Courier January Courier - Page 48

COMPASS BELGIUM, FRANCE AND THE NETHERLANDS Food meets art in Flanders “An eclectic mix of experiences makes Flanders, Belgium, unique: gastronomy; art, architecture and heritage; cycling; fashion and design,” says Marco Frank, trade manager for Visit Flanders. According to Frank, the region, which covers much of the northern part of Belgium, offers affordable lodging compared to other European destinations, easy communication for North American visitors (English is widely spoken) and excellent connections to the rest of the continent. But he especially emphasizes Flanders’ culinary and artistic offerings. “Culinary experiences are always on the top of the list when you are trying to immerse yourself in local cultures,” says Frank. “We have the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants per capita anywhere in Europe.” In addition to its high-end eateries, Flanders’ culinary scene is populated by talented chefs running zero-waste kitchens, emerging microbrewers and purveyors of classic street foods. In the coming years, the Flemish masters of Renaissance, Primitive and Baroque painting will be in the spotlight as Visit Flanders encourages visitors to explore the towns in which these artists lived and worked. “The tourist office is putting a lot of emphasis on our Flemish Masters campaign, which will run from 2018 to 2020,” says Frank. “We will highlight three different painters: Rubens (Antwerp) in 2018, Bruegel (Brussels) in 2019 and van Eyck (Ghent) in 2020. “The focus will not only be on the old painters, but we will mix in our new Flemish masters as well. So, it will be an eclectic mix of old and new.” For more information, contact Frank at marco.frank@ or go to LAYLA AERTS/VISIT FLANDERS Your NTA river cruise partners NTA’s membership includes several river cruise companies that showcase Belgium, France and the Netherlands—among many other European options. You’ll find a sampling below, and you can go to the NTA Online member searches for a complete list. Abercrombie & Kent NTA Contact: Phil Otterson | CroisiEurope America John McGlade | Euro River Cruises Leslie Bailey | Globus Family of Brands’ Avalon Waterways Pam Hoffee | Scenic Cruises Joe Maloney | Tauck Tom Armstrong | Uniworld Wesley Bosnic | Author’s note: It’s fitting that I would be the Courier writer charged with our coverage of Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Shortly before press time, I sent out the last forms to apply for Dutch residency. Based on how persuasive my application seems to a group of faraway bureaucrats, I will be packing up and shipping out for a graduate program I’ve been accepted to in the city of Leiden. So, with some qualifiers (I’m still waiting for an official welkom), this is my last issue as a full-time writer for this magazine. When I interviewed here late in 2013, fresh out of college, our former editor Penny Whitman asked if I liked to travel. I’m sure I said yes. But now I would say I love travel, and many NTA-ers had a part in that. 46 January 2018