Thursday, May 2, 2013

One month: 5 things I like and 5 that I dislike in Brussels

After the first month in Brussels, let's make a cold analysis, picking a short list of what I like and don't like of this place.

Things I DO NOT like:
1. The dirtiness. Streets are not washed every day like in Vienna but it is also a matter of culture. Dog poo is everywhere. Garbage bags are exposed in front of the door the day before the collection. Buildings and trains are dusty and filth, outside as inside, and they stink. You can often hear stories about rats in the apartments but nobody relates their presence to the general lack of cleaning.
2. Public transits. Never on time, especially buses that are stuck in the traffic. Dirty, old and never renewed, especially some tram lines and the underground. Not reliable at all. Very often it is quicker on foot than by bus or tram.
3. The racial hate between Flemish and French-speaking people. For a foreigner is already difficult to learn one of the two languages but then you are treated in a different way depending on the language you choose. Many French-speakers, especially from the low class, do not speak English or any other language. German is one of the official languages in the country, but is spoken only by a few people.
4. The traffic. People drive with one hand on the gear and the other on the horn, bus drivers included. Pedestrians risk their lives whenever they cross the street, even with the trafic light; bicyclists should better stay at home.
5. The tap water. It is rich of limestone deposits, you need a filter even for cooking and the pipelines get easily obstructed. Obviously, bottled water in restaurants and bars is almost as expensive as beer, but tap water is not for free here (as it is in Vienna, instead).

after Wikipedia
What I like.

1. The weather. I know, most of you would hate it, but I really love the unpredictability of the local weather. You can experience 4 seasons in one day, you'll never get bored. The sky is not just gray, like in some parts of Germany, but changes every hour. Ok, you have 10 months of Autumn, 1 month of Spring and 1 month of Winter.  That's it.
2. The kindness of natives. After Vienna you learn to appreciate every Bonjour, "madame", "s'il vous plait", and smile.
3. The opening time of supermarket. I live really close to the center, nevertheless supermarkets are complete and open till 8 p.m. every day. You don't have to buy food once a week, you can buy just what you need, day by day. But there are also many street markets, not limited to the morning.
4. Wi-Fi. Internet is available almost everywhere. In bars and restaurants but also on the street. In the latter case it's not free of charge, but it may cost less than a meal in a restaurant. Actually, I don't like that you pay by volume of traffic rather than by time...
5. The beer. It is much more alcoholic than that in Austria or Germany. It is tasty, because of extra herbs. So, if you want to forget all the things you don't like here, just drink a second beer. Even if the serving is much smaller than half liter or a pint. Glasses are amazing.

Finding 5 good things was a difficult task. Limit myself to only 5 bad things was difficult as well. What I don't like in Brussels reminds me Padova, where I encountered the same distress. Other things of the everyday life here remind me the time in Padova, such as the use of my laptop instead having an office computer, sharing the office with other colleagues, the needing of public transportations to get to work, the humidity and the following feeling of cold at home, having a bathtub, playing the organ on Sunday for an Italian church, etc. It seems that I always lived here and the time in Vienna lasted just one night, as a rare, sweet dream. Let's get back to reality, it's not so bad after all. As long as the work is fine and friends are good, I can bear the life in a not-perfect place. Maybe I can even enjoy my time here!


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