Belgium

Hottest Summer Destinations for 2014

Posted April 23, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com

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Turn up the heat on your vacation plans this summer in a destination that beckons with new and standout reasons to visit. Even the chilliest spots on this list will be hot this summer with new traveler-friendly events, openings, and airline service. Whether you're looking for some natural splendor, a 24-hour urban scene, or a simple patch of white-sand bliss, you'll be able to find it in these dazzling destinations.

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Brazil

Brazil is set to be the center of the sports universe this summer as host of the FIFA World Cup, which will welcome teams from 32 countries around the world. With more than 2.5 million tickets already in circulation for matches in cities around the country, the world will be cheering in Brazil between June 12 and July 13.

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Jamaica

Domestic low-cost giant Southwest has gotten its passport and is heading to the beach. This summer, it will launch its first international flights, with service to Jamaica from Atlanta, Baltimore, and Orlando starting in July. JetBlue is also expanding its Jamaica service just in time for summer, with new flights from Ft. Lauderdale to Montego Bay.

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Las Vegas, Nevada

Heat rises, and this summer, you can survey already-smoking-hot Las Vegas from on high in the city's latest supersized novelty, the High Roller Ferris wheel. Staking a claim as the world's tallest, the 550-foot-tall observation wheel supports 28 individual pods that can each hold up to 40 people. The views are most spectacular at night, when the Strip sparkles below. And, this being Vegas, you can buy your drinks at the bottom and bring them with you on your journey to the sky and back.

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Belgium

Last December, we named Belgium a destination to watch in 2014. And this August, it will become clear why, as the country—and the world—marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. More than 2 million travelers are expected to pay tribute at Belgium's many battle sites. The new Bastogne War Museum just opened last month and will host a variety of centennial events in the coming years.

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Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

In these ancient mountains that teem with constant springs of new life, a hundred years seems like both a blip and an eternity. This year, Rocky Mountain National Park turns 100 years old, and visitors can celebrate nature and conservation at its finest by taking part in picnics, night hikes, art exhibits, and more. Centennial events kick off in early September and stretch into 2015, so even if you miss the opening festivities, you'll still have plenty of time to join the celebration.

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Umea, Sweden

Umea brings a new twist to its Capital of Culture designation this summer with hundreds of cultural events and nearly 24-hour daylight around the summer solstice. Highlights of the summer season include U x U, a crowd-funded music festival, as well as an outdoor staging of Strauss' opera Elektra.

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Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is looking to the future by celebrating the past this summer. Its modern reimagining of the classic streetcar will debut in late spring or early summer, with 12 stops connecting Centennial Olympic Park, downtown Atlanta, Georgia State University, and the historic Sweet Auburn District. And in May, downtown Atlanta's new National Center for Civil and Human Rights museum will welcome the public for the first time.

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Aruba

Along with Jamaica, Aruba will be one of Southwest's first international destinations. In July, the domestic-until-now low-cost carrier will kick off service between Aruba and Atlanta, Baltimore, and Orlando. And the timing is perfect—since Aruba sits outside the traditional "hurricane belt," Caribbean summer travel to this island is unlikely to be hampered by challenging weather.

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Glasgow, Scotland

Brazil isn't the only country that's got game this summer. Glasgow is gearing up to host the XX Commonwealth Games, an event that draws participants and spectators from a number of countries around the world. Featuring 17 events, including aquatics, gymnastics, triathlon, and table tennis, the XX Commonwealth Games kicks off on July 23 and runs through August 3.

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Panama

A man, a plan, a canal: Panama! The engineering marvel that inspired the palindrome turns 100 on August 15, and Panama is gearing up to celebrate. Throughout the year, a number of cruise lines are offering special canal crossings or partial crossings, and day tours by providers such as Panama Canal Tours will be offered all summer. The Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo, which is visible from the entrance to the canal, will also likely open this summer. And the expansion project continues: By 2015, larger ships may be able to access the canal.

 

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Hottest Summer Destinations for 2014. 

 Follow Christine Sarkis on Google+ or email her at at editor@smartertravel.com.

Fall in Love With Brussels and Its Savings

Posted July 26, 2010 by Kate Hamman

BrusselsWith a knack for indulging in the sweet side of life, Brussels makes for a romantic getaway any time of year—and it doesn't have to cost a fortune to woo your honey. Come satisfy your sweetheart's chocolate craving at a designer candy shop before heading out to a traditional dinner of mussels and frites at a local eatery. Then at the end of the night, you can return to an affordable and cozy hotel that will take you both on a journey around the world.

Shop
Wittamer: When chocolate and style collide, you get Wittamer's delicious, designer sweets. The sleek-cubed confections make the perfect treat for that special someone. With two shops downtown, you can either sample the homemade chocolates and pralines, or enjoy a decadent pastry with your sweetheart while sipping tea in their cafe.

Eat
Chez Léon: Serving an array of homemade mussel dishes for more than 100 years, Chez Léon is the place to go in Brussels for your mollusk fix. The restaurant, however, serves more than just seafood, and you can find a variety of traditional Belgian dishes, including Belgian waffles.

Stay
Brussels Welcome Hotel: With a name like Welcome Hotel, it's not surprising that this small inn makes you feel at ease. Owners Sophie and Michel go to great lengths to familiarize you with the city, offering insider tips and suggestions. However, you can also travel around the world if you prefer to stay indoors. Each of the 16 rooms is decorated to emulate a different country, with representative items adorning the walls. The hotel is ideally located in the middle of St. Catherine square, with a subway stop literally across the street. Rooms start at €100 (about $129 U.S.; check XE.com for current exchange rates), and include breakfast.

To search for flights and compare prices to Brussels, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: PhotoDisc)

Fall in Love With Brussels and Its Savings

Posted March 27, 2009 by Kate Hamman

Belgium-brussels-def With a knack for indulging in the sweet side of life, Brussels makes for a romantic getaway any time of year—and it doesn't have to cost a fortune to woo your honey. Come satisfy your sweetheart's chocolate craving at a designer candy shop before heading out to a traditional dinner of mussels and frites at a local eatery. Then at the end of the night, you can return to an affordable and cozy hotel that will take you both on a journey around the world.

Shop
Wittamer: When chocolate and style collide, you get Wittamer's delicious, designer sweets. The sleek-cubed confections make the perfect treat for that special someone. With two shops downtown, you can either sample the homemade chocolates and pralines, or enjoy a decadent pastry with your sweetheart while sipping tea in their cafe.

Eat
Chez Léon: Serving an array of homemade mussel dishes for more than 100 years, Chez Léon is the place to go in Brussels for your mollusk fix. The restaurant, however, serves more than just seafood, and you can find a variety of traditional Belgian dishes, including Belgian waffles.

Stay
Brussels Welcome Hotel: With a name like Welcome Hotel, it's not surprising that this small inn makes you feel at ease. Owners Sophie and Michel go to great lengths to familiarize you with the city, offering insider tips and suggestions. However, you can also travel around the world if you prefer to stay indoors. Each of the 15 rooms is decorated to emulate a different country, with representative items adorning the walls. The hotel is ideally located in the middle of St. Catherine, with a subway stop literally across the street. Rooms start at €96 (about $127 U.S.; check XE.com for current exchange rates), and include breakfast.

To search for flights and compare prices to Brussels, please use our price-comparison tool.

OpenSkies to Mix Business (Class) With Pleasure

Posted June 18, 2008 by Zak Patten

OpenskiesbizWhat's in a name? In the case of OpenSkies—the new mostly-business-class subsidiary of British Airways—a whole lot. When first announced, the airline's name was inspired by the new deregulating treaty that allows airlines to operate on any routes they choose between the U.S. and E.U. Today, OpenSkies might also be taken as a comment on the lack of competition in the air, particularly since the demise of all-business-class carriers Eos, Maxjet, and Silverjet.

Sure, OpenSkies only has one airplane, a 757 that holds 82 passengers, but the Little Airline That Could has big plans for that one plane. We're talking three classes of service, with the top of the line being Biz, which boasts "truly lie-flat seats." Don't want to sleep that well? No worries. OpenSkies has Prem+, which must denote its premium-economy class, because I doubt it’s a typo (unless OpenSkies is planning on professionally curling its passengers' hair en route). Last but not least (well, actually it is the least, but OpenSkies swears it's not too bad at all), is the economy cabin. There are only 30 seats (genuine leather ones) there, so you should get plenty of attention, assuming there's also a designated flight attendant (kidding!). And everyone, regardless of class, will have access to the 50-plus hours of audio and video programming on their personal entertainment systems, so that's a step up from my favorite in-flight game: staring at the back of the seat in front of me.

So where exactly will OpenSkies fly? Let's just say it doesn't have a massive worldwide route network. In fact, there are just two cities involved, but they're pretty decent ones: Paris and New York. The plan is to scale up by adding new destinations as business results allow for it. Currently on the list of potentials are Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, and Milan.

In these days of cutbacks and fee increases, any airline looking hopefully toward the future should cheer us all up. No matter what it's called.

(Photo: AirFlights.to)


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