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(Greek Linguistics)


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:


Anonymous said...

Hi Doc,
Amit n Manish here. keep us posted . Just to let u know that we are following ur blog!!

Anonymous said...

(Please tell that's not why Brussels has two airports, Zaventem in Flanders and Charleroi in Wallonia. That would be so... predictable.)

Brussels has one airport: the one in Flanders.

The other one is Charleroi, and is only called Brussels for marketing reasons, so that passengers on low-cost airlines such as Ryanair who fly to those more-out-of-the-way-but-cheaper-for-the-airline airports know where they're going to.

Charleroi is as much a Brussels airport as Hahn is a Frankfurt one, or Lübeck a Hamburg one.

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