Discover Benelux, Issue 26, February 2016

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I S S U E 26 | F E B R UA R Y 2016











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Discover Benelux | Contents

Contents FEBRUARY 2016



COVER FEATURE 26 K3 The new ladies from children’s pop music trio K3, currently touring the Benelux, are bursting with energy after releasing their first double album 10,000 luchtballonnen.

THEMES 18 Knokke: The seaside resort with flair With its cosmopolitan atmosphere, beautiful beaches and ample shopping possibilities, it is only natural that Knokke is known as the ‘St Tropez of the North’.

30 Discover Wallonia’s top destination of Liège Liège has transformed itself in the last decade. Its infrastructure investments have paid off, making this historic city a top destination to discover.


FEATURES 16 Introducing: Thomas Pieters This 24-year-old Belgian is a rising star in the international golf scene. We asked him about his blossoming career and what he does to relax in between playing at major events.

44 Hotel and restaurants of the month In this edition we put the spotlight on Luxembourg’s convivial Grand Hotel Victor Hugo, the tasty Italian-inspired kitchen of Favaro and Belgium’s sublime Asian restaurant Sushi Palace Ghent. PLUS: Events of the month, page 45 and 47

52 Unravelling the mystery of Mata Hari What mysteries were held within Mata Hari’s life? We found out how this Dutch girl from Leeuwarden transformed herself into a femme fatale and France’s number one suspect.

BUSINESS 36 Company profiles, regulars and more We spoke to the men behind the cafémeets-laundrette Wasbar, took a tour of the innovative conference rooms at Luxembourg Congrès and also kept a spot for our regular columnists. PLUS: Business calendar, page 41

DON’T MISS 6 Fashion Picks | 8 Desirable Designs 54 Out & About | 58 Columns

42 Dutch courage – gin in the Netherlands The Dutch gin scene is flourishing especially around Rotterdam, but this was not always the case. In this feature, we delved into the boozy history of this iconic drink.


Issue 26 | February 2016 | 3

Discover Benelux | Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 26, February 2016 Published 02.2016 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group Print Liquid Graphic Ltd Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Peterson Editor Myriam Gwynned Dijck Copy-editor Isa Hemphrey Graphic Designer Lauren Glading Contributors Berthe van den Hurk Bettina Guirkinger Cathy van Klaveren Ella Put

Harun Osmanovic Josiah Fisk Lidija Liegis Martin Guttridge-Hewitt Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak Sonja Irani Steve Flinders Stuart Forster Cover Photo K3 / Studio 100

Mata Hari had connections in high circles and was a well-known Parisian socialite. Being recognisable is hardly a desired quality for a spy and she really loved to put herself in the spotlight. And yet there are declassified documents that show she was hired by the Germans in 1915. A year later however, upon an arrest in England, she claimed to be working for the French intelligence.

Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Kirsten Schoon Katia Sfihi Sophie Blecha Veerle Barten

Being a free-spirited woman with lose morals, who refused to live a quiet life, made her an easy scape goat. Certainly her trial attests to the fact that the French were done giving this rebel a stage: conclusive incriminating evidence was limited and she was not allowed to defend herself in court or even talk to her lawyer.

Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3YT United Kingdom

But yet these contradicting facts that probably helped cement her fame even more. The mystery that surrounds Mata Hari continues to inspire generations of story writers and researchers alike. But there is a chance we will learn a little more about the truth next year, exactly 100 years after her death, as more war documents are expected to be released.

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© All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

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The name Mata Hari instantly raises images in one’s mind of exotic dances and dangerous liaisons. But what really happened to this femme fatale, who was originally from the Netherlands, is much less known (see page 52 to find out the story). Even sketchier is her demise, her trial and execution. Whether or not Mata Hari was really a spy, or even a double agent, remains an issue of contention.

Myriam Gwynned Dijck, Editor

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Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks


Beat the chill Dressing stylishly in February can be quite tricky. All over the stores, new spring collections are popping up, and while we cannot wait to get our legs out into the sunshine, we have to realise it is still freezing outside. With these fashion pieces we can start to say goodbye to the winter in a stylish way, just by keeping it cool. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PRESS PHOTOS

1. The cosy knit Investing in a black knit is always worth it. This classic piece of clothing never goes out of style and can be worn on a cold winter’s day or a chilly spring night. The classic knit is a seasonal highlight, seen all over the runway and on blogs. Combine this with an oversized coat and the street will be your runway. €330

2. Cuddly and cute This hat brings two trends together: the stylish beanie and animal details seen on many onesies. Bring out your inner animal with this cute hat. Cuddliness is guaranteed, with no teddy bear required. €33

3. Hands on A good pair of gloves is essential to battle the elements, but they also present a problem: how to use our sensitive smartphone screens with these thick winter warmers? HEMA has found a creative solution; touch-screen gloves. This pair will give you warm hands as well as a communicative touch. €9 6 | Issue 26 | February 2016

4. Shawlicious Where would we be without our winter scarves? They are not only the perfect accessory to keep us warm; they are also one of those fashionable items that can spice up any outfit. The ultra-soft fabric and light colour make this scarf a fantastic item to add to your wardrobe. €200

Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks

5. Dressing it up Rib patterns are the trend of this season. With its sleek texture and classic shape, this dress by WE is the perfect officeto-evening outfit. It is simple, stylish and very elegant. Style it up with some nice sneakers during the daytime and change to chic high heels at night. â‚Ź40

6. A warm affair This A-line coat in a beautiful dark blue colour is the key item to any look. Made out of soft, highquality fabric, this trench coat can be worn especially during this time of the year when it is still cold, but you are already preparing for spring. We like to see it as an investment in the future. â‚Ź427 Issue 26 | February 2016 | 7

Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs


Get love struck It is February, which means Valentine’s Day is not far away. With these desirable designs for couples, singles or as a gift to that special someone, we will help your inner Cupid shoot the arrow of love in the right direction. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PRESS PHOTOS


1. 1. The love tub Dutch studio Weltevree gave the classic loveseat an advanced twist and turned it into a love tub. This award-winning hot tub, with a very smart open-fire heating construction, is made from sturdy materials and is great for a hot date outdoors. €5195

2. 2. Tapas plate

3. Cupid’s arrow

A romantic dinner has never been this fun. With this portable, light-emitting tapas tray you will instantly set the mood for love. It is beautiful for presenting small dishes and also has stereo speakers built into it, so you can play your favourite tunes while gazing into each other’s eyes. €1471

If you are not into the whole pink and red Valentine’s Day theme, then this will be just the thing for you. These decorative cushions from young and creative Belgian brand ROOMblush bring a stylish touch to the arrow of love in a decorative and cosy way. €42

4. 4. A loveseat for singles This piece of furniture is not your typical love seat. Inspired by the way young lovers interact, Dutch designer Annebet Philips built this chair existing out of two parts. The parts fit together seamlessly and cannot function without each other. Price on request 8 | Issue 26 | February 2016

5. 5. Open sesame This cupboard is just a like a couple, it combines two unique pieces of furniture to become one. The vintage cabinet on one side and the minimalist dresser on the other lift each other up, bringing a world of balanced contrast into your living room. €4600

Discover Benelux | Valentine’s Day | Romantic Spots in the Benelux

A perfect small luxury boutique hotel TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: HOTEL ORANGERIE

The historic centre of Bruges is home to the truly unique and luxurious boutique Hotel de Orangerie. The interior of the hotel reveals its speciality: friendly, warm and with an excellent eye for detail. Hotel de Orangerie is a true family business. Father Jan Vermast and his two daughters Julie and Manon have been running it for over a year. They kept the hotel spirit and foundation as it was; warm, homely and with a personal touch. Jan Vermast: “We wanted to preserve the soul of the hotel, but it must remain up-to-date.” Everything is focussed on the homely feeling, but with a luxurious touch and service. They arrange everything themselves, including the interior, decoration and services. With 20 rooms, Hotel de Orangerie is a small-scale hotel, but everything they of-

fer is perfectly arranged, this includes the cosy, large fireplace with a crackling fire and soft classic couches everywhere. The detailing is exquisite and well taken care of. The staff makes sure guests only have to worry about enjoying their stay at the hotel and the city of Bruges. Manon Vermast: “We want people to feel at home while getting pampered.” Even though the hotel is located in the middle of the city centre, it is peaceful and tranquil. It has a versatile history; in the 15th century the building was a monastery, then it became a family home and 40 years ago it transformed into a hotel. This background gives every stay an extra dimension. To top things off, there is an idyllic waterfront terrace, which is open during the summer months, and the sightseeing boats stop right next to the hotel, ideal for a wonderful city tour on the water.

Superfoods, good coffee and great service TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: TRUE BEANS

There is a place in Ghent where you can truly kick start your day. From super juices to tasty yoghurt jars, homemade ice teas, vegan fudge bars and healthy salads, True Beans offers guests a delicious boost in a stylish and homely setting. “Everything we serve is fresh and homemade by Stefanie, from our soups to our soft drinks. You will not find any major brands here, apart from our sparkling water,” says Kristof Verheuge, who runs True Beans together with his wife Stefanie Mehauden. The café and superfood bar specialises in superfoods, such as their home-pressed goji berry juice, acai smoothie and oatmeal

bowl with chia seeds. “Superfoods pack loads of vitamins, anti-oxidants and other nutrients. They give you a real boost; you will not feel stuffed and they keep you going the whole day,” they say. Verheuge, a still-active interior designer, styled the coffee bar as a trendy and welcoming living room with white, gold, wood and pistachio colour detailing. “It is easy on the eyes, so people feel at home. We want guests to be comfortable and not cram in too many tables. Good service is paramount.” Aside from offering breakfast, lunch and pastries, True Beans also hosts an Apero Friday cocktail nights and High Tea Sundays. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, the coffee bar will transform into ‘True Love’ for a romantic day.

This month, True Beans will officially launch its superfood label ‘Superside’ at two major expos in Belgium; at BAD Belgian Art and Design fair on 19 February and at Essential Fit on 20 and 21 February.

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Discover Benelux | Valentine’s Day | Romantic Spots in the Benelux

Comfort and (culinary) joy TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: PATIN D’OR

and ambience in the dining room: “We generally have 25 covers – we could do more, but if one table bumped elbows with the next the experience would be spoiled,” he says.

Without trying to be a star, or achieve one, chef Philippe Laffut has developed Patin d’Or into a shining culinary success. Michelin recognition for the Luxembourg restaurant followed of its own accord. “The best way not to get a Michelin star is probably to focus on getting one,” says Philippe Laffut, Belgian chef-proprietor of Patin d’Or: “If there was a recipe, everyone would have one. There isn’t. You have to be yourself.” There is far more to culinary success than that, of course. It starts before diners even enter the restaurant – Philippe was attracted to the location partly for its ample parking, so guests arrive relaxed. It continues with the comfort

But it is the food that really matters: “My cooking is predominantly classic French and Belgian. We don’t have ‘signature dishes’ as we cook what is at its seasonal peak. It’s not the dishes offered, but what goes in them, and how you cook and season them, that’s important.” Luxembourg’s diners tend to prefer the classic culinary approach, and partner bottles from the great wine producers with Philippe’s food, though he also likes to introduce them to lesser-known labels: “They do try new wines, but next time generally revert to the celebrated names,” he says. Perhaps they feel great food merits the very best accompaniment.

Fairytale setting for a romantic meal TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: FOU DU ROY

Fine food in superb surroundings. You would be a fool to miss the Fou du Roy. There is something reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty about Durbuy, Belgium’s tiny medieval city with its fairytale castle deep in the Ardennes forest. Counting just 14 streets and a few hundred inhabitants, it is known as the world’s smallest town. And within the castle precincts, in the ancient steward’s lodge, the Fou du Roy restaurant is its beating heart.

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“Because it’s an historic building the old layout can’t be touched, so we have four dining rooms over two storeys, which makes for a cosy and intimate atmosphere,” explains Rebecca Hendrick, whose family owns the restaurant: “We’ve used a wealth of brocante items from this region to match the architecture and feel.” Rebecca’s father Philippe Hendrick, a master chef of Belgium, has maintained the local theme by sourcing his meat from the butcher’s opposite Le Fou, smoked trout from another nearby supplier, likewise several cheeses, and seasonal fruit and vegetables from mainly organic producers in the surrounding area. He cooks in a classic French style with Italian notes, his dishes at once subtle and satisfying. Such a convivial atmosphere makes it a romantic spot to dine whatever the time of year, but for Valentine’s they are going the extra mile: “As it’s the weekend we’ll be open until 11pm, the restaurant will be candlelit, and there’s a very special Valentine’s menu available as well as our usual one,” says Rebecca: “I wonder if we’ll see a proposal or two?”

Discover Benelux | Valentine’s Day | Romantic Spots in the Benelux

Enjoy vertiginous views from the heights of Villa in the Sky, or go for a more grounded approach at Villa Lorraine or Villa Emily. ABOVE MIDDLE: Chef Mathieu Jacri. BELOW: Chef Alexandre Dionisio

A villa of gastronomic delights TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS: VILLA LORRAINE

A Brussels institution since the 1950s, La Villa Lorraine is revered for its exquisite food, first-rate service and hospitable atmosphere. It is known for using high-quality, seasonal products. Sister restaurants La Villa in the Sky and La Villa Emily are held in equally high esteem for their excellent cuisine in beautiful settings. La Villa Lorraine is located on the edge of Brussels’ Bois de La Cambre and has two parts: a Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurant and a cosy brasserie. Upcoming talent Maxime Colin changes the menu every few months, and uses local ingredients such as Belgian sole, white asparagus and Ardennes venison. Colin was recognised as young chef of the year in the 2016 Gault & Millau guide. La Villa in the Sky opened in 2013. Located 120 metres in the air on the 25th floor of the IT Tower on Avenue Louise, it offers an unrivalled dining experience. Michelin-starred chef Alexandre Dionisio

creates remarkable dishes with fresh seasonal produce. The restaurant currently seats 28. Dionisio offers a choice of two set menus at lunch and dinner which change regularly. “He is extremely creative and draws on current inspirations; Dionisio likes to play with textures and mix flavours,” explains Tatiana Litvine, La Villa Lorraine’s manager and head of communications. La Villa Emily is the most recent venture of owner Serge Litvine. It opened in last December and has an entirely different feel and concept to the other restaurants. The ground floor looks on to an open kitchen and a 12-seater bar. On the first floor diners enjoy views of a magnificent five-metre Murano glass chandelier. The second floor has a private dining room for special events. It offers French-style haute cuisine; at lunch the restaurant has a three-course business deal or an à la carte menu. In

the evening the chef proposes three, four or five-course menus. Litvine describes La Villa Emily as her current favourite because it is “cosy, welcoming, and a place you can go to regularly”. So why dine at the Villas? Each restaurant has a distinct atmosphere and an exceptional service. “We try to provide an allencompassing service for customers, starting from the moment they enter the restaurant, to when they leave,” says Litvine. La Villa Lorraine also offers a popular youth menu for those aged 18 to 28. It costs 68 euros and includes an aperitif, a four-course menu, wine, water and coffee. Issue 26 | February 2016 | 11

Discover Benelux | Benelux Design | Special Feature

Discover Benelux | Benelux Design | Special Feature


Honouring the masters of the past Inspired by the masterpieces in the Rijksmuseum’s Gallery of Honour, Dutch designer Marcel Wanders has created a book to highlight the brilliance of these works of art. The exclusive art book, Rijks, Masters of the Golden Age, beautifully combines high-quality reproductions of works by Rembrandt, Vermeer and other Dutch Masters alongside quotes and interviews by today’s global thinkers. TEXT & RIJKS BOOK PAGES: © MARCEL WANDERS, RIJKS, MASTERS OF THE GOLDEN AGE, A MARCEL WANDERS PUBLICATION, 2015

Contributors include top chef Ferran Adrià, business author David Allen, philosopher Alain de Botton, photographer and director Anton Corbijn and photojournalist Jimmy Nelson. Three years in the making, following the reopening of the renovated Rijksmuseum in 2013, the book expresses Wanders’ profound admiration for the Gallery of Honour’s incredible artistic and intellectual legacy. Here, Wanders tells us more about his inspiration. Marcel Wanders – Gallery of Honour Whenever I think about the 17th century masterpieces that emblazon the walls of the Rijksmuseum’s Gallery of Honour, a deep sense of pride envelops me. Forming the heart of the Rijksmuseum, this sacred hall contains works by Dutch painters like Rembrandt, Van Ruysdael, Steen, Hals and Vermeer. I have a profound appreciation for the outstanding cultural heritage these artists represent and their timeless significance to our world.

It is with deep gratitude that I connect to the painters in the Gallery on a visceral level. I feel their drive to create. Whether it is one of the pieces celebrated in the Gallery, or something I am designing, the goal is the same – to allow those who experience it to connect with it in the most meaningful way. The entire collection of Rijksmuseum’s Gallery of Honour inspires me. I love Rembrandt for the majesty he brought to his work. Vermeer represents a wild serenity that makes me long for far more than the few paintings he has made. To me, neither Rembrandt nor Vermeer are more significant than the other. Yet, today’s design world is fundamentalist and the dominant ideology is modernism. One of the most important dogmas of modernism is that the past is irrelevant to the future. Only the new, the rational and the functional are recognised and cele-

brated. However, this creates a disposable culture. Nothing ages as quickly as the new. If modernism considers the past irrelevant, what does that mean tomorrow for the things we create today? The Gallery of Honour is not simply a place to where we can look at beautiful paintings, but serves as an invitation to search for the creativity within ourselves. It is exactly what I try to do with everything I design. It encourages me to do my part in creating a fuller, richer life for others which begins with the purpose of uplifting the human spirit. – Wanders The book comes in three versions, a 40-kilogramme, gold-plated Unique Art Edition, a silver limited edition and a luxurious coffee table book. They will be officially launched in April, but you can already reserve your copy via the website. Issue 26 | February 2016 | 13

Discover Benelux | Benelux Design | Special Profiles


Driven and fuelled by passion, Gold&Wood is confident about its place in the world of high-quality design, detailed production and handcraft made in Luxembourg, with eyewear that makes heads turn whenever it is worn. Since 1995, Gold&Wood has strived to bring the very best materials and expertise together. It combines the most exquisite natural materials such as gold, pure leather, fine wood and buffalo horn with the dedicated, artisan hand work of its craftsmen from the Hosingen valley in Luxembourg. “In a world of consumerism where we replace objects the minute they do not look shiny

and new, Gold&Wood commits to offering a product of high-quality and long-lasting life,” says founder Maurice Leonard. “Our designs have often been received as art pieces, by their unique features and characteristics. We aim to create beautiful objects with a soul – this is what makes us truly unique.” Inspired by magical places, architecture, interior decoration or luxurious accessories, Gold&Wood is full of references: from Berlutti shoes to Hermes’ signature scarves to the sticking fabric coming out of Atelier Lesage. “We strive to bring all these elements together through transforming the process of buying into an authentic experience, where the client can truly appreciate the amount of thought and expertise that goes into every single one of our pieces,” Leonard says. With promising new designs for 2016 and their favouring of luxury over large-scale retail, Gold&Wood is the brand to wear this year.


Alexander Bannink does not blindly follow mantras such as ‘form follows function’ or ‘the best designs are simple’. Instead, the industrial designer shows why balanced complexity and intensity can be better qualities, especially when it comes to transport design. “Design should be allowed to be complex. Clear-cut lines are an option, but not a necessity. You should allow for the image to be intense, visually and especially emotionally,” Bannink says. Thirteen years ago, he founded Alexander Bannink Industrial Design (ABID). “I always try to create value for my clients. Form doesn’t always follow function, especially in transport design where manufacturability combined with emotion are more essential.” Bannink has a special interest in transport design because of the movability of vehicles, which adds an extra dimension to their design. 14 | Issue 26 | February 2016

Living in Haarlem, Bannink was inspired to create a bicycle aimed at busy parents. It features a seat lock, making the bike unusable when locked, a foldable handlebar and child seat and a ‘spoke-free’ back wheel. “This leaves space for an electromotor and cycle bags. When folded in, the bike takes up very little space, ideal for stalling it in the city centre or a narrow corridor.” Bannink also came up with a lightweight, energy-efficient design to revive the ‘Blauwe Tram’ or blue tram. Until the 1960s, this line connected Haarlem to Amsterdam, Schiphol and the agricultural Bollenstreek. The front of the tram is covered by a soft foam material and the window panels are made from a plastic polycarbonate, making a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist less deadly. “In my mind, it would run on hydrogen. Now I just need to get this into the minds of a progressive city council!”

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Š Ukrphoto |



Thomas Pieters In 2015, only his second year on the European Tour, Belgian golfer Thomas Pieters rocketed into the top 100 in the world, helped by back-to-back wins at the Czech Masters and the KLM Open. Discover Benelux spoke to the 24-year-old giant (1.96 metres tall) from Geel to find out what drives him. TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON

Š Carlosalmeidafoto |

Discover Benelux | Introducing | Thomas Pieters

© Ukrphoto |

Firstly, can you tell us how you got into golf, and about your early experiences of the game in Belgium? I was introduced to golf thanks to my parents getting a taste for it in South Africa on holiday. I liked golf straight away, as I liked to do things that were a bit different from what everybody else was into. I played at Witbos Golf Club when I was five, the whole family started at the same time, it was a fun thing for all of us to do together. You enjoyed great success on the golf team at the University of Illinois in the US, where you studied sports management, but early on found it difficult. Why was that? I obviously missed my family hugely, and the food a little bit too, I wasn’t too keen on American fast food! And though I spoke reasonable English, there was still a language barrier, sometimes I couldn’t explain myself. It was a tough time but my coach dragged me through it and was really supportive. And my parents said they wouldn’t let me give it up and come home! You have said Frituur de Vijfhoek, in Belgium, is your favourite restaurant – tell us about it. It’s a very Belgian thing, almost like a food truck, serving delicious fried, greasy meat, everybody loves that sort of thing when


they go back home. Chips with mayonnaise! Your 2014 Spanish Open playoff loss to Miguel Angel Jimenez must have hurt, but has it helped since? It definitely toughened me up. I was devastated to lose, but it gave me the belief that I could compete with the best, that I could win a tournament. It helped me with my golf through 2015, with the win in the Czech Republic proving I could get there. In a breakthrough year what was the highlight moment of 2015? Walking off the 18th green at the KLM Open. All my friends and family were there – most of my friends had never even seen me play. They came over to watch me and I won, so it was very special. What are your favourite Benelux courses? I really like Houthalen in the eastern side of Belgium, that’s a favourite; Royal Waterloo is very good; and Kennemer Golf and Country Club, the course I played when I won the KLM Open this year. Your website says you flew the equivalent of four times round the world in 2015, does your height make air travel tough?

You just have to handle it as part of the job. On long flights I make sure I have extra legroom, paying for that so I’m not exhausted when I arrive somewhere – it’s an investment. How much time do you spend in Belgium now, given you tour the world playing golf? And what do you like to do at home to relax? I only get to spend between 40 and 60 days a year in Belgium now. When I’m at home I relax playing basketball, spend time at the gym with my trainer, and I like snowboarding. What will 2016 bring - do you have hopes of making the Ryder Cup team? I’m not going to change my schedule around the Ryder Cup points system… If I play well enough it would be a big bonus to get in the team, but my focus will be the majors and the tour – though I’m looking forward to playing at the Rio Olympics this year, and I’m already in the British Open. THOMAS PIETERS AT A GLANCE Born: 27 January 1992 Height: 1.96 metres Weight: 85 kilogrammes Turned pro: June 2013 Career earnings: €1.9 million Issue 26 | February 2016 | 17

Discover Benelux | Introduction | Knokke

18 | Issue 26 | February 2016

Discover Benelux | Introduction | Knokke


The seaside resort with flair The many sides of Knokke cannot be captured in one sentence. Knokke is enclosed by a rich polder landscape on one side, and kilometres of uninterrupted sandy beaches on the other. Known as the ‘St Tropez of the North’, Knokke is Belgium’s top seaside destination. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK / WWW.MYKNOKKE-HEIST.BE | PHOTOS: TOERISME KNOKKE-HEIST

Stretching ten kilometres, you will find five different beaches, each with its own atmosphere and character. From Knokke to Heist, there is something for everyone. Knokke-Heist, the municipality of Knokke, borders Zeelandic Flanders, the Netherlands. But the stunning Zwin estuary does not let itself be confined by this, and the countless migratory birds even less so. On the coast by Heist there are many references to its past, especially relating to the fishing industry. Duinbergen beach offers peace and quiet and is a typical family destination. The Albert beach is relatively calm and has the imposing Knokke Casino overlooking it (see more on page 24). Then there is Knokke itself, which is slightly more exclusive and eccentric even. Finally there is the Zoute, the cream

of the crop, with its improbably high number of art galleries. Breathing pure class, this has the air of a typical, cosmopolitan beach town. On this stretch of ten kilometres, you will find at least five water sports clubs, spoiling fans for choice. For beginners to veterans, everything is available: sailing, catamaran, kite surfing, wave surfing, wind surfing, kayaking, rafting and beach sailing. Become a member for a small fee and enjoy all the sea has to offer, or try something new. Skim boarding for example: sit down sideways on a wooden board, and glide down the waterside over a film of water. Or the ultimate pleasure: simply go swimming in the sea and battle the waves and the tides, but be careful of the strong sea. Issue 26 | February 2016 | 19

Discover Benelux | Introduction | Knokke

If the water is not your natural habitat, or if it is too chilly, then there are plenty of other sporting activities. Go for a stroll along the dikes, bring or rent own your bicycle, and enjoy the miles of well-laid bike paths waiting for you. Not that into sports? Install yourself comfortably on a sunny terrace and take in the views, or go for a delicious dinner at a star-restaurant to enjoy a delicious meal of mussels and fries. Knokke is Belgium’s ultimate shopping destination on the coast, and shopping is certainly a favourite pastime for its visitors (see page 25). At the Lippenslaan you are in for a long trip leading through the Dumortierlaan down to the end of the Kustlaan. Here you will find hundreds of more or less exclusive shops, over a distance of a few kilometres. You will be more than satisfied simply window shopping, but if you do wish to purchase something special, there are many flagship stores of world-renowned brands in Knokke. Or you can mingle with locals at a weekly market. Stroll along the stalls looking 20 | Issue 26 | February 2016

for a souvenir or locally grown produce and combine this with a snack or drink on a nearby terrace. Knokke has a textile market every Wednesday morning, and a food and flower market every Wednesday and Saturday morning. Passion for beauty is in Knokke’s genes: it is not by accident that you can find art collections of wide-ranging styles from Appel to Zadkine in over 60 galleries. This town has always had a special attraction for artists, architects, sculptors,

painters and archaeologists (see page 24). Knokke-Heist invests in art, and you will find it in the most unexpected places. Dune by Arne Quinze, for example, is an arch built over a car park entrance, or Hospitality, which is better known as Flanagan’s ‘Hare’ at the end of the Zeedijk. So whatever you do in this bustling seaside town, those who like to enjoy themselves in style will find a second home in Knokke.

Discover Benelux | Knokke | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots


A home of small luxuries near the seaside

bookin g a holi day home in 201 6 on holida yknok, quote discov erbene lux to get 10% o ff!


Upon arrival you will instantly see why guests are raving about Holiday Village Knokke. Its compact, luxury holiday homes are fully stocked and equipped to give you an absolutely carefree stay. With the privacy of your own space, plus a full, hotel-like service, Holiday Village Knokke combines the best of two worlds. “Guests can expect everything you would get at a hotel, but then in their own holiday home. We provide towels, toiletries and other essentials such as coffee and tea and we can even offer a full breakfast upon request, fresh every morning,” says Parcifal Coeman, owner of Holiday Village Knokke. The site opened just eight months ago and it is already proving to be a winning formula. Coeman is proud to

point out their 8.9 out of ten rating on from over 300 reviews. “And we are working hard every day to turn this into a nine,” he adds. Coeman’s secret to success is his focus on guest satisfaction and making sure all wishes are taken care of. “We aim for 80 per cent customer contact and 20 per cent administration work, and not the other way round. This keeps us approachable and in touch with people’s needs and requests.” Knokke is one of Belgium’s most popular seaside towns and has a rich culinary scene, abundant shopping options and is of course beautifully located by the sea. Its worldly, dynamic atmosphere make it a fantastic holiday destination. Coeman adds: “In winter time, Knokke is the perfect hideaway from the hectic every-

day life, and in summer it is buzzing with activities and events.” Open all year, Holiday Village Knokke currently has 15 luxury holiday homes available, but this will be increased to 20 this summer. Ranging from one to three bedrooms, the beautifully compact but well-equipped homes can accommodate up to six people. “And we also cater for groups who would like to rent several homes next to each other,” Coeman says. Holiday Village Knokke is located at just a short walk from Knokke’s bustling centre. With parking available next door to each holiday home, it is all the more convenient for guests to discover all that Knokke has to offer, including its stunning surroundings rich in nature. Issue 26 | February 2016 | 21

Discover Benelux | Knokke | Things to Do & Discover

Middle Eastern magic in Knokke TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: BART WILLE

There are a plethora of art galleries on the coast of Knokke, but only Bart Wille’s gallery will take you on a magical journey into the enchanted world of the Silk Road and Central Asia. Packed with authentic, historical treasures from Ouzbékistan, India and Iran, the Bart Wille art gallery gives visitors an exceptional look into the world of archaeology. In his gallery, art historian Bart Wille showcases a broad spectrum of objects varying from ancient Indian jewellery with tribal origins to antique archaeological finds, such as a Javanese tribal panel dating back to the 15th century. This presents just a sample of the large collection of artefacts housed in Wille’s gallery, which beautifully overlooks the 22 | Issue 26 | February 2016

Belgian coast. After hearing Wille talk passionately about his archaeological adventures in, for example, Afghanistan and Iran, it is tempting to instantly set off to the Silk Road and live like Indiana Jones yourself. Through the gallery, that is free to enter, Wille brings that mystical world a little bit closer to home and everyone is welcome to take a look: “From serious buyers to curious visitors, everyone can come in and have a look. Furthermore, all the objects in the gallery are provided with information notes in two languages.” Focussing on both archaeological findings and ethnographical history, meaning the study of people and cultures, the gallery is like a small museum with Wille as its

very passionate tour guide: “Ever since I started working as an archaeologist, people have asked me to bring some of my findings with me for them. I realised that people were interested not only in viewing historical objects, but also in buying them. So a gallery with the option to buy items seemed like the perfect solution.” Questioning whether historical objects might be better off in a museum rather than for sale in a gallery, Wille answers: “Archaeology is timeless, in design, in fashion and well, basically everywhere. A Roman vase will fit in any household at any time. Archaeological objects never run out of style.”

Discover Benelux | Knokke | Things to Do & Discover

Feeling blue? Buy a shoe! TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: LIEVE HERMANS

Forget diamonds, in this day and age a pair of shoes is a girl’s best friend. With a 30-year passion for fashionable, high-quality footwear, shoe designer and owner of Blue Shoes Lieve Herman is ready to offer you her stunning collection. Carrie Bradshaw, eat your heart out. “I have always loved shoes,” says Lieve Herman. “In my opinion, a shoe makes the whole outfit. You can have a very simple outfit with jeans and a plain white T-shirt, which can be totally spiced up with a nice pair of shoes. But it cuts both ways; if you are wearing awful shoes, you can easily ruin an outfit,” she says. After gathering enough professional knowledge, Herman took the leap and opened her exclusive store in the luxurious town of Knokke. Having worked in the

footwear industry for 15 years by then, it seemed like the perfect next step. And with blue also being her favourite colour, the name Blue Shoes seemed meant to be. Having found the perfect location with an astonishing view over the Belgian beaches and North Sea, the shop opened its doors on the Zeedijk in the summer of 2000. The store, decorated in blue, is picture perfect and so are the shoes. Having created a mix between a giant walkin-closet and a cosy living room, you immediately feel at ease when walking into the store. The collection is filled with exclusive high-quality brands such as Baldinini and Fratelli Rossetti as well as Herman’s own brand, which distinguishes itself by her timeless yet stylish design. It is tempting to buy them all in one go.

But for Herman quality will always come before quantity: “I always give professional and honest advice. I would rather see someone not buying a pair of beautiful shoes that just don’t work for them, than make a quick sale. They have to fit and be flattering. It is not my work ethic to do a job half-heartedly.” It is this work ethic which has created a strong relationship with national and international shoe distributors, as well as customers. Ever since the start, Herman has been working closely with shoe designers, including Stefano Branchini. “For the majority of the brands we stock, Blue Shoes is the only selling point in Belgium. This, in combination with our own knowledge, is what makes the store exclusive.” Issue 26 | February 2016 | 23

Discover Benelux | Knokke | Things to Do & Discover

Elegance and entertainment at Knokke Casino TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: KNOKKE CASINO

The rise of Knokke as the ‘St Tropez of the North’ and the success of Knokke’s Grand Casino are closely linked. The beautiful Art Deco casino, built in 1929, radiates class and grandeur and offers visitors to Knokke a special night out. Casino director Frank Massop-Peters says: “With our entertainment and exceptional hospitality, we offer everyone a unique experience, every night.” Guests can try their luck at roulette, blackjack and Caribbean stud poker and Texas hold ‘em poker during the weekend, or play on their vast selection of slot machines. “We have 209 slot machines with different, fun games. The play threshold ranges from low to higher; starting from just a few cents per turn. We also have a progressive jackpot of 5,000 euros, making the slot machines even more interesting.” Knokke Casino also has several ‘Surprise Dice’ packages available, ideal for discovering the casino. They start from 29 euros, including drinks, a bite or even a full meal, 24 | Issue 26 | February 2016

playing credit and time alone with the croupiers. Massop-Peters: “From a minimum of two people, the croupiers can give a private explanation of the rules of various games, as well as detailed tactics and strategies. This is great for a party or as a gift.” Throughout the year, on every first Saturday of the month, Knokke hosts ‘Casino Night Fever’. During these evenings, your night will be marked by a special theme, such as James Bond, cartoons, or in February; Moulin Rouge. “These evenings make for an extra fun night out, there will be a big champagne bar, music, DJ and candy girls,” he says. “And for Valentine’s Day, which falls together with the spring holidays, we will host a romantic Love Weekend.” Massop-Peters is also keen to point out their top-notch restaurant Mascotte. It serves dishes inspired by the Belgian-French kitchen. “The quality of the food is first class. It has a classic à la carte menu and extensive set menus that change every two weeks.”

HOST AN EXCLUSIVE EVENT Knokke Casino offers several exclusive spaces for events, such as the two-level reception area featuring a dazzling, eight-metre-wide and seven-tonne Venetian chandelier. “It is the world’s largest crystal chandelier, we even got a Guinness Book of Records mention,” Massop-Peters says. Another special room is the circular Magritte hall with a surreal landscape fresco by René Magritte all around the walls. The rooms can host between 30 to 1,000 people.

Discover Benelux | Knokke | Things to Do & Discover


with a love for shoes and sales. Her passion to work with children evolved when she opened her own shoe store in Knokke in 2000: “The interaction with children as well as their curiosity for shoes is amazing, it makes the job really fun,” she says.

According to research, Europeans spend over 20,000 euros on nearly 470 pairs of shoes in their lifetime. Therefore, we should probably learn how to invest in the right shoes from an early age. And where better to do this than at one of Belgium’s coolest shoe stores for kids; Chroom Kinderschoenen in Knokke.

The store, which has two locations; one on Knokke’s high street the Lippenslaan and one on the Zeedijk overlooking the sea, offers a large and modern variety of children’s shoes as well as excellent service by an experienced team including Veronique, Sylvie, Vanessa and Marijke. The collection ranges from European sizes 18 to 41, including well-known brands such as Gallucci, Twin-Set, Ninette, Andrea Morelli as well as Atlanta, Moccasines and, last but not least, Havaianas from Disney’s Frozen; a collection so popular it will be extended to March.

Growing up between the shoeboxes of her parents’ store, Veronique Dreissig was raised

The Havaianas from Frozen are a bit of an exception at Chroom Kinderschoenen, as

Dreissig goes on yearly trend-spotting trips to Milan. This allows the store to distinguish itself by presenting a variety of high-end brands known by both children and grown-ups. “You won’t find pink shoes or flower motives here, but you will find fashionable and good-quality shoes that last and which kids will love too.”

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | K3

26 | Issue 26 | February 2016

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | K3

K3: Ready to shine A pop hit with 10,000 balloons After the thrilling finale of K3 zoekt K3 (K3 searches for K3), a momentous decision in the world of pop music had been made: the new members of the children’s pop group K3 had been chosen. Marthe, Klaasje and Hanne have big shoes to fill, taking over a chart-topping trio who have been entertaining children with infectiously joyful music since their first hit in 1999. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: K3 – STUDIO 100

The final of the K3 zoekt K3 talent show, broadcast in November, was the most-watched programme in Belgium ever, also pulling in millions of viewers from the Netherlands. As the new formation of K3, the ladies instantly rose to greatness. After the live shows, they wasted no time in going straight to the studio to record the double album 10,000 luchtballonnen (10,000 balloons). “It has been a very fast ride where we have been thrown into. But everything we have done up till now was a lot of fun,” says Marthe “We very much look forward to doing more fun things in the future.” Formed in Belgium in the late 1990s, K3 was named after the initials of the original members; Karen Damen, Kristel Verbeke and Kathleen Aerts. The girl group is known for their upbeat, Dutch-language bubble pop songs aimed at children. Almost every child in the Netherlands and Flanders is familiar with their hits such as Alle Kleuren, Heyah Mama and Oya Lélé. In 2009, after nine studio albums, countless hits, musical performances and sev-

eral K3 movies, Kathleen left the group. She was replaced by Josje Huisman from the Netherlands following a similar talent show called K2 zoekt K3.

play the flute; even now being in K3, I still have time for that,” she says. “I see this as a very big change, but also as a very exciting change.”

From classical music to pop sensation

Stepping into the foreground

In early 2015 the members announced they wanted to retire and were looking for a complete new trio. Klaasje Meijer, 20, who read about the news, says: “At the time, I was studying at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam, so I was in the world of classical music; I played the flute. And then I saw that article and I thought: ‘wow’. That is my dream really, because everything – dancing, singing and acting – comes together within K3. For me that was the opportunity to combine all those art forms, to go all-round. And yes, this made it an easy choice for me, and that is why I just immediately signed up.”

The dark-haired Marthe De Pillecyn, 19, from Belgium, has a very different background. Also musically grounded, she has been part of a choir for over ten years. Despite this, she never thought she would become part of a girl group. “I have always been in the background as part of the choir so I never stepped into the foreground, aside from when I would perform with my boyfriend. So I have always thought of doing something with singing, but I never really did it,” she says. “It seemed really great to me to do something with three so I would not have to be on stage all alone!”

For the blonde Klaasje, originally from the Netherlands, the flute and classical auditoriums were exchanged for rainbow dresses and lively dance routines. “It is a very different type of music, but I am taking my classical music with me like a backpack. It was a great basis and I still

Having this experience certainly helped Marthe to feel more confident on stage, but she admits the attention is something she had to get used to in the beginning. “Also for me K3 is something totally different, suddenly standing squarely in the foreground. But in terms of singing with multiple voices [my experience] will probably help me in the future.” Issue 26 | February 2016 | 27

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | K3

Marthe, Hanne and Klaasje in the K3 zoekt K3 final.

In the spur of the moment

The new sound of K3

Something new and something old

Hanne Verbruggen, 21, who had her hair dyed red when she became part of K3, did not have any on-stage experience, and signing up to the talent show was very much a spontaneous decision. “Rather in the spur of the moment, I got my laptop out and signed myself up,” she says. Also for Hanne, it was the mix of singing, acting and dancing that attracted her to it. “And on top of that it is aimed at children, and you will be dealing with children, and that was the perfect fit.”

Released at the end of last year, 10,000 luchtballonnen contains both catchy, brand new songs and some of the most popular K3 songs from previous albums. The record has sold over 240,000 copies and gained five-time platinum status. Marthe says: “The new songs have actually adapted really well with the times. They are very trendy. There are both some calmer, down-tempo songs and very fast and intense songs.”

Still hoovering on number two in the Flemish album charts (at the time of writing), after having been number one for three weeks since its release, the album has been a great hit. We asked the ladies about recording this instant success. Klaasje: “The songs were of course already written, but we still had to sing the entire album. The first day was just singing with the three of us and also dividing it, so looking at which bits would suit whom the best, and which bits would fit whose voice.”

Having limited musical experience, she never thought that she would be able to be part of a girl group. “I knew my singing was alright, and now with singing classes I realise that this is really a possibility,” Hanne says laughing. What certainly helped her find confidence on stage was the fact she has danced since she was eight years old. “Dancing and acting are things where I feel I already have a little bit of experience, so that compensates somewhat. But yes, singing is always tricky for me, but we do the very best we can, and we get really good guidance.”

Klaasje especially loves how the album dips into different genres. ”Obviously, they are all pop songs, but you also feel edges of other musical styles.” Talking about Woef!, one of her favourite songs, she says: “This song is a bit like a low-tempo song that has something jazzy to it. At the end we were allowed to improvise on it, which was a lot of fun to do. And Do do do you love me is more of a dance song, electronic. And Mami Bisou is somewhat based on Stromae, it is real poppy but also very suitable to play at a disco for example.”

28 | Issue 26 | February 2016

The 24-track album is made up of one half of new songs and one half of old songs. Marthe says it was somewhat tricky to rerecord the songs from the previous trios, as she had grown up with them herself. “It was a little bizarre, but eventually by singing them, we made them our own, because our voices just sound different. And for the rest, we just tried to channel the message of the song and sing them in that way,” she says. “A few songs were adjusted a little bit, in terms of music as well. I think the K3 formula will stay, but it

will be a little different, because we are different girls.”

Bringing joy to young and old Part of that formula are the recognisable, energetic dances routines. Klaasje says she finds it easy to find motivation and give every performance the best effort she can. “We are simply ourselves and we are generally three really cheerful girls. And you strengthen each other, so if one gets into the car with the morning blues, then you lift each other up and then you are looking forward to your day again. And what helps us the most is our audience, they are the fans. If you have to get on stage, just before a show, and if you hear the audience in the hall, and then once you are there with all those kids and see those happy faces, yes, that gives so much energy.” While the main target audience is typically young children, the success of the television programme and the album sales show that the appeal of K3 goes much further. Marthe: “We don’t just try to appeal to the children, but also teenagers and the parents, because they are also among our audience every time as well of course. We hope that they can also enjoy the show.” Being suddenly bombarded to not just stars but also role to models for youngsters, the ladies say they are aware of their responsibility but do not see is as a burden. “We are very conscious of that function and we try to fulfil it the best we can. At the end of the day the people, the children and the parents, have chosen us and we try to fit into that role the best we can,” says Klaasje. “The way we present ourselves, that is how we really feel, and I hope that it will make people happy.”

Hanne, Klaasje and Marthe are currently touring the Netherlands and Belgium together with the old K3 members Karen, Kristel and Josje. You can buy tickets via the website of Studio 100. Issue 26 | February 2016 | 29

Discover Benelux | Introduction | Liège


Liège: a city in metamorphosis Thanks to an ambitious redeployment project, Liège has become Wallonia’s rising star as a tourist destination. Over the last ten years it has equipped itself with the latest infrastructures in the fields of mobility – in particular the high-speed train station designed by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava – as well as culture, with an abundance of opera, theatres, museums, cinemas and more. TEXT & PHOTOS: WWW.VISITEZLIEGE.BE

These investments have changed the face of the city for the benefit of its inhabitants and the thousands of visitors it receives every year. Liège is a city in transformation, but also one with numerous traces of its thousand-year-old glorious past. This is a delight that enthusiasts of history and stories very much appreciate and can discover on a trip to Liège. The historic centre and the circuit of collegiate churches are a must-see for every firsttime visitor.

a wide range of quality cultural activities that are easily accessible and diversified. Liège is also famous for the hospitality and convivial nature of its people, and is well known for its waffles, beers and chocolate. The city certainly is a place for food lovers to really enjoy themselves. Then there are also the concerts, shows, bars and restaurants offering an intense, rich and varied nightlife. Liège is definitely the city to wake up in.

This year sees the opening of the Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des BeauxArts de Liège, also known as BAL) in its new location. The new venue will be an exhibition centre of international standards called La Boverie. It is designed in partnership with the Louvre and will offer Issue 26 | February 2016 | 31

Discover Benelux | Liège | Wallonia’s Top Destination

Dalí: showcasing a flamboyant genius TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS: I.A.R. ART RESOURCES LTD

From Salvador to Dalí is the first exhibition of its kind in Belgium: more than 2,000 square metres of paintings, prints, jewellery and sculptures will be shown at Liège Guillemins station from 27 February to 31 August. Rather than simply viewing paintings on four walls, each visitor will be immersed in Dalí’s offbeat, unique and fascinating world. One of the exhibition’s organisational challenges was that a station is hosting it, rather than a museum. Philippe Lejeune, the expo’s head of communication, notes: “Because we’re not a museum we can’t exchange artefacts with other museums, so all the pieces came from private collections around Europe.” While this was a difficulty, it also means many rare and scarcely shown works have been accumulated: one was last shown in Germany in the 1970s, while another was last exhibited in Canada in the 1990s. The exhibition traces Dalí’s life, starting from his childhood. He was named Salvador,

after his brother, who died before he was born. This event would mark his entire life, with his deceased brother remaining a recurring theme. Dalí said: “Every day, I kill the image of my poor brother… I assassinate him regularly, for the ‘Divine Dali’ cannot have anything in common with this former terrestrial being.” The exhibition then showcases Dalí the painter and surrealist, his contact with fellow surrealists and artists of his era; finally, it examines the international mark that he left on the world, through his art, design and haute couture fashion.

A glimpse into some of Dalí’s most rarely seen surrealist works.

FROM SALVADOR TO DALÍ The exhibition is held from 27 February to 31 August. Open on Mondays to Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10.30am to 8.30pm; Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 10.30am to 7pm. Access is via Liège Guillemins station. Audio guides are available in English, French, Dutch and German.

A wander through Liège’s principal historical site TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: ©IPW

At 3,725 square metres, the Archeoforum of Liège is one of the largest urban archeological sites in Europe. At the centre of the historical heritage of Liège, it is a perfect starting point when visiting the city. Located under the St Lambert square, the Archéoforum played a crucial role in the history of the city. During the first and second centuries of our era, a Gallo-Roman villa was built on the prehistoric site where, in the year 700, Bishop Lambert was murdered. This marked a turning point as a cult around his martyrdom raised thousands of pilgrims to make their way to the city of Liège, prompting for the construction of 32 | Issue 26 | February 2016

a cathedral. This cathedral grew to be one of the tallest gothic churches of Europe, before being demolished during the Liegian Revolution at the end of the 18th century. All of these historical details about the site and many more are provided at the Archéoforum by a multi-lingual iPad which contains photos and videos from the archives, as well as reconstitutions of different buildings and games and activities for children. On top of this, during each school holiday, educational events are organised especially for families, so make sure to check the calendar for activities in February when schools break up for Carnival. The Archéoforum also rents its 120-seat auditorium as well as its reception room, hosting up to 200 people for various events such as concerts, conferences and weddings. For history enthusiasts as well as families with children, this is an ideal beginning of a trip to the city of Liège.

Discover Benelux | Liège | Wallonia’s Top Destination


In Liège, what was once post-industrial wasteland has been transformed into surely the most stunning shopping and leisure centre in Europe. It is a place with a difference, or more specifically multiple differences.

but they are very welcoming, the keynote red indicating warmth and comfort.

“The idea was to have something that signalled its modernity and dynamism to the public,” says Lucie Somers, the centre’s marketing manager. “And that inspires people who work in and visit the complex.”

Within Médiacité too there is much that is different from the norm. Among its 124 businesses there are many attracted to Belgium for the first time; the familyfriendly food offers cuisines from around the world – though the great Belgian classic of moules-frites is there too, in season. And when it comes to leisure, how many regional rivals boast an Olympic-sized skating rink? Or a lounge for men to seek refuge when they tire of shopping? How many have a mini-fairground, or a free crèche? None can match the MediaRives broadcast studio, the largest in Wallonia. “Belgium’s version of The Voice is recorded here,” says Somers. “Which we think is a pretty big mark of approval – and not bad publicity for us!”

The building’s flowing, sweeping lines would not look out of place in a sci-fi film,

Now celebrating its seventh year of operation, Médiacité continues to move with

Even before you enter Liège’s Médiacité for the first time you know that it will not be anything like the shopping centres you are used to. The architecture is simply stunning, not surprising perhaps when you discover that the legendary Ron Arad was a key figure in its realisation.

the times, or to stay ahead of them: “We are proud of our accessibility, for disabled people of course, but also the new pedestrian and cycle-way coming this year that will link us with Calatrava train station via Boverie Park. This is a fantastic facility, and we want to make it easy for everyone to get to it,” she concludes. MÉDIACITÉ IN NUMBERS 124 stores 2,350 parking spaces 160,000-square-metre floor area Open Monday to Saturday 10am till 8pm daily, 9pm Friday (Open for six Sundays in 2016).

Issue 26 | February 2016 | 33

Discover Benelux | Liège | Wallonia’s Top Destination

Stellar sights and sounds TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS: COUNTRY HALL

Country Hall is Belgium’s largest cultural venue. Located in Liège, this multi-purpose indoor arena hosts notable sporting events, concerts and cultural gatherings. For sports events, the arena seats 5,600 people, while it has place for 7,200 concert goers. Previous standout sporting events include the 1973 European Champions basketball cup, and the 1977 European Basketball Championship, and it has also staged four operas. This year Country Hall will host the first round of the World Group men’s tennis of the Davis Cup from 4 to 6 March. Plus, world-renowned exhibition basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters will visit the venue on 1 April to perform a show combining theatre, comedy and athleticism. The team has played over 20,000 games in 120 countries around the world. 34 | Issue 26 | February 2016

Other key happenings this year are shows by French comedian Laurent Gerra on 15 April. Expect to be entertained by this showman as he imitates senior French politicians and other notable figures. On 4 June Lebanese-British international pop star MIKA will take to the stage. In total the venue receives over 100,000 visitors a year. Director Jean Mathy has worked at Country Hall on and off since 1971. His favourite aspect of the job is “the diversity, the culture, the contact with people and the shows”. The most challenging thing about being director, says Mathy, is finding the right contacts to organise events, and when people do not respect agreements. As well as the show arenas, Country Hall has a VIP restaurant and other areas which can be rented out for special occasions. Major companies fre-

quently organise large receptions and parties for up to 2,000 people. Mathy recommends visiting Country Hall for an event because it is the largest events hall in Belgium, has great accessibility with proximity to major thoroughfares and stations, and it has a first-rate technical capacity. He also notes that Country Hall and its team have the capacity “to organise excellent events at just 24 or 48 hours’ notice”. Mathy is most proud when people return for a second time, and his happiest moment was hosting French pop singer Christophe Maé in March 2014.

Discover Benelux | Liège | Wallonia’s Top Destination


menu with a starter, main dish and coffee is offered for 25 euros. Pane e Vino has the largest wine cellar in Liège, with 10,000 bottles of Italian wines. Each month it hosts a themed evening pertaining to a particular Italian region, with a special menu comprised of local foods and their accompanying wines. Pane e Vino offers gastronomic delights in elegant surroundings in central Liège. Experienced chef and owner Mario Iadanza opened the restaurant in 2009 with the idea of bringing fresh Italian produce direct to customers. He prides himself on using fresh, seasonal ingredients. All of the products arrive from his farm in Naples. In line with this, the menu changes weekly. The restaurant serves delicious Italian food with a choice of multi-course menus (35 to 65 euros), or an à la carte menu. A daily lunch

If you find choosing a dish challenging, or simply prefer to be surprised, then the Faccio-Io formula is for you. Just let the chef know of any ingredients you do not like, and Iadanza will choose a selection of shared starters, antipasti and a main dish. Dessert is also included. Faccio-Io costs 45 euros per person. Maître d’hôtel Karim Hayoun notes that Pane e Vino differs to other Italian restaurants in that it “offers four different menus a week, and fresh food directly from Italy. We aim to be both authentic and innovative in our food.” Throughout the year it also serves specialities like lobster, foie gras and truffles.

Your Partner in Anglo Dutch Business The Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) is the only bilateral non-profit membership organisation solely dedicated to promoting Anglo-Dutch trade and investment. From our start in 1891, we helped thousands of companies and entrepreneurs expanding their business abroad. The Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce, 125 years experience in Anglo-Dutch trade and investment promotion. Contact us now for: • Access to interesting network events • Participation in NBCC events and working groups • Exclusive access to our intranet membership area • Up to date economic information and market sector intelligence • Market research • Partner searches • Company formation • Virtual office services • Sales support NL Tel.: 070-205 5656 UK Tel.: 03333-440 779 Email: Or visit:

Wasbar Kortrijk interior


The laundrette brand of the year award Successful business ideas do not have to be complex. When Yuri Vandenbogaerde and Dries Henau came up with the concept of a laundrette encompassing a café, it was because they were tired of schlepping laundry between their Ghent apartment and parents’ homes. In late 2015, Wasbar was named Belgium’s New Brand of the Year. TEXT: STUART FORSTER | PHOTOS: WASBAR

Wasbar Ghent Photo: Arne Jennard

Wasbar Antwerp Photo: Frederik Vercruysse

Discover Benelux | Business | Special Feature

Wasbar Kortrijk Exterior

“We were thinking there should be some place you can do laundry and it can be fun,” explains Vandenbogaerde. “It’s a place where you don’t see doing laundry as a burden. You can have a drink with friends, you can watch a concert, have brunch or talk to the people behind the counter.” The result is a hip, design-led place with a laid-back vibe. The washing machines ranged around the walls of the room bear typically Belgian names and quietly get on with their work. Some people simply stop by for food and drink and a chat. Prior to opening the original Wasbar in Ghent, on 4 October 2012, the married couple worked in the publishing industry. Vandenbogaerde was a brand activation manager and Henau a marketing manager. Their concept proved successful. Nine months later they opened a second branch in Antwerp, followed by a third in Kortrijk. Henau and Vandenbogaerde, who have also written two lifestyle books together, had no joy when approaching banks for a loan to finance their business plan. However, the young entrepreneurs did successfully pitch to a washing machine manufacturer. “We said to Electrolux ‘we

can make a real time showroom for you; people can test them’,” says Vandenbogaerde, aware that Wasbar’s consumers move on after a few years. “They [their customers] have finished school, have their first job and want to continue living in the city. They live small; they don’t have the money or room for a washing machine. They come to Wasbar to do their laundry. After a few years they meet someone. They marry, they have kids, so they go outside the city. If they have used Electrolux for two or three years, the chances are reasonable that they know it’s good. When they buy a machine, it will be an Electrolux.” In July, Wasbar’s founders sold their company to Top Brands, which owns the Belgian licences for Pizza Hut and Paul bakery franchises. “They have the people, the skills and the resources to grow Wasbar,” explains Vandenbogaerde. “We love to be creative, we are not really the best managers around,” he adds with a touch of self-deprecation. Even at the outset, the couple envisaged their involvement in the company would be for a maximum of five years. “We thought maybe we should start the ending of our story, in this story, by making sure

the brand gets bigger and keeps on living,” says Vandenbogaerde. Despite handing over the day-to-day running of Wasbar to Top Brands, the company’s founders remain its public faces, taking care of its correspondence and social media. In December, Wasbar was named Belgium’s New Brand of the Year 2015 by STIMA, the country’s largest marketing organisation. Around 280 companies entered the awards. The public had a chance to vote for the final five candidates, but 70 per cent of the decision was down to a jury, to whom the finalists gave a presentation. Wasbar’s presentation was received positively by members of the jury. “They said they loved that we really knew what we were doing plus the entrepreneurship behind it. They said ‘with the money you had, what you did was crazy if you compare it to the gigantic budgets that most companies had’,” says Vandenbogaerde, glowing with pride. Plans exist for Wasbar to open new premises in Belgium and Paris during 2016. In the meantime, Vandenbogaerde and Henau are putting together the final touches to their third book, giving people ideas on how to make the most of their vacations. Issue 26 | February 2016 | 37


Meeting requirements in Europe’s cosy capital Thanks to its ultra-modern facilities in the heart of one of Europe’s most historic and popular cities, Luxembourg Congrès is setting the standard for conference facilities – and it is a standard approved by some very demanding clients. TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: COURTESY OF LUXEMBOURG CONGRÈS

Discover Benelux | Business | Conference Centre of the Month

develop the concept of a ‘convention park’, almost like a resort,” he says. The idea is to make it easy to arrange not just the business side of the conference, but the accommodation and related social aspects too.

On the world’s doorstep

If conference organisers are seeking to assure themselves about the quality of the facilities offered by Luxembourg Congrès, managing director Patrick Hoffnung can do so with ease: “The European Conference Centre building is reserved for three months of the year, April, June and October, for use by the council of ministers of the European Union. And through 2015, when Luxembourg held the Presidency of the EU, our buildings hosted the majority of its meetings,” he says. Our political leaders tend to choose the best. Those organisers can trust their own eyes too, via a virtual tour of the two linked buildings, the ultra-modern ECCL, and the 1970s retro Hemicycle, courtesy of the organisation’s exceptionally detailed website and a downloadable app.

Big spaces, small spaces With an amphitheatre capable of holding almost 650 participants, one conference room for 800 and another for 146, Luxembourg Congrès can accommodate large groups. Their modularity and flexibility means that these, along with 40 meeting rooms with a capacity from 30 to 380, can handle meetings with breakout sessions and workshops too. And the designers have been able to create effective lighting and add a little style into the interiors, as a glance at the Ministers’ Room with its overhead sculpture, or the artful and airy main conference rooms reveals.

Technical excellence “We are constantly upgrading our technology to meet the expectations of the council of ministers and of course our other clients,” says Hoffnung. “Audio-visual apparatus, security, communications, and the equipment required by translators is of the highest standard and, unlike many other locations, when a company hires our rooms the equipment there is included in the initial price.” Given that Luxembourg is one of the least expensive EU capitals, Hoffnung feels it adds up to a superb value-for-money destination for conferences and conventions.

Food for (creative) thought Conference delegates will not be disappointed by the catering facilities either, with a variety of restaurants and bars where the food and the atmosphere combine to sideline working stresses. In particular, the high-end Belvedere Restaurant and the quirky, colourful design of the Crocodile Bar catch the eye. “There is a futuristic atmosphere about much of our design,” says Hoffnung. “And that is important not just in making our facilities nice to look at, but in energising the people using them.” Hoffnung is keen to emphasise the importance of what is outside the contrasting buildings as well. “We collaborate with the service providers in the area around us – including 13 restaurants and excellent hotels with more than 620 beds – to

Luxembourg Congrès takes advantage of one of Luxembourg City’s existing advantages: its relatively small size. “You can reach the city centre in just five minutes from here; we have the Philharmonie and two of our greatest museums close by, and the other main tourist attractions are within walking distance,” he adds. “But it’s a city with a real buzz about it, full of energy, a multi-lingual multi-cultural place where about half the population – and it is a young population – are from other countries, many working in international institutions and multinational company headquarters here. Most Luxembourgers tend to speak four or five languages as well, which is good for visitors who don’t have the same skills!” Access to attractions within the city is easy, but then so is access to the city and the conference centre from elsewhere. The airport is just seven kilometres away; the city’s main train station – connected to Paris by the TGV – is ten minutes on foot, or a rapid taxi ride; and Luxembourg is at the heart of Europe’s motorway network. “We hope that some of our visitors will have time before they head home to venture into our beautiful countryside, it would be a pity to miss that opportunity,” says Hoffnung.

HEMICYCLE AND EUROPEAN CONFERENCE CENTRE Two distinct buildings linked by a passage. Hemicycle amphitheatre: 646 places. ECCL conference room 1: 800 as theatre, 450 as classroom, 550 as banqueting hall. ECCL conference room 2: 146 as conference room.

Issue 26 | February 2016 | 39

Discover Benelux | Business | Columns


Can flowers lie?

You might think something as innocent as a flower would by nature be a truth teller. But flowers, just like gifts or greeting cards or smiles, can mean all sorts of things. Yes, they have an inherent message of happiness. But that actually puts them at a higher risk of being pressed into service when people are trying to sell, manipulate, distract, or cover up.

I found myself thinking about the uses and abuses of flowers recently when passing through Amsterdam airport. Like airports everywhere, Schiphol has a fleet of trollies for keeping the bathrooms clean. Unlike most airports, however, these trollies have a decorator’s touch. Instead of plain, utilitarian sides, they’re decked out with oversized photos of bright yellow tulips. You can see what the designers were aiming for. And their hearts were in the right place. But somehow the whole thing backfires. Instead of a nicely decorated utilitarian device, the overall impression is of a highly mixed message and an inept attempt at concealment. The flowers seem determined to be wishing us the happiest of all possible days. “April is bursting out all over!” they’re practically shouting. But what’s actually bursting out all over are the mops, buckets, cleaners and toilet paper. And those do not send quite the same message as a field of tulips.

Don’t be rude Psychologists at Lund University recently established that rudeness in the workplace can be contagious. Defined as behaviour which violates the norm for mutual respect, rudeness can easily develop into bullying if it is not stopped, but the researchers found that the most common cause of acting rudely is imitating the behaviour of colleagues. To quote Martin Bäckström, professor of psychology: “Those who behave rudely in the workplace experience stronger social support, which probably makes them less afraid of negative reactions to their behaviour from managers and colleagues.” As people often imitate the behaviour of others, there is a risk that rudeness becomes a vicious circle resulting in reduced job satisfaction, lower efficiency, reduced loyalty, and more conflict. I find people’s perceptions of rudeness and politeness as interesting as the phenomena themselves. When I ask non-Brits in intercultural training sessions how they see 40 | Issue 26 | February 2016


All the same, it’s clear which message is telling the truth about the purpose of the trolley, and which is trying to hoodwink us. And the truth, while prosaic, is more appealing. We like it when we can see the real story peeping out behind an attempt at camouflage. But consider this: if they’d made the trolley enclosure big enough to hold everything, the flowers might have worked. In other words, if they’d done a better job of hoodwinking us, we’d happily take the flowers at face value. Well, at least until we smelled the industrial cleaners.

Josiah Fisk is the head of More Carrot LLC, a clear communications company with offices in Boston and Luxembourg.


the British, ‘polite’ is an invariable response, even if they have direct experience of the displays of mass drunkenness, urinating in public, the shouting of obscenities and the occasional fight which characterises British town centres on Saturday evenings. Ask nationals from pretty much any major European country whose behaviour abroad they find the most embarrassing and they will say their own compatriots are the rudest – but they can’t all be right. Parisian waiters are deemed to be both the rudest and the most stylish in the world – how can that be? I conclude that when it comes to rudeness and politeness, many of us are capable of holding two contradictory ideas in our heads at the same time. There is also an interesting relationship between rudeness and directness. Those polite Brits don’t say “may I open a window?” but “it’s a bit stuffy in here, isn’t it?” – a coded message which goes over the head of most non-native speakers. The Brits think Germans speaking English are rude just because they

fail to wrap up their messages fancily enough. But who’s being rude in not bothering to learn a foreign language in the first place? I suppose the answer is, as Jane Austen shows us, that politeness can provide a set of rules which fosters mutual respect, but also a veil to mask the most stunning hypocrisy. I hope you won’t think me rude in saying that.

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, now based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally:;

Discover Benelux | Business | Calendar

Business Calendar TEXT: ELLA PUT

The Power of Big Data Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 17 February Join the British Chamber of Commerce for Luxembourg at its panel discussion on how big data is being captured, stored, analysed, deployed and reported by Luxembourg service providers. Learn how to make the most of big data and discover how it could support the evolving needs of business.

Flam3D Photo: Materialise

A false sense of security: CEO’s and director’s liability Luxembourg, Luxembourg 1 February The growing internationalisation of businesses has made the responsibility of CEO’s and directors more complex. Personal liability to non-shareholders, which they may face due to certain circumstances, is a relatively neglected area. During this educational day, the American Chamber of Commerce will inform you about the specific risks of leading a business and how to secure your company.

Leading Event Smart Industry Apeldoorn, the Netherlands 4 February The continuous evolution of new production technologies and further integration of ICT into the designing process is currently changing all industries. To create a Dutch industry fit for the future, Smart Industry was brought to life. With its Leading Event in February, the organisation makes sure you are part of the digital revolution. Expect proficient speakers, unmissable mingling opportunities and the latest technological gadgets.

Branded Content Event Utrecht, the Netherlands 4 February With speakers such as Joeri Van den Bergh, author of How Cool Brands Stay Hot, and Cor Hospes, who wrote The Content Bible, the tenth edition of the Branded Content Event will provide its visitors with a forecasting view into the future of branded content. What will the next generation of branded content look like?

Flam3D Brussels, Belgium 9 February The new, independent and innovative Belgian platform Flam3D is bringing a new dimension of product development to Flanders: 3D printing. Their opening event in Brussels will give you an exclusive look into their mission to represent, support and bring together companies active in the 3D printing industry

Tech Startup Day Brussels, Belgium 18 February Join more than 1,000 attendees at the annual Tech Startup Day. With over 70 startup supporting organisations and a mix of hands-on workshops and networking events, this gathering is an essential event for tech start-ups in Belgium.

Branded Content

Issue 26 | February 2016 | 41

Photo: NBTC


The best gins in the world As Rotterdam makes it on to Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel 2016 list, we look at how neighbouring Schiedam is revolutionising the most English drink on the planet, and tell you where to find the best bottles in this corner of the Netherlands. TEXT: MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT | PHOTOS: NOLET DISTILLERY

In the heart of Schiedam, a small city six kilometres from central Rotterdam, thirsty visitors will find the Nolet Distillery. Established in 1691, its history is legendary, with the 11th generation of the family currently crafting tipples with dedication to traditional methods. The firm produces both Ketel One brand vodka and genever, alongside three lines of gin: Nolet’s Silver, The New Face of Gin, and Reserve, betraying a long relationship between the Netherlands and England’s favourite afternoon carouse. It is easy to get lost in hazy details – this is booze after all. So let us keep it simple. Genever emerged from the Low Coun42 | Issue 26 | February 2016

tries, now Belgium and the Netherlands, in the 16th century. Neutral alcohol, juniper berries and malt wine were combined to create a potent spirit, quickly becoming a firm favourite. A century or so later, as the Dutch Golden Age arrived, naval expansion led to the drink spreading across the globe. An allegiance with England against Spain meant British sailors indulged in a pre-battle measure alongside their continental cohorts, giving rise to the phrase ‘Dutch courage’. Returning from the war, those British sailors had already developed a taste for genever. As the Dutch-born William of Orange took the English throne in 1689

he began to encourage domestic distilling, allowing genever to fully embed itself in British drinking culture. Gradually, the malt wine element began to fade as recipes were amended to suit budgets, giving birth to an early incarnation of gin-proper, only sweeter than the London Dry variety popular today. As anyone had the right to distill during this era, the standard soon nose-dived. Eventually successive laws had to be passed to sober up a drunken English population. Back in the Netherlands, genever production continued along with the country’s international prominence overseas. Meanwhile English gin was also

Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Dutch Courage

proliferating across the globe as the British Empire expanded. All this changed with the arrival of the modern age. The Second World War forced genever production in the Netherlands underground as occupying German forces stole copper distilling pots, re-using them to manufacture weapons. Despite this, some equipment survived, and as peace hit Europe the legitimate industry restarted, although by now English gin was far more prominent in most other countries. By the 1970s a price war had broken out amongst Dutch genever producers, killing off many smaller distilleries. This, coupled with the introduction of industrial processes, resulted in ever-lower qualities. Falling out of favour, it seemed the days of the historic drink were numbered. At its peak, Schiedam, considered the home of Dutch genever, boasted some 400 distilleries, by now that number had dwindled to mere scores. “When the tenth generation Mr. Nolet took over our distillery there were around 40 in town, all making a similar product, with price a big problem. He didn’t see a future for the family, stopped production and began focussing on making an artisanal genever again with a more complicated

process and a much higher price, completely against the trend. He saved the company, as we are now the best-selling premium genever in the Netherlands,” explains Dennis Tamse, Nolet Distillery ambassador. “Over many years the flavour similarities between gin and genever have grown, and now people in the Netherlands are looking to put gin on genever labels due to global demand. In our case, we were already looking at making a new gin for the market, and had plenty of recipes in the archives. But we knew there were already so many beautiful London Dry gins, and you need to stand out. So people looked to newer flavours nobody was using. For Nolet those are peach, Turkish rose and raspberry; very far from London Dry.” These new Dutch incarnations are certainly completely different from what most Britons think of as gin. Far fruitier, and so dangerously drinkable, many are actually better quaffed neat on the rocks than mixed with tonic. Brands like Loopuyt, established in 1772 and resurrected in 2013, the award-wining Bobby’s, and Nolet are now arguably amongst the finest varieties in the world, giving more than enough reason to include Schiedam in any Rotterdam itinerary.

Photo: NBTC

FIND THE FINEST GIN IN ROTTERDAM AND SCHIEDAM Nolet Distillery; Hoofdstraat 14, Schiedam The Nolet Distillery offers free tours through the family genever museum and production rooms, and includes a tasting session of products straight from the kettle. No minimum group size, but advance bookings are required. Loopuyt Speakeasy; Schiedam Housed above the law firm that restarted the brand is a ‘hidden’ Loopuyt bar. Check inside the cap of a bottle of Loopuyt Gin, and if you find a token you can book an exclusive two-hour drinking session with a resident mixologist. Ballroom; Witte de Withstraat, Rotterdam In the midst of the famous Witte de Withstraat strip of bars and restaurants sits Ballroom, a gin lover’s paradise that stocks over 52 different varieties from across the globe, including some local brews. Barrelproof; Hoogstraat 49A, Rotterdam Selling itself as ‘the world’s smallest cocktail boutique’, this beautiful 1920s-themed shop stocks a mouth-watering selection of spirits, including Bobby’s gin. Inside you will find elegant leather furnishings, an antique cash register, and knowledgeable staff. Issue 26 | February 2016 | 43

Discover Benelux | Hotel of the Month | Luxembourg

TOP: Winter Garden Breakfast Room. BELOW: Light and colour in the lobby.


Far from Les Misérables! Centrally placed in Luxembourg City, the recently opened Victor Hugo Hotel is modern and proud of it, blending convenience with conviviality. TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: GRAND HOTEL VICTOR HUGO

The Grand Hotel Victor Hugo’s interior design makes a statement to guests the moment they enter the building. Unlike too many traditional city centre hotels, the reception desk is right there to greet you in a business-like fashion – this is certainly a place for the business traveller. But the lobby has character too, its clean lines flooded with light, colourful and quirky furniture underscoring the stylish modernity of the space adjacent to voluminous sofas to welcome the weary.

“Because this is a new hotel we could incorporate the features and comforts that contemporary businessmen and women would expect,” says the Victor Hugo’s manager, Giuseppe Daddato, a precise and energetic figure who complements similar qualities in his establishment: “There’s easy internet access for work, and excellent fitness facilities – including a sauna – so guests can escape their work and de-stress too,” he says. The design team made a fine job of the rooms too. Colourful textiles and feature walls add zesty touches to the predominantly white interiors, and intelligent use of natural and artificial light means they are a world away from the semi-darkness of certain old-fashioned rivals. Situated on its eponymous avenue the Victor Hugo, part of the Best Western network’s select ‘Plus’ brand, the hotel is within ten minutes’ walk of many of

44 | Issue 26 | February 2016

Luxembourg City’s leading financial, cultural and administrative centres, like the Courts of Justice, Grand Theatre and Notre-Dame Cathedral, yet it is just a 15-minute taxi ride from the airport. For guests arriving by car there is the huge Glacis car park 50 metres from the hotel’s door, free between 6pm and 6am. “We realise that getting a good start to the day is extremely important for our guests,” continues Daddato: “And we ensure they get that with a great breakfast menu in a fabulous breakfast space.” His description of the breakfast room is not hyperbole – its seating area designed like an orangery to maximise the light through glazed walls and ceiling. “If they’re energised when they leave here it makes a difference to their working day – and we hope this makes them want to return when they make their next trip!”

Discover Benelux | Event of the Month | The Netherlands

Photo: Marc Heeman


Can you decipher the message? Celebrating a vibrant city that is finally starting to shine in all its glory, will not go by unnoticed by Rotterdam and its inhabitants. This is why Rotterdam Festivals has created a programme where monumental buildings are placed in the spotlight, more so than they already are. Rotterdam viert de stad! (Rotterdam celebrates the city!) will let everyone know what astounding features the city on the Maas River has to offer. TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: STUDIO VOLLAERSZWART

Of course it is not only buildings and structures that are at the centre of all the attention, but it is certainly a start. Take the Erasmus Bridge for example, this year marks its 20th anniversary connecting the city centre to the south of Rotterdam. Without a doubt it is one of the city’s icons, and that is why something had to be done to celebrate this milestone.

Bridge. Madje Vollaers and her companion Pascal Zwart have been decorating cities using the existing architecture for 15 years. They have spent a great deal of time making the theme fit with the festivities. And as the Erasmus Bridge is celebrating this two-decade anniversary, the duo has a special milestone of their own: this year marks their 25-year collaboration.

Rotterdam viert de stad! organised an ‘open call’, a way for designers to send in their ideas for decorating the city. Out of hundreds of applicants, Studio VollaersZwart, coincidentally a duo based in Rotterdam, succeeded with their decoration concept for the Erasmus

So how do you decorate a bridge with this kind of unique design? Its shape is well known to many: a pylon, like a graceful swan’s neck, with long braces coming down from it. “We will decorate the braces with brightly coloured, orange flags,” explains Vollaers. “But we also want-

ed to give our design a deeper meaning. The name of the project is Wish you were here, and to complement this, the flags represent a Morse code. We think it’s a great way to interact with the public.” A specialised company will abseil down the Erasmus Bridge to ensure at least 5,000 flags and six kilometres of wire are hanged correctly. On 20 March this phenomenon officially opens but, despite the immense task, it is nothing Vollaers and her partner cannot handle: “We are right on schedule.” Issue 26 | February 2016 | 45

Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | Luxembourg

R E S TA U R A N T O F T H E M O N T H , L U X E M B O U R G

A Luxembourgish reference in gastronomy Chef Renato Favaro’s personal favourite dish, a fondant of Sicilian aubergines with a coulis of August tomatoes and gambas à la plancha, is an Italian classic to warm the soul in the Grand Duchy. TEXT: HARUN OSMANOVIC | PHOTOS: RESTAURANT FAVARO

For the past 30 years’ chef Renato Favaro has been serving the most delicate food for the palates of his guests in Esch-surAlzette, Luxembourg. With a passion for seasonal produce and homely cuisine, Favaro takes pride in creating gastronomical wonders from simple ingredients. After learning his craft in Italy, he has settled in Luxembourg, but not without making a stop in Alsace where he trained for five more years. “Having had parents who brought me up with the love of food and good cuisine,” says chef Favaro. “I had my nose in the casseroles since my earliest age.” It was in 1989 that Favaro’s doors opened in a beautiful mansion of Esch-sur-Alzette, 46 | Issue 26 | February 2016

which was refurbished to host today up to 40 guests. There he delights his clientele with Italian specialties, including classics revisited with white truffles like his flavourful fettuccine façon carbonara. “Although my main inspiration is central Italy, I have the chance, here in Luxembourg, to create dishes from the whole country, revisit them and fuse them with French, Japanese or even Thai touches,” Favaro explains. A visit at Favaro’s is a time to relax in its modern, welcoming and rather luxurious atmosphere. Allow yourself to be guided by the chef who takes orders himself and explains each dish to his guests, helping you choose the right combinations, the

spices, the right pasta for your taste and even the inventive vegetarian dishes of his creation. With four or five menus designed to fit every purse, Renato Favaro is democratising gastronomy, because good food is meant to be shared. “I was born with this instinctive pleasure of cooking,” Favaro explains. “It is in the gut, I was lucky enough to be able to answer that calling, develop it and share it with people.” After 40 years of experience, the passion of Renato Favaro still burns as high as ever, creating dishes with profound love and care.

Discover Benelux | Restaurant & Event of the Month | Belgium

The palace of Asian fusion

Their mouth-watering, homemade delicacies are a true sight to behold. Prepared by trained chefs, the Asian dishes of Sushi Palace Ghent send you on a culinary rollercoaster in an oriental atmosphere. Upon entering the restaurant, you immediately smell the fragrant ingredients used in the Asian cuisine: “From the fish to the vegetables, everything we use is fresh,” says Nisha Gurung,


spokesperson for Sushi Palace Ghent. “We chose quality over quantity. We always use fresh products so we can keep both our chefs and clients happy.” In 2013 Sushi Palace Ghent was fully renovated, the walls were painted in warm, orange colours and the ceiling was crafted out of darkbrown wood, creating a modern and sanguine atmosphere: “We developed from a take-away to an attractive and welcoming restaurant. Nowadays our customers are coming here for our dishes and the atmosphere.” The restaurant serves Chinese and Thai cuisine as well as a large variety of homemade sushi, including the popular avocado-salmon rolls and the tuna-cucumber rolls. Another of Sushi Palace’s specialities is ‘the boat’ which is, as the name suggests, a miniature boat filled with a delicious selection of their best sushi. The restaurant’s service is top notch and has been recognised at the prestigious Belgian Horeca Awards. Combined with the expertise of the chefs, this results in many happy customers: almost 80 per cent are regulars who have

been coming to the restaurant since it opened six years ago. Looking to the future, Gurung has some exciting plans: “We will soon start mixing different sushi ingredients, taking sushi to the next level, making it even more worth to come and pay us a visit. For sure.”

Accessible excellence at the Flagey Piano Days TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: FLAGEY PIANO DAYS

To celebrate its third edition, the Flagey Piano Days offer a cacophony of concerts to please the ears of piano aficionados of all ages and backgrounds in one of the best acoustic settings in the world. This February, Flagey welcomes piano enthusiasts to rub shoulders with long-established names of the international scene in the different studios of its Art Deco building. Such names include the Russian queen of piano, Elisso Virsaladze, with the David Oistrakh quartet, but also Anna Vinnitskaya, winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2007. Another much anticipated performance will be by Abdullah Ibrahim, mentored by none other than jazz legend Duke Ellington. “We wanted this year to offer a wide variety of artists and genres, from classical to jazz to contemporary… including a more digital per-

formance by rising star Christophe Chassol. We pride ourselves on the accessibility of the Flagey Piano Days so that as many people as possible can enjoy this festival, which is also why we have kept our prices very affordable,” says Gilles Ledure, general director of Flagey. In an atmosphere of creativity and music, guests are invited to try out their own skills on different pianos located in the corridors and in the main hall of Flagey, to lure passer-by’s into a lullaby of piano harmonies. A special workshop will be organised for the younger attendees in the form of a piano composition for ten hands. Complementing the Flagey Piano Days is a selection of films proposed by the Cinematek, bringing piano to the big screen.

Abdullah Ibrahim

Eliso Virsaladze

Flagey Piano Days is held at Flagey in Brussels from 18 to 21 February. Issue 26 | February 2016 | 47

Discover Benelux | Culture | Festivals & Events

Enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Tournai’s Grand Place and belfry

Tournai: Belgium’s best-kept secret TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS

Tournai is, jointly with Tongeren, the oldest Belgian city and has played a key role in the country’s history. Situated close to the French border, it is a charming place of 30,000 inhabitants. It was once the first capital of France, and there are many testimonies to its vibrant past. These include two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the 70-metre belfry and Notre-Dame Cathedral. The city offers something for everyone, whether you like culture, architecture or the great outdoors. From Romanesque to contemporary style, Tournai is one of few Belgian cities to have such a wide variety of architectural styles. Henry VIII even occupied the city, which was once one of the richest bishoprics in Europe. Visitors can see Henry VIII’s circular stone fortress in the residential castle quarter with its seven-metre thick walls. Highlights include the annual Beer Festival, when the city is host to dozens of ar48 | Issue 26 | February 2016


tisanal beer makers. Entry is free and visitors can sample over 100 Belgian beers and meet the brewers in the historic centre of one of the most remarkable cities in Belgium. Now in its sixth edition, the Beer Festival will take place in March. In 1092, when the plague was devastating the Tournai area, inhabitants sought safety and solace in the cathedral. Since then the city has held the Great Procession of Tournai to commemorate its gratitude to God. According to Jean Francois Dumoulin, promotional officer at Tournai Tourist Office, despite the inhabitants’ calm demeanour, they are “always ready to celebrate and are known to have a party for any occasion”. Another key landmark is the Pont des Trous. It is one of the world’s three remaining military river bridges, and one of the most prestigious vestiges of medieval military architecture in Belgium. For art lovers, head to the Museum of Fine Arts,

which is the sole museum designed by Victor Horta. It boasts the only works by Manet exhibited in Belgium, and also has an impressive collection including works by Bruegel, Rubens, Monet, Seurat and Van Gogh, and Tournai-born Rogier van der Weyden. For those who prefer nature, the countryside is a mere four-and-a-half kilometres from the city centre and there are many scenic cycling routes to be discovered. Dumoulin adds that, regardless of its compact size, Tournai is “beautiful, calm, and safe; it has lots to do and is ideally situated for exploring the region”.

The Beer Festival will take place in Tournai, Belgium, on 19 and 20 March.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Festivals & Events

Festival International Echternach – a classy experience TEXT: SONJA IRANI

Ever since 1975 a small town in Luxembourg has been hosting an internationally renowned classical music festival. Aside from attracting famous names such as Benny Goodman, Anne-Sophie Mutter or George Benson, the festival has also drawn attention to one of the oldest and most beautiful regions in Europe. “For 40 years, the festival has had the ambition to invite world-famous artists and ensembles to Luxembourg as well as promoting young, talented composers,” says Benedikt Fohr, artistic director (classic). “The Echternach Festival, located just 30 kilometres from our capital, was important at the time because the Philharmonie did not yet exist in Luxembourg and there were far less cultural institutions.” Today, the festival offers something for every generation. “The main focus points


are of course the classical symphony and chamber music concerts with international stars,” says Fohr. “But there are also family concerts, master classes, international jazz concerts and open air concerts with music companies from Echternach and the surrounding area.” After last year’s autumn edition, this year will see the festival taking place in the late spring. The period from May to July is usually characterised by warmer weather and is therefore perfectly suited for discovering the region’s other gems. “Echternach is the oldest town in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and one of the oldest cultural sites in Europe,” explains Fohr. “As such, it offers stunning churches and historical places, many of which are used as concert venues. Not to mention the French-influenced culinary delights, our numerous vineyards and beautiful nature.”

So what can music lovers expect from Echternach 2016? “Daniel Müller Schott will take part as our artist-in-residence,” reveals Fohr about the line-up. “Other prominent guests include the sisters Baiba and Lauma Skride, the King Singers as well as Sergei Krylov with his Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra and German Brass. Furthermore, there will be a focus on string quartets.” For the first time in its history, Echternach will also host a ‘festival off’ with young artists from Luxembourg giving free concerts at various public venues. Festival International Echternach is held in Echternach, Luxembourg from 16 May to 16 July. Issue 26 | February 2016 | 49

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A city of festivities Located in the province of Hainaut, the city of Binche is a well-kept secret. A former mining and textile town, Binche is revered for its unique architectural heritage, its handmade lace and locally brewed sparkling wine and beers. Above all, this city of 32,500 inhabitants is celebrated for its world-renowned carnival, the first folklore festival to be recognised by UNESCO in 2003. TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS: CITY OF BINCHE AND THE INTERNATIONAL CARNIVAL AND MASK MUSEUM

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June the museum will show an exhibition of Czech masks, and in November there will be an expo on Japanese masks.

Local delights

Binche is surrounded by walls, including 22 towers. The city had its heyday in the 16th century under the rule of Emperor Charles V’s sister, Mary of Hungary. She spent much time in Binche and replaced the old feudal castle with a magnificent Renaissance palace. According to city mayor Laurent Devin, in Binche “you’ll find an unrivalled ambiance and a city that lives the rhythm of the carnival”. He proudly describes the carnival as a “must-see event; people come from five continents, as far as Brazil, China, Russia, Japan and the United States”. Around 100,000 people attend the carnival. Street performances and public displays take place on the Sundays before Ash Wednesday. These include musical acts, dancing, drumming and marching. During the percussion rehearsals, the societies put on their clogs and apertintaille, a special kind of belt, and dance in the procession. The Monday before Ash Wednesday is dedicated to children, with balls to attend and a confetti battle. The focus of the carnival are Gilles, clownlike performers characterised by vibrant costumes, wax masks and wooden clogs. Each carnival has around 1,000 Gilles, aged three to 60, all male. It is considered an honour to be one. Gilles dance to the sound of drums and ward off evil spirits with sticks. They don large hats decorated with ostrich feathers and march with baskets of oranges, which they throw into the crowd. The oranges are seen as gifts which bring good luck. As such, the carnival’s origins remain unclear. It is one of the oldest and most par-

ticular shrove customs in the world. “The carnival is believed to have begun during the Roman or Greek eras. It was likely linked to religious cults or the veneration of God,” says Christel Deliège, director of the International Carnival and Mask Museum in Binche.

The International Carnival and Mask Museum The museum is one of a kind. Opened 40 years ago to show the universality of masks across all cultures, this year it showcases an exhibition with masks and posters from each year since its founding. In total there are 30,000 pieces, including 10,000 masks from almost every country in Europe, and certainly from all continents. There are also costumes, ritual objects, puppets and musical instruments, as well as sheet music and iconographic documents. The items showcase the cultural wealth of the world we live in, allowing visitors to discover the traditions, myths and beliefs of generations past. The oldest mask is from the 12th century. “We are unique in the world – it is the only museum of ethnography with a general discourse on masks,” says director Deliège. “We can learn much about humanity: masks are a fabulous tool for learning about society.” The huge variety of objects include face masks, helmet masks, headdress masks and belly masks. They are made of wood, plastic, feathers, animal skin and straw. Their functions are vast: initiation ceremonies, funerals, agricultural rituals and carnivals. Each mask demonstrates the social, political, religious, cultural and historic features of society at the time. In

Besides the carnival and museum, Binche offers many attractions for visitors. These include the entirely preserved city walls, the Hotel de Ville and the belfry, which was recognised as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1999. The compact city has a strong tradition in the arts, with an academy of fine arts and a music conservatory, as well as a history of handmade lace. There are also many scenic walks in the surrounding countryside, as well as cycle routes. Mayor Devin recommends for visitors to try Ruffus, Belgium’s renowned sparkling wine produced in the Agaises vineyard nearby. Local artisanal brewery La Binchoise can be visited, or you can simply sample its vast range of beers. In terms of food, a must-try is “a double crêpe filled with goat’s cheese and butter,” says Devin. This city’s inhabitants have a real joie de vivre, a great sense of humour and enjoy celebrating, but also working together to make the carnival a success. So much so that even the city’s mayor takes part in the action. “I was a Gille for 26 years until I was elected mayor. Although I no longer dress up, in my heart I’ll always be one,” says Devin.

Issue 26 | February 2016 | 51


From a devastated mother to a mysterious seductress Mata Hari was like a turn-of-the-century reality star: she was sexy and exotic and had a knack for self-publicity. Known for her erotic dances, affairs with powerful men and a mysterious character, the Dutch-born seductress and alleged spy became one of the most iconic women of the 20th century. TEXT: ELLA PUT | IMAGES:FRIES MUSEUM / HET NATIONALE BALLET

The Dutch years

Margaretha led a luxurious upbringing, dressing in beautiful clothes and being educated at private schools. For her sixth birthday she was even given a small carriage, attracting a great deal of attention in the streets of Leeuwarden. But fortune shifted in 1889 when Margaretha was 15. Her father went bankrupt, divorced her mother and the Zelle family fell apart.

Born as Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in 1876 in Leeuwarden, Mata Hari’s childhood was a far cry from her later thrilling Parisian nightlife habitat. She was the daughter of the eccentric shopkeeper Adam Zelle and Antje van der Meulen, who came from a well-off Frisian family and whose looks Margaretha inherited.

From here, Margaretha’s life seemed to go from bad to worse. She had an affair with her – much older – employer from the kindergarten where she worked, causing a scandal. No doubt these were the first signs of a rebellious lady unafraid to live life by her own rules: “Almost half of her

Almost a century after her death, Mata Hari’s mysterious heritage continues to captivate both historians and Hollywood producers. But how did a girl from a quaint Dutch city became the archetypical femme fatale and France’s public enemy number one?

52 | Issue 26 | February 2016

life she lived in the Netherlands, so naturally some Dutch memories, such as the scandalous divorce of her parents or her later affair with her employer, determined the woman she would eventually become,” Yves Rocourt, curator of the Mata Hari exhibition in the Fries Museum explains. By 1895 Margaretha was ready to put all the misery behind her. Answering to an advert in which Dutch army captain Rudolf MacLeod was looking for a wife, Margaretha got married. At 39, he was a well-respected man living in the Dutch East-Indies; she was 19 and looking for an escape to faraway places.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Unravelling the Mystery of Mata Hari

having no resources to go up against her ex-husband. She was devastated, but while MacLeod may have been a bad husband, he had always been a good father. And with this thought, Margaretha hid her grief and packed her bags for Paris, starting her new life as Mata Hari.

The rise to fame

The birth of Mata Hari With MacLeod’s noble Scottish background, Margaretha entered the Dutch upper class. They had two children, a boy and a girl, and moved to an island east of Jakarta. With their finances on sound footing, Margaretha’s life seemed at ease. But the marriage was by no means blissful. MacLeod was an unfaithful alcoholic who took his frustrations out on his wife. To make matters worse, her children fell ill from the treatment of syphilis. Jeanne, the eldest, survived, but Norman died. An unhappy, mourning Margaretha found distraction in her studies, observing Indonesian traditions and even joining a local dance company where she learned the tribal dances. Playing the queen in a local performance of The Crusaders, Margaretha discovered her love for the limelight. Mata Hari, Indonesian for ‘light of day’, became her stage name. This performance, which brought her a lot of (male) attention, also marked the end of her marriage. After moving back to the Netherlands, she officially divorced and gained full custody of her daughter Jeanne. But MacLeod never paid child support, making life very difficult for Margaretha. During a visit of Jeanne to her father, MacLeod decided not to let her return to her mother. Margaretha was forced to accept the situation,

Taking a job as a dancer in a nightclub, she performed an oriental act inspired by her time in Java. She openly flaunted her body and became an overnight success. Shrouding her persona in mystery, a common thing for an artist to do at that time, she invented colourful stories about her past. She would tell people she was a member of a Scottish aristocratic family or even a Javanese princess. With her audience thinking Mata Hari had learned these sacred Indonesian rituals since childhood, her sexual dances became a more respectable form of entertainment. Her style and bohemian attitude made her a popular figure in the Parisian social scene. She had many affairs with high-ranking military officers and politicians, which allowed her to lead a bon vivant lifestyle with luxurious trips, clothes and jewellery. But this was about to change.

A tragic ending As the First World War began, Mata Hari’s free spirit and powerful connections were called into question. Was she just an extravagant dancer, or a dangerous seductress and a spy? “Normally, in war time, people decide to live sober. But Mata Hari was not showing any signs of slowing down; she continued her eccentric lifestyle and affairs, travelling all across Europe while the continent was at war,” Rocourt tells. In February 1917 the French arrested Mata Hari in her hotel room in Paris. She was accused of spying for the Germans, after intelligence agents intercepted messages about a German spy called H-21, later identified as Mata Hari. Until today it remains unclear whether Mata Hari had actually passed on any information, since these messages were in a code already broken by the French.

© Petrovsky and Ramone

Costume design, revue by Francois-Noel Cherpin.

SEE MATA HARI’S LEGACY TODAY As one of the most iconic and mysterious women of the previous century, Mata Hari has inspired movies and plays: “Every story of a female spy is inspired by hers. Furthermore she has become the archetype of the femme fatale,” Rocourt explains. Honouring Mata Hari as a woman who repeatedly reinvented herself, the Dutch Nationale Ballet is to perform a new ballet based on her life. The performance choreographed by Ted Brandsen and with music from Tarik O’Reagan can be seen from 6 until 25 February at the National Opera and Ballet in Amsterdam.

After a short trial, Mata Hari was found guilty of espionage and accused of causing the death of 50,000 soldiers. On the morning of 15 October 1917, a firing squad executed Mata Hari. She was 41 years old. Issue 26 | February 2016 | 53

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The Tallest Man On Earth Photo: De Atelier

ANIMA Photo: Gilles Moins

Out & About Even in the dead of winter, when outdoor events seem near impossible to enjoy, there are plenty of things happening in the Benelux that will warm your heart and make February a surprisingly sunny time. TEXT: ELLA PUT

The Tallest Man On Earth Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 2 February Performing songs from his new album Dark Bird Is Home, folk singer The Tallest Man On Earth pays a tribute to old records but also experiments with new sounds. His veteran fans will experience a feast of recognition and new fans await a whole new genre of music live at Atelier.

ANIMA - The Brussels Animation Film Festival Brussels, Belgium 5 February – 14 February This is arguably one of the funniest festivals in Belgium. Promoting the imaginative world of animation, the festival is a true joy for everyone who enjoys animated movies. This year’s 35th edition of 54 | Issue 26 | February 2016

ANIMA will have a special focus on Japan and the United Kingdom, countries with incredibly prolific animation industries. Aside from the main events in Brussels, parts of the programme will be shown in cities all over Belgium.

Bruges Beer Festival Bruges, Belgium 6 February – 7 February With more than 82 exquisite breweries participating and 300 delicious Belgian beers to sample, Bruges will turn into ‘the place to beer’ during the first weekend of February. Enjoy a tasty Belgian beer while walking through the characteristic Medieval city centre, which is known as the Venice of the North for its beautiful canals.

The Miffy Museum Utrecht, the Netherlands 6 February The new Miffy Museum will open its doors to the public this month. Inside the museum visitors can discover a world inspired by Dick Bruna’s picture books. It is the perfect place for young children to learn more about Miffy and her friends. You can visit her house, put Miffy to bed or go to the zoo and play with the animals.

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament Rotterdam, the Netherlands 8 February – 14 February At the annual World Tennis Tournament, the crème de la crème of the tennis world comes together to wow the

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audience while defending their titles in breath-taking matches. Furthermore, there are some exciting side events where you can meet the players and win VIP tickets for the matches.

ART Rotterdam Rotterdam, the Netherlands 11 February – 14 February At the international ART Rotterdam art fair, 70 international galleries, selected on their quality and originality, will display work from emerging talent and present the latest developments in visual art. The events is held at the distinctive Van Nelle factory, a UNESCO Heritage building. ART is in fact the only art fair in the world exclusively focussing on autonomous design and the current developments within the field.

Delft Blues Festival Delft, the Netherlands 12 February – 14 February While known for its distinctive blue pottery, a different type of blues will take over the city of Delft. Visitors to the festival can enjoy the best blues performances in an intimate atmosphere. In addition to more than 50 performances, there is also a large variety of so-called ‘specials’, from a harmonica workshop to a blues quiz.

Hieronymus Bosch Den Bosch, the Netherlands 13 February – 8 May This year marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Den Bosch painter Hieronymus Bosch. To honour the late medieval master, the Noord-Brabants Museum is showcasing the biggest and most impressive collection of his work. A unique exhibition called Hieronymus Bosch - Visions of A Genius will take its visitors into the magical world of the painter famous for his ‘devilish’ depictions.

The Miffy Museum Photo: Emmely van Mierlo & Corné Clemens

Issue 26 | February 2016 | 55

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ABOVE & TOP RIGHT: ART Rotterdam. Photos: Ula Mirowska. BELOW: Van Doesburg Exposition. Photo: Bozar BOTTOM RIGHT: Deborah J. Carter. Photo: North Sea Jazz Club

North Sea Jazz Club Amsterdam, the Netherlands 13 February American jazz singer Deborah J. Carter is back with her brand new album Diggin’ The Duke. Her latest release honours the music of the late pianist Duke Ellington. With adventurous harmonies, swing, Latin and fusion rhythms, Deborah J. Carter will wow her audience during an intimate dinner concert at the North Sea Jazz Club.

In just five years the Luxembourg City Film Festival has become the country’s leading cinema event. It has an extensive programme featuring national and international contemporary fiction films, documentaries and workshops. Furthermore, the festival hosts several side events such as an award ceremony, an exhibition and special screenings.

Van Doesburg Exposition Hair! Human Hair in Fashion and Art Utrecht, the Netherlands 20 February – 29 May Hair is a sign of male might and female seduction. It can even be incorporated into jewellery and fashion items. Surprisingly, hair has never been the subject of comprehensive research or larger exhibitions, until now. Hair! focusses on the developments of hair within fashion and visual arts, and showcases the work of international artists who have been inspired by this specific material.

Brussels, Belgium 26 February – 29 May This exhibition about Theo van Doesburg will take you back to art at the beginning of the 20th century. Van Doesburg was a contemporary of Piet Mondrian with whom he founded the art movement De Stijl in the Netherlands. Learn all about Van Doesburg’s travels across Europe, where he spread his abstract visual language in paintings, buildings, clothing and furniture.

Stadsschouwburg Utrecht: PLAN B Luxembourg City Film Festival Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 25 February – 6 March 56 | Issue 26 | February 2016

Utrecht, the Netherlands 29 February - 1 March In this performance filled with surprising illusions and bucket loads of humour, the

four men of the French group Plan B will surprise their audience as they cling to and slide over a diagonal wall, playing a game with gravity. Jumping from one side to other, they will perform a real-life computer game.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Carnival Calendar

Carnival Calendar Dress up in a colourful outfit and drink, dance and be merry until dawn. In the first weekend of February the Benelux is celebrating Carnival! TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: NBTC

Carnival in Maastricht Maastricht, the Netherlands 5 February – 9 February The further you travel south in the Netherlands, the more exuberant Carnival gets. Maastricht, being at the very bottom of the country, lights up in the colours of Carnival (red, green and yellow) with festive parades, public parties and people dressed up in the most colourful costumes. It is also known for great Carnival artists such as Beppie Kraft and Fabrizio.

Boetegewoeëne Boètezitting Venlo, the Netherlands 6 February Just like most Carnival events, the Boetegewoeëne Boètezitting in Venlo is a tradition that goes back many years. With events all over town and performances from several Carnival artists, the Boètezitting is an exquisite festival that will show you how to celebrate this wonderful event and sing along with every song.

Aalst Carnival Aalst, Belgium 6 – 8 February With its authentic Carnival parade moving through the streets of the town, Carnival in Aalst is a must-visit. With its bezemdans (broom dance) and ajuinworp (union throw-

ing) on Carnivals Monday and the Voil Jeanetten Parade on Tuesday, where young men dressed as women run through the streets with giant bras and old corsets, this Carnival feast is one-of-a-kind and a whole lot of fun.

Carnival in Sjassemig Heerlen, the Netherlands 7 February With the biggest Carnival parade in the Netherlands, Heerlen cannot be skipped. You will see over 180 colourful and beautifully decorated floats while enjoying the music and the atmosphere in the crowd. Dress up and soak up the town’s lively vibe.

Hieronymus Bosch Carnival Parade Den Bosch, the Netherlands 7 February This year, Den Bosch will honour the great medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch by organising a plethora of events. One of these events will be the exquisite Hieronymus Bosch-themed Carnival parade. Come and enjoy the cheerful atmosphere and wonderful costumes in this colourful parade with a very special theme.

Carnival Parade Diekirch Diekirch, Luxembourg 7 February More than 50 wagons will roam to the streets in the Diekirch Parade. The town will be filled with groups of pirates, clowns and mermaids, all there to have a good time, throw candy and party until dawn. Will you join them? Issue 26 | February 2016 | 57

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Kahn do no wrong Wyatt Kahn is riding a wave right now. Tipped as ‘one to watch’ only three years ago, Kahn’s rise has been astronomical. If 2014 was a good year, with shows in Zurich and Los Angeles, then 2015 surpassed all expectations – solo presentations in Berlin, St. Louis and New York, as well as being held in collections including the Pompidou in Paris and MOCA in Los Angeles. 2016 continues in much the same way for one of art’s mercurial talents, with his first solo show on Belgian soil. Xavier Hufkens will show Kahn’s idiosyncratic oeuvre, primarily examining the grey area between painting and sculpture. His ‘paintings’ – I use the term loosely – are a construction of smaller canvases forming fractured and abstracted wall-based works. Kahn often strips away any reference by using raw canvas panels, meaning that the viewer is


forced to work only with the physical forms of the panel. Hence, the works become an elegant investigation into representation in two dimensions and three dimensions. Kahn has worked with subject material such as windows and rock formations before, but although there is a resemblance of these elements, the insistent flatness of the panels creates the dynamic tension that has propelled Khan to the vanguard of contemporary abstraction. He follows in a long line of his fellow American, abstract artists, whose polished works influenced him. In contrast to them though, Khan wants to show of the errors in his works, the misaligned corners, and delicate edges to reveal what he calls “a very human experience of imperfection”. If you wish to experience imperfection for yourself, then head down to Wyatt Kahn at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels on show until 27 February.



Choice by Wyatt Kahn.

Matt Antoniak is a visual artist and writer living and working in Newcastle, UK. He works mainly in painting and drawing and is a founding member of the art collective M I L K.


Westmalle Tripel This style of top-fermented beer uses three times the amount of malt of standard Trappist ales, hence the term ‘tripel’. A version of the beer was brewed from 1934, but the recipe and name was altered in 1956. It has remained unchanged since. Westmalle Tripel’s strength is a result of secondary bottle fermentation that also produces fine bubbles. Consequently the beer is affectionately nicknamed the Champagne of the Campine, after the heath and wetland region straddling the Belgian-Dutch border. Bottles should be rested for around a week after purchase and transport to allow the yeast to settle. This means the ale will be clean and golden when served in Westmalle’s goblet-shaped glass. The character of the beer evolves with 58 | Issue 26 | February 2016

age. The bitterness of the hops mellows and the citrusy, banana-like fruit tones of the ale soften. Yet even when young, Westmalle Tripel is a complex, multi-layered beer with a long, pleasant aftertaste. Westmalle Tripel is the product of a Trappist brewery, built in 1836 when the monastery became an abbey. It has since been expanded and modernised to include a computer-controlled brewing hall, though monks continue to oversee the brewing process. Like all authentic Trappist products, the beer is not brewed for profit. Sales finance the upkeep of the abbey and its monks. Any surplus is used for charitable purposes. So you could even argue that purchasing a bottle is a donation to a good cause.

Brewer: Brouwerij der Trappisten van Westmalle Strength: 9.5 per cent Stuart Forster was named Journalist of the Year at the 2015 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.

Your Shortcut to Scandinavia Bergen


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