Tintin country

tintin

Belgium is the home of Tintin in “The Adventures of Tintin” comics

Because it is the headquarters of the European Union, Belgium is officially known as the Capital of Europe! What the heck! How can it be when 95% of their business establishments don’t even honor the internationally accepted Visa cards! All petrol stations in the country do not accept Visa cards! only their very own Bancontact card! so how can other Europeans driving past the country be expected to re-fill their tanks? (tip: go to neighbouring Luxembourg, it is the country in Europe selling the cheapest petrol!).

Belgium is second to Switzerland as a CASH society (Germany is a runner-up!) The country is deluded with restaurants but only a few accept credit cards!

Their tv ads are stupid! so gross! imagine watching on primetime a seriously obese man wearing tongs! Tongs or string bikini showing the two cheeks of his butt!

The houses in the old town are okay, a mix of architecture from the 17th century. But as soon as you get out of the town, it’s like everything goes – from a melange of boring red brick houses to concrete slabs – no character at all!

chateau

chateau-like houses like this dot the capital

Last Sunday, with nothing to do, we decided to go driving and explore some pretty charming villages (if there are!). Following the sign of a seemingly nice name of a town, we drove and found it. Hardly two minutes of walking, me, armed with a camera, i swear i couldn’t stand the boredom any longer, i had to get back to the car.. quick! this is not an exaggeration!… i am stating a fact! The country is so boring that in the past, we used to spend our weekends driving past the border – to Lille, a chic French town: or to Luxembourg which is two hours away, or to Aachen in Germany (which is another story to tell!).

Tomorrow, we are driving to the Ardennes, the supposedly-beautiful foresty French region. hmmm… remains to be seen

A country of two nations

Belgium is a country of two nations – the Dutch/Flemish speaking North and the French speaking south. These two do not like each other so much that they even have their own French and Flemish regions even in Brussels, a city the same size as Quezon City. Always at odds, but the only thing they share is their dislike towards the Dutch and the French.

We are driving a French-registered car so we are always honked on the road, bullied if you may say. Upon arriving here some two weeks ago, we parked in a seemingly nice open space. the second day, one of the headlights was smashed – intentionally – a “subtle” way of saying ‘Get out of our carpark!’. On another occasion, we saw a Parisian car (you know by the last two digits – 75) and it was repeatedly honked and honked! poor Parisian!

So one minute you are driving at a Flemish area where all the signs are in Dutch, then in another five minutes, all signs are in French! Some three years ago, we wanted to join a gym and we found one in the Flemish area. all the flyers and all information are in Dutch! It’s like saying…..”this establishment is for Flemish only!”

Brugge
Brugges, in the north of Belgium, is a Flemish region.

The Mannekin Pis

manekin pis

The Mannekin Pis 

If Eiffel Tower is the symbol of France, the statue of the Pissing Boy, the Mannekin Pis, is the symbol of Belgium.

Story goes that he saved Brussels from burning because he pissed on the fire meant to burn the city!

My own version would be – and those with Belgian husbands and Belgian sons-in-law, don’t get mad at me, I am only speaking at what i observe – it represents what the Belgians are! just pissing everywhere they want to! (Bayani Fernando should go to Belgium!). But in fairness, they are not the only Europeans who pee everywhere, the French are just as bad! On driving on French roads, a lot of times we see men, stopping their cars, turn their backs from the road, no cover, and just pee…to all their hearts’ content! with no care even if a whole load of people are walking pass.

De-stressing in Brussels

A very stressful work week, so how do you make the most out of your weekend… in Brussels?

GO SWIMMING!

– the best way to de-stress! i swear, i saw my hubby looking 10 years younger as soon as he got out of the water!

the public indoor pool is just a 15-minute walk from the flat. consider the walk as part of the exercise regime, also saves money on metro ticket! so while the hubby swam, i was in a room doing the stretching alongside other ladies.

by the way, for you parents out there, it’s really fun to take your little kids go swimming with you on weekends. how cute it is watching those daddies being hugged by their defenseless little girls and boys in the water… i cannot explain but try it and you will find out what i mean!

a family tip courtesy of mariadams

More about Belgium…..


If i am given a free one day holiday and asked to choose between Amsterdam and Brussels, I would choose Amsterdam because i just find it much much prettier, with its canals and bicycles and flowers markets and architecture (but bring your own food because Dutch food is tasteless!)

So okay, but you are sent by your company to attend a seminar in Brussels, might as well make the most out of it! The Grand Place and the few alleys surrounding it is the place to go. Go on a good sunny day (it’s mostly grey in this part of Europe) so you can take photos of the beautiful buildings on the square. Go back at night so you can watch the light and sound show where the town hall building lights up in different colours, dancing with the music of Bach, Mozart, etc.

Brussels can well take pride of its food! Eating is their favorite pastime and restaurants are simply everywhere even in small communities like where we live. Wall-to-wall dining is what they call of the narrow alleys just outside of the Grand Place, because both sides are packed with tables where diners are eating elbow-to-elbow, slurping their mussels accompanied by crispy french fries! Dining in Brussels is so much fun! At reasonable prices, you can get a 3-course meal, with accompanying “amuse-bouche” or appetizer served à la 5-star! On the other hand, if you are really scrimping on the Euros, go to Chinatown, behind the Marriott Hotel in town where you can find Hongkong style eateries.

Belgian chocolates – if the Swiss make tasty chocolates, I think the Belgians make them best!  Their famous snack is the “gaufre” or Belgian waffle dipped in chocolate.

And of course, their beer! I don’t really drink beer, after my first taste in high school of San Miguel beer, followed by some adventurous sip of Singha, Budweiser or Heineken… I swore..never again! but Leffe light…..it’s sooo mild for me! On a hot summer’s day, an icy cold Leffe soothes my thirst more than coke!

If you see the Stella Artois sign outside of bars, that is a Belgian beer!

 Belgian beer

Belgian beer