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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Belgian Christmas Markets

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Belgian Christmas Markets

Since our arrival here this past summer, I've heard at least a dozen times, "Christmas markets in Belgium are not like Christmas markets in Germany" or "to see a nice Christmas market, you gotta go to Cologne or Aachen".  Well, the season has finally arrived, and I L-O-V-E Christmas markets!  Of course we had to get our German fix and visited the wonderfully festive Cologne Christmas market, or should I say many of the Christmas markets scattered around the city.  But of course I had to visit our local markets as well.  I like to support home-grown, plus, I wanted to see how the Belgians celebrated.

All in all, Belgian markets are nice.....I'm still trying to figure out where or how exactly they fall short, because unfortunately, I keep comparing them to the German version.  For example, a large city like Mons only had about 50 booths downtown, mostly food and liquor....now, there is nothing wrong with that, I was just hoping to find more handcrafted local items.  There was a nice skating rink though and the atmosphere was very festive with piped-in Christmas music and a beautiful tree with lights.  The downtown vendors had also decorated very nicely, so I would recommend visiting there as a nice family outing.

Another local Christmas market we really liked was the large tent with about 100 vendors in the old Havre moated chateau.  The destroyed chateau is more in line with Halloween-viewing, but they did try to spruce it up a bit for a Christmas atmosphere, and the mood inside the tent was definitely festive.  Entry was one euro per person, which did go to benefit charity.  This market was a little different in that we saw many locally produced foodwares, but again, not so many crafts...unfortunately, quite a few "Made in China" booths as well.  We could've loaded up on all kinds of sausage, cheese and wines!  The kids also had their fill of frites (fries) and escargot (we saw a lot of these express stands at  many of the markets)....in fact, I talked to one vendor, who raises a farm of snails for his business and will even deliver to your home.  It was also nice to sit in the renovated restaurant in front of the roaring fire and enjoy some of the local goodies.  I am a recentconvert to the benefits of smoked garlic....no more regular garlic for me:-)

The other markets we visited have been a blur....nothing really stood out unfortunately....even the Brussels market is so-so, and the Belgians do a better job of showcasing some of their other festivals throughout the year.

But, with all that being said....get out there and enjoy the season!  Some of the markets continue through the end of December and even into January.  You can see some of the schedules here or read about the upcoming events in the Gazette (a magazine for the Brussels/Chievres garrisons), which also lists many of them.  Which market was your favorite?  Did anyone visit the Bruges or Antwerp markets?

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