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First night in Brussels
Of course, the flight was delayed a further 1.5 hrs — by the time I got to the hotel, it was 10 pm. Crashed at 11, woke up at 3, crashed at 6 again, woke up at 9. Hope that’s not a promise of things to come.
Massive noise outside my room around 11 pm; presumably related to the soccer. Turns out it was Switzerland–Turkey. Reasonable guess that wasn’t the vocal Swiss contingent of Brussels whooping it up.
EDIT: Czech Republic–Turkey, rather. Like I care… 🙂
What little I’ve seen of Brussels on the drive from the airport (Zaventem) looked cute enough; I will be getting in what little tourism I can this late morning.
I’ve already worked out a conversational gambit for les Bruxellois:
- Start speaking in bad French
- Apologise in French for not speaking in Flemish
- Hope for an opening to switch to English
I don’t know if this is the best thought through of plans; it probably offends the French and the Flemish equally. Then again, I probably got away with the Flamandic Apology with the cab driver (3o€—there’s no way I was going to try and tame the Brussels metro at 9:30 pm of a Sunday). I hear French even slower than I speak it, so I missed every second sentence, but it was something like:
Oh, that’s alright sir, as long as I get you to your destination, I don’t care if you speak to me in French, Flemish, or even English.
Ahah. I think my Grenoble gambit is working for me again. Last time I was in a Francophone country, I was across the border from Italy, and didn’t nasalise anything. So everyone I spoke French to assumed I was Italian. Which is probably better than assuming I was English.
I’m trying to pick up hints of linguistic affiliation from the locals.
- GPS Navigator has street names in French; check.
- Hotelier responds to fluent French query without flinching; possible check.
- Hotelier chats to other hotelier in French; check.
- Sign outside airport welcomes you to *VLANDERS*, verdaamt, *VLANDERS*; check. (Please tell that’s not why Brussels has two airports, Zaventem in Flanders and Charleroi in Wallonia. That would be so… predictable.)
- The phone sex ads on Flemish TV pinpoint the sample Hot Babes Waiting for Your Call in Northern Belgium; check.
- The Crazy Wacky Kids from French-language TV do a Reality TV tour of Wallonia, just Wallonia, sacré; check.
- French language channels on TV come before Spanish TV, which comes before Flemish language channels; check.
- Blogger welcomes me and invites me to aanmelden in Dutch; check.
- Google has the streetnames in Dutch not French; check. (You say Karel de Grootelaan, I say boulevard Charlemagne, let’s call the whole thing post-Carolingian Europe.)
OK. I’ll vaguely wander in the direction of Grand Place; should not be a big deal: