Visiting Brussels? An Introduction To Travelling To The Heart Of Europes Charming Capital City

BrusselsTagged as the capital of Europe, Brussels boasts a number of attractions to lure the most fussy of travelers. From fine dining and quaint architecture to a vibrant nightlife and it’s many landmarks, there’s something to appeal to everyone in Brussels.

Look around the streets of Brussels and you’ll see people from a wide variety of backgrounds and culture – a testimony to the cosmopolitan nature of the city. Aside from the many ex-pats posted here from around the world, Brussels also plays host to immigrants from Turkey, Greece and North Africa.

The dominant language in Brussels is French, but Flemish is also spoken in certain pockets of the city as is a unique mix of the two languages (called Marollien or Brusselse Sproek).

So what’s Brussels characterized by?

– Fine food and tasty beers. You can’t help but be impressed by the wide variety of food options open to the Brussels visitor. The national dish is “moules et frites” and must be sampled but the city also offers a magnificent choice of ethnic foods including Turkish, Chinese, Moroccan, Vietnamese, Tunisian, Italian and more.

Brussels– The vibrant “Grand-Place” is the very heart of Brussels and should be the first port of call for the newly arrived visitor. Many believe it to be among the finest town squares to be found anywhere in the world.

– Brussels is the EU capital, and as such is the location of an increasing number of European Union buildings.

– Brussels gave birth to the “art nouveau” architectural movement in the late 1890’s. This was to spread to many other countries who embraced the bold new combination of materials such as stone, iron and exquisite tiles. Some examples of famous landmarks you can visit that are a testimony to the movement are the Hotels Metropole & Solvay, Musee horta and Maison Saint Cyr. The Art Nouveau movement was spearheaded by Belgian architects Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde.

– Lovers of architecture, museums and cathedrals will be satisfied by the good mix on display. Aside from the wide range of museums, there’s the “Cathedrale des Sts Michel et Gudule” who’s origins can be traced back to 1072.

– Chocolate. Belgian chocolate is reputed to be the best in the world and Brussels offers many chocolate shops where you can stock up on fine chocolate to take home.

Whether you come to Brussels for the culture, architecture or just the heavenly chocolate, you’re certain to have an enjoyable time.

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5 Vacation-Crushing Hidden Costs in Your Rental Car Contract

Hidden Rental Car CostsWhether you’re renting a car for business or you’ve planned an annual vacation with the kids, the logistics of getting to and from your destination is the last thing you want to think about when traveling. Hidden fees and surprise travel costs can ruin the most meticulously planned vacation, but you can protect yourself by being an informed traveler and doing your homework before you depart.
Here are 5 of the most devastating hidden costs to look for in your rental car contract. Double-check these items to make sure that you’re protected and your next vacation will stay on budget:

 

Driver fees
While you may already know that you will have to pay extra if you plan to have more than one driver pilot your rental car, you might not be aware that many car rental companies will charge an additional fee when renting a car to drivers under 25 or to senior drivers. This fee applies if the primary driver is young or old, but it can also be charged if additional drivers on your contract (one of your children, for instance) fall outside the rental company’s preferred driver age. Often listed on your contract as an “additional driver fee,” a “young driver surcharge” or a “senior driver fee,” you can sidestep this charge by planning to have only one driver on your trip. Rental car age restrictions can vary by country too – if you’re traveling abroad make sure that you double-check the particular age restrictions in your destination.

Fuel Policies
While almost everyone is aware that returning your car full or empty matters, it’s important to know what to look for when you check the terms of your rental car contract to avoid extra charges. Often listed in the terms of your contract as “Full to Full” or “Full to Empty” – ignoring the details of your fuel policy can result in costly surprise charges to your credit card after you’ve returned home. All rental car companies will charge a premium for any type of fuel – generally using the highest per-gallon cost in the area. To avoid surprise charges request (and verify that you’ve received) the “Full to Full” policy in your contract and fill your car with gas just before returning it. It’s a good idea to save this timestamped receipt just in case!

Location Surcharges
Where you’re going and when and where you pick up your car can make a difference. Today’s traveler can expect to pay extra for on-site pick-up at an airport – the cost of convenience. The lines “Airport Surcharge,” “Rail Station Surcharge,” and “Premium Location Surcharge” are becoming the industry standard on rental car contracts and while this cost is often about the same as the cost of hiring a cab to take you to an in-town rental car lot, comparing the costs at different offices in your destination will allow you to make an informed decision about whether the convenience is worth the price. Taking this extra step can, at the very least, prevent you from being surprised upon arrival.
A delayed flight can also cause headaches and surprise costs. “Out of Hours Fees,” “Late Arrival Fees” and “Late Return Fees” can quickly break a tight vacation budget, but sometimes these costs can be avoided by calling ahead to let the rental agency know about your delay.

Local Taxes
A word of caution about local taxes and fees: many are real and unavoidable (especially in Europe), but we’ve all heard stories of unscrupulous rental car attendants selling toll or parking passes which aren’t real. While these extreme cases are not the norm, you can protect yourself (and your wallet!) by doing your homework and knowing in advance what fees you’ll be expected to pay. Some of the fees in this category are determined by the size vehicle you choose to drive, and many of these charges can vary based on the rental car company you arrange your car with. Expect to pay most local taxes, but do some research to get a sense for what you’ll have to pay before departing. If you book online, be aware that some companies won’t include these charges in your quoted price … reading the fine print will help you score the best deal.

One Way Fees
Arranging a one way trip in a rental car can be convenient and fun. Whether you’re planning the quintessential European road trip or hope to cross borders and experience several cultures in Europe, being aware of one-way fees can save your budget and help you avoid frustration. These fees, perhaps more than any other cost on this list, can make or break your vacation. Often labeled “Drop Fee” on your contract, you can avoid massive charges by understanding that domestic one-way rentals will often carry little to no additional charge, whereas one-way rentals which cross international borders can cost you hundreds of dollars. Plan your itinerary so that you return the car in the same country and you can save a bundle. Sometimes renting two cars (one in each country, switching at the border) will be cheaper than paying a hefty drop fee for an international one-way rental.
If you do have to pay for an international one way rental – doing your homework will let you know what to expect so you can budget accordingly. Nothing is worse than arriving at a rental car desk with your whole family in tow only to discover that the “great deal” you’d bragged about finding will cost you several hundred dollars more than you expected.
To learn more about what to look for on your rental car contract, Auto Europe created an in-depth guide to car rental fees. Wherever you choose to do your research: remember that the person who has control over your vacation budget is you. Protect yourself with accurate information and measured choices and you will avoid vacation-crushing surprise charges during your next trip.

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Save On National Trust Membership

National TrustThe National Trust is Britain’s largest conservation organisation, caring for over 300 historic houses, 700 miles of spectacular coastline and 600,000 acres of beautiful countryside.

The National Trust has been conserving the nation’s treasures for over a hundred years and is a charity that receives no direct support from government. The National Trust does not cover Scotland, although membership does allow free entry to properties owned by the National Trust for Scotland.

Why should you join The National Trust?

  • Great value – with membership prices starting at as little as £27.00 you can visit hundreds of fantastic places in England, Wales & Northern Ireland as many times as you like.
  • FREE car parking at most National Trust countryside, woodland and coastal car parks.
  • Children under 5 go free.
  • The National Trust membership pack which contains:
    • Members’ Handbook – the essential guide to all the Trust’s properties, opening times and locations.
    • The National Trust Magazine – published three times a year with news, views, articles, features, gardening tips and letters.
    • Regional Newsletters – updates on the special events and activities in your area.
    • Car parking sticker – free parking at most National Trust car parks.
    • Map Guide – your guide to over 300 beautiful buildings and 200 glorious gardens.
    • Free National Trust Binoculars.
    • Get 2 Months FREE membership if paying by Direct Debit using voucher code NT15061MO (valid only until September 30th 2015)

JOIN NOW


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Save Upto 50% in The Hoppa End Of Summer Sale

Alicante AirportHoppa’s end of summer sale continues in earnest this week, and they’ve got some hugely popular destinations on offer with savings of up to 50%. Promoted destinations this week include Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Majorca, Ibiza, Malaga and more. You can also receive further 17% discount using the code HOPSEP
Book with hoppa before midnight on the 30th September to take advantage of this promo code.*

Code: HOPSEP
Value: 17%
Starts: NOW
Expires:  30th September 2015

Fuerteventura airport transfers from £5.26
More info…

Malta airport transfers from £2.59
More info…

Ibiza airport transfers from £9.78
More info…

Palma airport transfers from £8.21
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Tenerife airport transfers from £8.21
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Alicante airport transfers from £13.10
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Albania – Kicking It Back In The Mediterranean

AlbaniaIf your looking for an exotic place to take your next winter or summer vacation Albania might just be the place to kick back and relax. Albania is a Mediterranean country in south east Europe.

Bordered by Montenegro to the north, the Republic of Macedonia to the east, and Greece in the south, Albania has something to see and do for every traveller. In the west Albania is coast to the Adriatic Sea. Not just one sea, Albania also coasts the Ionian Sea to the south west. With the large water basins located so close all the time Albania just so happens to be a water lovers paradise. Time to pull out those waterwings, and get out there!

Korab MountainsAlbania consists mostly of hilly and mountainous terrain. Korab, The highest mountain, is in the district of Dibra. Korab reachs heights of up to 2,753 m. For a second there my guess is that you thought that this country would only offer something to the ‘mediterranean water lover’. What about the mountains. Perfect for an array of sports like mountain climbing, hiking, scrambling, mountain biking, nature watching and more.

Albania’s climate with it’s sea’s offers very hot summers. The capital city is Tirana, which as a population of about 520,000 . Because of Albania’s poor economy, it is easy to find cheap places to stay and to eat while visiting there!

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