Thursday, 26 April 2012

WEBMU 2012, Berlin bound

The votes have been tallied, and the host city for WEBMU 2012 is....BERLIN!!. The Berlin delegation jumps for joy and roar with excitement, throwing their hats in the air and giving each other high fives and hugs. 

Well almost...The host city for WEBMU 2012 has been announced. Now it is time to vote for a time to hold it. There are plenty of considerations. Should it be held at the same time as another cultural event? What will the weather be? Where will be the TQEQE be going this year? So many questions.

If you have some of the answers, why not get over to the WEBMU discussion forum and put your two EURO cents in. You have to be blogger and an expat living in Germany.

Talk soon...

Brussel's street art.

One of the surprising thing about our recent trip to Brussels is the amount of street art in the city. Every corner of the city appears to have a small (and sometimes big) art display of some sort. So here is a quick collection of some of the artwork that we came across.

It is hardly surprising to see so much art around Brussels as it is an important hub for comics. Tin Tin was created here, and it is certainly the highest profile among the many others, Asterisk and Obelisk is also one of my childhood favourite.

I didn't make it to the Belgische Comic-Zentrum this time, but it is definitely on my list for the next visit.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Brussels over Easter.

This Easter saw us kept to a newly developed tradition of not spending it at home. Last year, we ventured to the south of Germany for a trip down the Romantic Road. The year before, we visited the Black Forest, also down south.

This year, we ventured out of the country and visited Brussels in Belgium. 

Before embarking on our trip, I am not really sure what to expect from this visit. I always had this impression that Brussels as a very clean, very international city and highly politicized city. I mean, it has many offices that deals with European financial and European Union items. For the touristy stuff, most people would head towards Brugges or Genk.

My wife was quite excited as she has visited Brussels before, but was before a family was attached to her. She told me she remembered the chocolate, waffles and the beers. I think that was quite a trip, back then.

We traveled to Brussels on the Thalys train. The train was actually on route to Paris, and Brussels was just a stop for it. The trip was about 1hr 45mins. That was just long enough for the kids, as they were getting restless. We went with Comfort-1 Class, this translates to first class. It promised free Wifi connection, and free meal. The Wifi were pretty slow, it was good for checking email, and browsing the Facebook but streaming youtube is out of the question. The free meal was just some cut sandwiches and a drink. On the up side, the seats were like our arm chairs at home, super comfortable and spacious!

While in Brussels, we were caught up in the public transport strike. At first, we were quite annoyed and were cursing at the transport workers for disrupting our holiday. As it was Easter, we thought that the strike was part of their cunning plan to get more pay from the government. I really felt like an ass when I read the news later that day. The strike was triggered when one of their colleagues were killed on the job. He died as a result of an road rage incident. Check out this news item from the BBC.

The strike did allows to visit some of the sites that we were not even considering. As we were walking back to the city centre, we walk across the Belgium Military Museum. We had a look, and surprise to find its entry fee is zero! We entered to see a huge display of military equipment, plenty of airplanes and tanks. The kids had a great time exploring the planes and the tanks.

The most striking place out of our visit to Brussels are the residential areas. I was quite amaze to see the residents living in such poor quarters. Living in Germany where the social system is pretty good, it is difficult for me to comprehend how a neighbouring country like Belgium have such a large population that seems to be living poorly.

For the touristy attractions, the Grote Markt is quite impressive for its size and stature. To think that the square was over 500 years old is quite astounding. The biggest disappointment is the Maneken Pis. Not much to say about it.

The waffles were great! We really enjoyed it, certainly more than the chocolates.