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In Summer – A Beach in Brussels

The idea is not new. For some years now, these artificial urban beaches have popped up each summer in Berlin, Hamburg and under the bridges of the river Seine in Paris. You won’t have to cram the whole family into your car, or embark on a long, hot journey to feel the sand under your feet and freshen up in the water. In Brussels, this tropical paradise is known as Les Bains de Bruxelles and it lasts for five weeks on the Quai des Péniches, along the Brussels Canal. It opens from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

True, there aren’t many waves, but some ingenuity has been applied to making the beach as attractive as possible; indeed, it draws an extremely diverse crowd of beach-goers. The 6,000 m² of sand are dotted with deck-chairs, palm trees and coconut palms, striped sunshades and beach bars serving vividly coloured cold beverages. The atmosphere is a family one during the day and sports activities include beach football, volleyball, boule and ping-pong, as well as games for young children. Pedalos and kayaks can be hired at reasonable prices on Sundays. You can also go for a ride along the canal on board the Bruxelles les Bains, which offers various tours – the short one takes 55 minutes; the longest one is a 2-hour cruise, and there is also a “cocktail cruise”, by night – while the harbour’s history and geography is expounded on by a guide.

This chill-out on the beach is accompanied by the Let It Beach festival, now in its third year. A variety of concerts liven up the evening on weekends, while on Fridays the music turns to folk, rock, pop and hip-hop. Jazz and world music take centre stage on Saturdays. The Sunday programmes target the younger set, with workshops, dances and, of course, more concerts. Night reverie is bolstered by free sessions of Croisetteke, every day from 6 p.m. on, in addition to theBoat Club,an exclusive floating club which hosts the liveliest parties in Brussels.

Not Without My Ice-cream!

When the thermometer seems to be driving endlessly upwards, another delicious way of keeping cool is to have an ice-cream. And, for those who can’t contemplate a day at the seaside without ice-cream, here are some of the best parlours in town:

Comus & Gasterea (Quai aux Briques, 86)

A place for trying the newest and most unusual flavours. It features some of the strangest ice-creams in the world, with such flavours as caviar, olive oil, Roquefort, lichi, wasabi aubergine and basil, home-made and free of additives or colouring agents. All you need is to be patient, as queues can sometimes build up outside its doors.

Capoue (Rue de Wand, 112)

Chez Capoue is one of the oldest ice-cream parlours in Brussels and, while at Comus & Gasterea you find the most unusual flavours, in Capoue they make the most daring combinations, notably bounty, blood orange and spiced bread. They are also have them sugar-free for diabetics, or lactose-free for those allergic to dairy.

Il Monello (Chaussée de Charleroi, 31 -33)

While Il Monello opened only recently, it has already made a name for itself in the city for its traditional pastries and homemade ice-creams. They also serve the latter atop a waffle for those seeking consistency (or calories).

Zizi (Rue de la Mutualité, 57A)

Zizi, a veritable institution in Brussels, is the city’s best-known ice-cream parlour. In the sixty years they have been open, they have never altered their manufacturing process. The flavours are natural and free of colouring agents.

Brussels Rules!

Brussels is a refreshing destination this summer, but not only because of its urban beach. Throughout the summer, every Friday from 5 p.m. to 11.30 p.m., the Apéros Urbains or animated afterworks are held in some of the most attractive spots in the city. Also featured is the Midis Minimes classical music festival, with daily concerts lasting 35 minutes from 12.15 p.m. (until 28 August), held in the Church of Saint-Jean et Etienne aux Minimes and in the Conservatorio Real.

Come and experience it for yourself. Come on! Pick up your towel and check out the flights to… Brussels!

Text by Scanner FM

Images by Eric Danhier

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See In the Summer at Santiago de Compostela

In a few days’ time we will usher in the summer solstice and the shortest night in the year, an auspicious moment marked by a number of rituals. A host of countries in Europe pay tribute to the change of season, not to mention the excitement associated with the long-awaited summer holidays. Fire is usually the main ingredient in most of these celebrations, whether in the guise of bonfires to burn the old spirits of the year we are leaving behind, or firework displays that light up and colour the sky as everyone waits for dawn on the longest day of the year.

Santiago de Compostela is one of a plethora of locations in Europe where the night of St John is celebrated. In keeping with the tradition that stretches across all Galicia, the city’s streets and public squares are lit up with bonfires in the course of what is undoubtedly the most magical night in the year. On this night alone, the bonfires are known here as cacharelas. The people of Santiago de Compostela leap over them, a deed believed to ward off witchcraft and the evil eye cast by meigas, the name by which evil spirits are known in Galicia. Be sure to join in this magic ritual to see in the summer on the right foot. The city’s historic centre has the most crowded bonfires, particularly in the Plaza de Irmán Gómez and the streets of Algalia de Abaixo and Valle Inclán, although you will also find bonfires blazing in the Pelamios quarter, San Juan Park in Vista Alegre and the district of San Lorenzo.

Alongside the bonfires, centre stage also features sardines, the streets of Santiago redolent with their aroma. The sardines are grilled over the bonfires and eaten together with the traditional Galician empanadas (a sandwich pie) and red wine – a great culinary combination for a night out that is bound to extend well into the morning.

Another purification ritual which Santiagans take very seriously is to leave overnight in water a sprig of magical plants and herbs, including rosemary, mint, camomile and rose, and wash themselves with that infusion the following morning. Anything goes when it comes to warding off the evil spirits, so don’t hesitate to get your spray of herbs at the Mercado de Abastos and join in the tradition.

And, There’s More

Coinciding with the festivity of St John and for the second year running, a festival organised by Turismo Santiago will be held from 22 to 24 June at which you can delve more deeply into Galician rituals and traditions associated with the arrival of summer. Among the scheduled activities are itineraries for picking the herbs for St John, a free train which runs from one bonfire to another, wickerwork exhibitions, traditional dance workshops, storytelling sessions of myths and legends about meigas and magic spells, music and the conjuro de la queimada (a ritual consisting of an incantation accompanied by mulling and drinking a pomace brandy called orujo). There will also be a market where you can taste locally sourced traditional products in season.

Text by Turismo Santiago de Compostela

 

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3 COOL DESTINATIONS IN SPAIN TO GET AWAY FROM THE SUMMER HEAT

If you are desperate to get away from the sweltering heat, take a look at these destinations and get ready to use a blanket at night.

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Why is it better to travel in autumn? 6 reasons to get away

Golden leaves on the trees, sunsets, chestnuts... many things come to mind when we hear the word "autumn". Summer is long gone and it seems like all that is left to do now is stay at home and wrap up warm. Hold on a minute! Stay at home, you say? Not necessarily! Travelling in autumn has become the best option for many reasons. Not convinced? Here are a few of them:

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