the range, location and cost of Amsterdam hotels Events:what’s on and what’s hot Events Overview * The Silent Procession in March is a festival in which Catholics walk along the Holy Way in commemoration of the Miracle of Amsterdam. *Queen’s Day on 30 April sees a free market, street parties, live music. *National Windmill Day is in May. *The the country’s biggest arts festival is the Holland Festival which runs throughout June. *September is the time of the Flower Parade *Traditional Dutch Christmas is held on 6 December. Brussels Brussels is best known for its status as main headquarters of the European Union and NATO. But there’s much more to the city than meeting halls and bureaucrats. Brussels radiates a vibrant sophisticated feel reflected in its museums and art galleries. It’s a hedonistic city too with a propensity for seafood, waffles, chocolate, truffles and foaming steins of good beer. Transport:getting there and getting away Brussels’ main airport is Zaventem. A train makes the 25-minute run into the city every 15 minutes. Buses and taxis and also available. Brussels has two main train stations: Bruxelles Midi-Brussel Zuid, to the south of the city core, and Bruxelles Central-Brussel Centraal, which is right next to the city centre. High speed Thalys trains connect Brussels with Cologne, Paris, and Amsterdam. Eurolines offers bus travel to Brussels from London Victoria. Getting around Brussels is easy. The city has 3 metro lines, many buses and several tram lines. Brussels also introduced short-term “CycloCity” rentals in 2006. But bear in mind that Brussels has many hills. Climate: Brussels is prone to grey, rainy weather. The warmest months are July and August then the temperature averages 22’C. Summer can be the wettest season though. Winter from November to March is a miserable time with the temperature around freezing and lashings of slush and sleet. Accommodation:from cheap stays to luxury resorts Check on the internet for the range, location and cost of Brussels hotels Events:what’s on and what’s hot * Ommegang in July is a medieval-style procession within the illuminated Grand Place. * August (even-numbered years) sees the flower carpet. * The city swings at the annual Brussels Jazz Marathon (last weekend in May). * The Grand Place, together with the Sablon and Place Ste Catherine, feature free al fresco concerts throughout the summer. Luxembourg Luxembourg seems a fairy tale kingdom with its quaint hamlets, green countryside and silver rivers. A landlocked country between Belgium, France and Germany, Luxembourg is the world’s only Grand Duchy and one of the world’s smallest countries. Transport:getting there and getting away Luxembourg International Airport is about four miles outside the city. Flights connect with London, Paris, Amsterdam, Z’rich, and Frankfurt. You can reach Luxembourg by train from Paris, Metz, Brussels and Trier. Motorways from Metz, Brussels and Trier connect to the ring-road around Luxembourg City. The city has a bus service most of which include the central bus station Hamilius and the Station in their routes. Bus tickets are bought from the driver. Luxembourg is well suited for biking. Climate: Winters are relatively mild in Luxembourg though January and February can get very cold. The summer tends to get very hot with the mercury in July and August reaching around 35 C. Spring and autumn are delightful though rain is frequent. Accommodation:from cheap stays to luxury resorts Check on the internet for the range, location and cost of Luxembourg hotels. Events:what’s on and what’s hot *The birthday of the Grand Duchess on 23 January 23 is celebrated with parades and fireworks. *Burgsonndeg on 28 February celebrates the end of winter. *National Day on 23 June celebrates the grand duke’s birthday. *Liberation Day on 9 September commemorates liberation by the Allies in 1945. ? The Benelux Countries


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