Top Ten Things to do in Belgium

Belgium is home to medieval cities, cathedrals, palaces, abbeys, forests, and many historical sites.  Brugge and Ghent have been preserved over the centuries, and are beautiful to visit.  Brussels and Antwerp have a more modern feel.  Brussels has art deco architecture and grand squares to enjoy, while Antwerp has stores that appeal to luxury shoppers.

I have compiled a list of the top ten things to do while in Belgium.

(Courtesy of Shutterstock)

  1. Royal Palace of Brussels is the official palace of the king and the queen, although they live in the Royal Palace of Laeken just outside of Brussels.  The palace is along Paleizenplein, and close by Brussels Park.  Items belonging to Napoleon, King Louis Phillipe, Leopold I, and Leopold II are in the Royal Palace.  During the summer the palace opens to visitors, who are allowed to view select rooms.
  2. Grand Place is a city square in central Brussels.  It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and many historical events have happened here.
  3. Atomium is an iconic structure and a symbol of Brussels.
  4. Gravensteen is an amazing castle in Ghent.  You won't want to miss seeing this.
  5. Groeningemuseum is a museum in Bruges.  It is located on the site of the medieval Eekhout Abbey.  This museum includes Renaissance, Baroque, as well as modern masterpieces.
  6. Basilica of the Holy Blood is a Roman Catholic basilica located in Bruges.  It was built in the 12th century and is amazing to behold.
  7. Museum Mayer van den Bergh is located in Antwerp.  It features the collection of the late art collector Fritz Mayer van den Bergh.  The museum includes Renaissance and Gothic pieces from Belgium and the Netherlands.  Artists showcased here include Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Master Heinrich of Constanch, and Pieter Huys.
  8. Museum aan de Stroom is the largest museum in Antwerp.  It is on the banks of the Scheldt River and features postmodern art deco architecture.
  9. Pairi Daiza is a zoo and botanical garden in Brugelette.  It has some unique exhibits.  Algoa Bay has seals and penguins; and La Terre du Froid has reindeer, raccoons, and a train museum.  Pandas on loan from China can also be seen here.  A steam train takes patrons around the zoo and provides wonderful views of the exhibits and the zoo's large lakes.
  10. Zeebrugge is a village on the Belgian coast.  It is along the North Sea.  This seaside village has quaint cafes and beautiful beaches.

My Bucket List for Greece

Hello again!

I don't know if you know anything about Greece, beyond the fact that it is comprised of several islands, but there is so much to see in a location that has mythological, archeological, historic, artistic, and philosophic influences.  So are you planning your trip to Greece and wondering what you should do there?  Well keep reading to find out what is on my bucket list for when I finally go to Greece.

  • Visit Santorini.  The architecture here, with the white buildings with blue rooftops is amazing!!!  With buildings that contrast so well with the sea, it is no wonder people flock to Santorini to enjoy a view whose formations was aided by the help of a volcano.

(Courtesy of USA Today)

  • Tour the Acropolis.  The Acropolis used to be the site of the famous statue of Athena, goddess of Athens.  The columns and the glittering marble of the Parthenon are a sight to behold.
  • Climb Mount Olympus.  If Greek mythology fascinates you then you won't want to miss coming here.  Mythology asserts that Zeus' throne was here, and this is also where Hades ruled in the Underworld.  Few places are as steeped in mythology as Mount Olympus is.
  • Visit Lake Plastira.  Lake Plastira is surrounded by trees and offers activities such as, rafting, canoeing, hiking, and horse rides.
  • Wander around the Acropolis Museum.  The museum is known for its cafe and terrace that overlooks the Acropolis.
  • Tour Epidaurus Theater.  This theater is dedicated to the god of medicine, Asclepius.
  • Visit the Delphi.  People used to travel here to pay homage to Apollo, god of healing, music, prophecy, and light.  Today there are temples and ancient ruins.
  • Hike the Samaria Gorge.  This site is on the island of Crete and is a stunning site to behold.
  • Spelunking at Melissani Cave.
  • Head to Hephaestus Temple.  This temple is dedicated to Hephaestus, god of fire, and Athena, goddess of pottery and other crafts.
  • Visit Corinth Canal.  Here you can go on the Zulu Bungy Jump to see the canal in all its majesty.
  • Travel to the monasteries of Meteora.  These monasteries are atop of rock formations.
  • Take in the history when you visit Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.
  • See the sites in ancient Corinth.
  • Visit Phaestos and enjoy the stunning vistas it has to offer.
  • Travel to Ancient Mycenae.  This location is famous due to Homer's the Iliad and the Odyssey.  Sites to see in the area include Agamemnon Palace, Lion Gate, the Great Court, and the royal cemetery.
  • Learn more about the Holocaust at Museum Of The Kalavryta Holocaust.  This is the only Holocaust museum in Greece; it honors those who were victims of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis.
  • Travel to Mount Athos.  20 monasteries can be seen on its slopes; but the monasteries can only be visited by men.
  • Visit the Palace of Malia.
  • Enjoy Balos Beach.  Spend some time surfing here or explore the many lagoons that open up to jet blue water where fish can be seen.  Sunbathing is also a popular past time here.
  • Go to Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil.
  • Wander around the Museum of Contemporary Art.  In a country so full of ancient history, it is fun to see more modern works.
  • Enjoy time sunbathing at Psarou Beach.  This beach, in Mykonos, is one of the most famous, and has many restaurants along the beach.
  • Visit the Vergina Royal Tombs Museum.  Phillip II tomb is here, as well as items he was buried with.
  • Hike Corfu Trail.  The landscape and views along this trail are breathtaking.

My Italian Bucket List

My "Bucket List" of things to do in Italy!

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  • Throw a coin in Trevi Fountain for luck/wish to return.
  • Visit Vatican City -- There is so much to do in Vatican City.  The Pope offers a blessing one day a week, St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and museums are some of the offerings available at Vatican City.
  • Tour the Colosseum -- There are tours that explain all about the bloody history of the Colosseum.
  • Walk around Campo de Fiori -- Campo de Fiori has an amazing farmer's market.  The food and flowers are a sight to behold.
  • Head to the Spanish Steps.
  • Watch people in Piazza Navona.
  • See the Cinque Terre -- Cinque Terre is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.  They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Cinque Terre is connected by trains and boats, and inaccessible by car.
  • Take a Gondola ride in Venice -- Snuggle up with your significant other and enjoy a romantic evening ride to see Venice all lit up.
  • Visit St. Mark's and watch people in the square.
  • Head to the Bridge of Sighs -- Rialto Bridge is a popular tourist spot.
  • Take a day trip to Murano/Burano -- Murano is known for its glass; and Burano is known for its lace.
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  • Drive along the Tuscan countryside to view the wildflowers, including poppies.
  • Visit the David -- The David is a marble masterpiece created by Michelangelo.
  • Tour Uffizi -- Uffizi holds priceless collections from the Italian Renaissance.
  • Take a walk to Ponte Vecchio.
  • Get a picture in Pisa and enjoy the sights -- The Tower was spared from a WWII artillery strike because a US sergeant was impressed by the beauty.  There is also a cathedral by the Tower.
  • Visit vineyards in the Tuscan region.
  • Walk around San Gimignano -- San Gimignano is known for its Medieval towers.
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  • Visit Civita di Bagnoregio -- Erosion has altered this town over the centuries; and Civita di Bagnoregio owes the unchanged nature of the town to its isolation.  The population surges to 100 during the summer, from around 10 during winter time.
  • Take in the views from Mole Antonelliana (in Turin).
  • Enjoy Lake Como -- The Huffington Post has called it the most beautiful lake in the world.
  • Visit the Duomo (in Milan).
  • View, or ski, the Italian Alps.
  • Head to Juliet's house in Verona.
  • Take in the landscape in Umbria.
  • Walk around Positano -- Positano is a beautiful area on the Amalfi Coast, and is close to many beaches on the Amalfi Coast.
  • Visit Mount Etna in Sicily -- Sicily also has several beaches, popular Palermo, and Valley of the Temples.
  • Head to see Pompeii ruins -- Pompeii was covered in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Eat pizza in Naples.
  • Enjoy some gelato.

Hope you enjoy Italy,
Marianne