Monthly Archives: September 2010


When I arrived in Belgium, I constantly compared it to France – social security, health, education systems, etc. Only that Wallonia isn’t France even if the language is the same.

Recently, a friend kept on complaining how things were different in the Netherlands; that this wasn’t the same; and that this was better done and anyway, in the Netherlands….  till I said that “Belgium is not the Netherlands”. Or France or Germany for that matter.

Just because people speak your langue doesn’t mean that things are the same as in the country you come from. Ask the Austrians about Germany if you don’t see what I mean. Faut faire à Rome etc.


Basel seems to be a nice city; as much as I can judge with the little of time and  creepy weather I had. Anyway. One day and the usual approach to sightseeing – walk into the tourist office and ask what they would advise to do – still got me

  • a nice walk around the city center,
  • a free guided tour in the Münster,
  • entirely wet,
  • a new umbrella,
  • to see the Tinguely museum,
  • to almost break my camera,
  • a free jazz concert including a glass of white wine,
  • really tired by the end of day.

The pictures above ones are from the Tinguely Museum website; the ones below are mine.

I have to come back and see more of the city and its museums and try more of that food.

Jetlag for beginners

There are only 2 hours of time difference between Brussels and St. Petersburg. Still, it was enough for me to need 2 days of proper adaption. Arriving in St. Petersburg, midnight was too early to go to bed. Logically, as it was only 10 pm back where I came from. Getting up at 5:30 am though felt like a pain; no matter the time zone. Making it throughout the day even more.

On the way back, 10 pm – bed time – only to wake up at 7 while I would have loved to sleep much, much longer. I’m definitely not prepared for real jetlag…

A few more thoughts on Russia

Actually, St. Petersburg as it didn’t get further than this. After the visit in June, I had half a day this time. Having heard about the boat tour, I googled a bit and found in the end one English speaking tour. Perfect for the time left and the cold but sunny morning. Definitely a thing to do.

Besides this, 3 more things:

  • Do not leave the city without taking the metro. Though not if you have vertigo; the metro is incredibly deep done. My estimate was like a 50-70 meters. Turns out that this was rather a careful one.
  • I swear to drink tea only next time I’m back. The coffee – no matter if in the hotel or a café, prepared by an Italian machine or a Soviet time looking truc – is truely disgusting.
  • The time the waiters take to clean up a table is inversely proportional to the times the food takes to arrive. Read: if you are a slow eater, don’t put your fork down or your plate with whatever is left on it will be gone in no time.

Intercultural dialogue

Russian original: Дайте мне подумать об этом.

English translation: Let me think about it.

My understanding: I’m not sure. Let me see and come back to you.

True meaning: Won’t happen.

Quand même

Bruxelles n’a pas besoin de palmiers, ni de ciel bleu: les nuances d’or et de gris, les reflets d’enseignes sur les pavés mouillés et les trams grinçant dans les virages lui vont trop bien.

André Vrydagh

Vuelta en clase

Si, si, si. It’s this eternal fight between not being overly motivated of spending one evening per week in class and this objective to learn a new language till I can speak it. Or in the case of Spanish understand those &*à(&çè Spaniards.

But as motivation doesn’t show up for the rendez-vous, I go with the second best option: forcing myself. Less fun but more effective. The teacher seems reasonably nice – not as great as Ana-Maria last year but that really couldn’t be expected – and the fellow students who I hope will drop out soon too.

Besides, I keep on discovering free learning material online like the very useful and extremely well done Veinte Mundos. It’s a monthly journal for English, French or German speakers who learn Spanish. All articles can be listened too and cover various aspects of hispanic – South American as well as Spanish – culture. Una alegria!