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Brussels has three main stations: Brussels-South (Gare du Midi), which operated high speed services; Brussels-Centre (Centrale), the underground station for city lines; Brussels-North (Gare du Nord) with metro and tram lines. Trains between Ebbsfleet and Brussels run around 9 times a day Monday-Friday, and 11 times a day Saturdays and Sundays.
Eurostar trains between Ebbsfleet International and Brussels have average journey times of 1 hour, 41 minute; the route passes through Lille. Highspeed rail is popular, because the Belgian domestic rail network is so well-developed that visitors can reach any Belgian city via train. The best time to visit is either early or late summer, so visitors can appreciate the many outdoor dining and sightseeing opportunities.
Brussels is the unofficial capital city of the European Union (EU) and the largest urban area in Belgium. It is made of 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels proper, which is the capital of Belgium, Flanders and the French Community of Belgium. Brussels was originally a 10th-century fortress town. The metropolitan area has a population of over 1.8 million, making it the largest in Belgium. Since the end of the Second World War; it has been an important centre for international politics.
Linguistic tensions between French and Flemish are prominent here, and the language laws of the areas surrounding Brussels are an issue of much controversy in Belgium. Brussels is a famous European tourist attraction made more accessible by the Eurostar from Lille in France, Ashford, Ebbsfleet and St Pancras in London.
The city is too large to see on foot, so day travel cards are available for public transport. Most major credit cards are accepted throughout, and money exchange booths are available for tourists; at the Bureau of Tourism additional information and “beer maps” can be purchased.
The average price of a 25cl measure of beer is around 1€20 towards the outskirts of the city, but this can easily be double in the Grand’ Place and surrounding areas. It is more expensive than many other European cities as the 21st most expensive city, but renowned for its many excellent restaurants and bars. Being a student city, a lot of good nightlife is available- clubs in Brussels tend to open after about 11 and shut about 6am.
Points of interest
Le Salon de la Gourmandise where visitors can sample fine dining, cuisine by guest-star chefs and cookbooks in the grand Bourse de Bruxelles
The Grand'Place cafés- fresh moules-frites (mussel delicacy) are served here in a relaxing environment
Le Café des Spores- savour chanterelles, death trumpet, porcini and many other types of mushroom in the specialist restaurant. The wine list is impressive, and staff are available to help visitors complement their dishes.
The Rue Neuve is the main shopping street, with mainly international chain stores.
Designer shops and boutiques are mainly found in the Avenue Louise and Boulevard de Waterloo areas, Place Stephanie, Place du Grand Sablon and on Rue Antoine Dansaert.
Speciality shops and markets can be seen all over the city.
Discotheques- the largest is Fuse, where world-famous djs have performed sets in the past.
Place Saint-Géry- the fashionable area of downtown Brussels. The Mappa Mundo is famous for its attractive clientele; the Halles Saint-Géry is also renowned for its neo-renaissance architecture; Prado, the latest Spanish-themed venue on the square.
Gay bars and clubs- popular with both gay and straight crowds.
Nightclubs- these are usually near the red light districs. Studio 44- “ the Uptown Club”, attracts a very diverse crowd.
Music bars and cafés- jazz clubs are very popular in Brussels, such as Archiduc- showing the best of Belgian Jazz in a 1930s-inspired setting, some of it original. On Saturdays, 'Jazz After Shopping' runs in the afternoon and early evening.
Christmas markets- from the end of November to the beginning of January, there is a Christmas market and public ice rink in the heart of Brussels with wide varieties of goods to purchase.
Destinations from Ebbsfleet
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