Something To Declare: Icons of the east; crime in Belgium

Destination of the week: icons of the east, in western Germany

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Icon Museum in Recklinghausen, near Dusseldorf (00 49 2361 50 1935; www.kunst-in-recklinghausen). It holds the most significant collection of Eastern Orthodox church art outside the Orthodox countries. Opened in 1956, the museum boasts more than 600 icons, embroideries and miniatures. You can reach Dusseldorf by air from a range of UK airports, or by rail from London Waterloo and Ashford via Brussels on Eurostar (08705 186 186,

Also in western Germany, the Byzantine-style Russian Church in Baden-Baden is well worth a visit. Vladimir Potemkin and Bernhard Belzer built this spectacular structure between 1880-1882.

For ideas about Christmas markets in Germany to visit, see

A story published in The Independent has won top prize in the Germany Travel Writers' Awards. 'Worms Turns', by Simon Calder, appeared in The Traveller in June. He wins a luxury weekend for two in Trier, which might stop him whingeing about the increase in airline tax.

Warning of the week: crime in Belgium

"Be extra vigilant in Brussels and Antwerp at major railway stations, on the underground, buses and trams, particularly late at night". This week the Foreign Office issued unusually specific advice for UK visitors to Belgium:

"Thieves operate in the vicinity of the Brussels Gare du Midi (Eurostar terminal)." It also warns of pickpockets on international trains: "Never leave luggage or coats unattended."

Motorists in Belgium could also be targetted:

"It is increasingly common for thieves on motorbikes to break a window and snatch valuables when the vehicle is stationary.

Car jacking, especially of up-market vehicles, remains a risk."