Belgium makes a perfect introduction to Europe. It's especially good for first-timers who might be overwhelmed by all there is to see in larger European countries. Though there are plenty of attractions to keep visitors happily occupied for a couple of weeks, Belgium's size is quite manageable, and getting around is easy. In fact, Brussels could be used as a base for exploring the entire country, though some local flavor would be missed. The people are friendly and helpful—even to visitors who speak only English.

For many people, thoughts of Belgium often involve chocolate: sipping oh-so-rich hot chocolate at sidewalk cafes; strolling down cobbled streets with a chocolate ice-cream cone in hand; buying a gaufre (waffle) slathered with melted chocolate sauce from a street vendor; stepping into a favorite chocolatier. Others think of the country's first-rate museums filled with the work of Flemish masters. But our favorite aspect of Belgian life is what we consider some of the best food and drink on the continent.

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