This affectionate cultural guide celebrates 100 icons that make Belgium different from any other country. In 100 short, informative texts, the author talks about food, people, places, traditions, inventions, buildings, and even expressions, that have shaped what he calls ‘the strangest country in the world’.
The author examines themes that are famously Belgian, like comic books, mussels served with fries, cycle racing, art nouveau architecture and rain. But he also looks at some of the odd surprises of Belgian life, including vertical archery, grandmothers’ cooking, pigeon racing and the everyday expression ‘non peut-être’ (no maybe).
You will find out about the monks who brew the best beer in the world, the largest dinosaur collection ever found, the longest tram ride in the world, the curious charm of ugly Belgian houses, and how a country can survive without a government for more than 500 days.
This book is not meant to be an exhaustive guide to Belgium, but a personal pick of the icons that make Belgium unique, along with a selection of useful addresses to visit. The texts are accompanied by 100 original illustrations by Antwerp illustrator Emma Verhagen that capture the unique spirit of Belgium.
Derek Blyth has lived in Belgium for the past 30 years. Long enough to know it is complicated. A former editor of The Bulletin magazine and Flanders Today newspaper, he has written hundreds of articles on Belgium, covering everything from abandoned zoos to obscure Belgian saints. He has shared his favourite spots in a number of bestselling guides including The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels (and Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges) and Hidden Belgium, and enjoys taking people on walking tours in these cities. Even if it always rains.