Wednesday, 3 June 2015

And Brussels, of course

I almost did not visit Brussels at all - L. and I intended to go to Bruges, the Venice of Northern Europe, but woke up with too little daytime left for a trip that takes two hours one way - so we went to explore the capital. 
Atomium was probably the coolest thing I saw during the Brussels visit. I had very low expectations, thinking it is just another tourist attraction, but look at the photo! It is so cool - and close to the airport, at least by car, if you stil lhave some time before the flight takes off. Each ball is a a museum, interconnected with escalators.  
We walked and walked, visited curiosity shops and parks and disagreed on whether the royal castle was inside or outside town. Evidence: in town. I am right in front of the royal castle, where, just as in Stockholm, the royal family has not resided for years and years.
Biggest cultural "shock factors"during this brief visit: the Belgian subway is very empty and the main thing about the french fries that are sold on every tourist-dominated corner is not the fries but the sauce.
It is also interesting to see how the French and the Flemish culture meet - but to be more precise, Belgium has been under German and Spanish regime and became independent from the Netherlands in 1830. After the second World War a piece of Germany was given up to Belgium, making German one of the three official languages (1 %, according to the CIA World Factbook). When crossing the different regions with the different official languages, the names of cities change accordingly! More unexpected is that it is - as I was told - according to the law forbidden to speak French in adjacent regions of Brussels at schools and other institutions to keep the Flemish intact, or however that extremism can be explained. Nor does everybody speak both French and Flemish. In Leuven, for example, I could not order food at a restaurant in French, as the waitors spoke Flemish only.
There is still more to explore, of course. I am sure I will be back here again soon!

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