Sunday, August 3, 2008

Just a few things...

I found this blog entry as I was organizing and cleaning out some of my computer files during my train commute from England on Friday! I realized I never posted here it is!

Since I have been in Brussels for over 1 year now (can you believe it?), I thought I would fill you in on some things I have found to be quite interesting and/or amusing:

  • Never, EVER leave home without an umbrella. Even though the day looks perfect outside, it can change in an instant and leave your stranded and soaked!
  • If the sun is shining, get out in it immediately to catch up on some Vitamin D…you never know when the next time it will appear!
  • Always allow 30-45 minutes to get anywhere. Traffic can be a nightmare even on Sundays! I live 7 miles away from the office and some days I can be sitting in traffic for over an hour and have only driven about a half mile. I hate those days!
  • All stores are closed on Sundays…everything!
  • Personal space is an American thing!
  • You can only find items on sale in the months of January and July….forget about it any other time of the year.
  • Depending on where you are in Brussels depends on the language you should speak. There is French and Flemish; however, English is the neutral language…thank goodness, because that is the only one I am fluent in and sometimes I question that!
  • When all else fails, use the universal language of gesturing!
  • When you use the metro or trams, you are on the honor system! No one is there to stamp or validate your ticket! However, if caught without a ticket you can get a steep fine!
  • Deodorant is not widely used….really, it is not good!
  • Every phone call you make, you are charged. I have a home and mobile phone for which I pay a monthly fee. However, when I make a call, I am charged an additional fee and depending on who I call (land-line or mobile) the rates are different. It is more expensive to call a mobile phone than a land-line phone. Mobile to mobile calling is the most expensive.
  • Never get in a hurry at a restaurant. Once you get your food, you practically have to chase down the waiter to get your bill!
  • Summer days are so long (I love it!) and it does not get dark until 11PM! However, winter days are depressing and too short (it starts getting dark by 4PM)!
  • Driving is ridiculous. While driving down a street you have to look out for: trams, pedestrians (as they have the right away), bike riders who are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk, people entering the street from the right as they have the priority, motorcycles who seem to think they can come around you any time they feel like it, and buses, which take up the entire road since the streets are so narrow.
  • I am an expert parallel parker! Parking is a nightmare and you almost always have to park on the street in tiny little spaces! I am shocked sometimes at how small of a space I can get into now!
  • Doing laundry can take all week especially when you have 1 machine that washes and dries. My washer/dryer is so small that I have to wash one sheet at a time. It takes over an hour to wash and at least 1 ½ hours to dry! That is about 3 hours for just 1 single load.
  • Everything here is very expensive. I have stopped shopping in Brussels unless it is an emergency or I really absolutely need something. It is just too expensive not to mention the exchange rate which makes it that much more expensive.
  • I could not live without my Vonage phone. It is nice not to have to worry about international long distance charges!
  • I have learned to live without American food (I cannot believe I am saying that!).
  • Americans are so loud. I can pick out a table of American tourists in a restaurant just by the noise they are making. I have started almost whispering while dining out!
  • In many public places, including many restaurants, you have to pay at least 0.30 to use the restrooms!
  • I feel like I am in my own world when listening to the radio. It is obviously in French, so I just make up my own stories! It is quite annoying when I want to hear about the traffic and can’t understand a word…jeez, maybe I should start those French lessons again!
  • Maxie is able to go everywhere with me. Although not allowed in grocery stores, dogs are allowed in restaurants. Isn’t that interesting?!
  • Belgians put huge holes (at least 1 foot deep) in the bus lanes to keep the normal folks out. However, sometimes when it is dark and POURING down rain (not to mention freezing cold), the normal folks get turned around while making a wrong turn and end up in the bus lane without knowing it. Then they find themselves in the HUGE hole meant to kill someone. Hitting a hole which is 1 foot deep while driving about 15 mph will cause you to completely blow out a tire, ruin your rim that will definitely need to be replaced, and have you stuck until help arrives. I speak from experience!

These are just a few things that make me laugh on a daily basis! Really, all I can do is laugh, which I believe is better than the alternative!

1 comment:

  1. Keep on laughing!! And keep on posting the funny stuff you experience. Ok, so some aren't so funny when you post them, like having your car broken into, your wreck, hitting the big hole in the street, getting locked out of your apartment...(i could go on, right?!)...but what doesn't kill you, makes you laugh! Ha. Is that a new expression?!! Well, just keep living girl, b/c that is what you are doing everyday...fully, passionately and richly! Never lose track of that, while you are laughing or crying!!

    I miss you tons!