Places /blog/places.html This is my (Markus Gattol) weblog. You are currently reading the category "Places" which is one of several categories on my weblog. I will put anything somehow related to places (e.g. related to traveling, or just some places I come along during my daily routine) into this category. en-us Emacs Muse One just is not good enough for Me /blog/places.html#One%20just%20is%20not%20good%20enough%20for%20Me Most folks have a "Home, sweet Home". I do not. Do people refer to some place or is it a mixture of commodities and other people surrounding them when the say "This is my home"? You tell me!

I grew up in Austria. It is a terrific place, see for yourself. However, as I said, it does not ultimately feel like home to me. Neither does any other place I have been so far. Weird, is it not?

For me I think home is where I feel comfortable and where I get what I want for the moment... can be tranquility, can be house music in Ibiza, can be beach and sunshine in Brazil, can be rain and the noisy streets of Chongquing, heck even London Heathrow Airport has been home to me already ;-] As long as I feel it suits my current mood and desire, it is home to me, anything, anywhere, anyplace...

What I have found being a necessity in all places/cases is self-determination, liberty and autonomy. So I guess in the end, for me, it is not so much about places but about the just mentioned non-tangibles things. I am not afraid of anything but loosing them, well clowns too, they scare me like hell ;-]

Markus Gattol Wed, 12 May 2010 00:00:00 BST /blog/places.html#One%20just%20is%20not%20good%20enough%20for%20Me
Brussels /blog/places.html#Brussels I am in Brussels now, staying for three days, visiting a friend who lives in Brussels and works for the European Council.

I do not know Brussels at all but what did not take me long to figure out is that food there is delicious... really delicious. Cheap? Well, that depends. Those used to prices in Paris or London and the like will probably consider it cheap. Those however coming from cheaper places like for example Vienna might find life there quite expensive. Actually it reminds me of my time in London — sleazy apartment for a ridiculous high rent. Well, I guess I am indulged because of the excellent housing quality here in Austria which is pretty much the best I ever encountered compared to most places I have been on this planet. Germany has a high quality standard in housing too...

Anyways, after my first or so night there I figured although it is a bit expensive, it is all worth it. Good food, fairly interesting nightlife, beautiful city center, very interesting people... The only thing that totally sucks about Brussels is its weather — always foggy, light rain and cloudy... so not my thing! What I totally like about Brussels is its cultural appearance — lots of art, music, quite stunning architecture and very friendly and open-minded people. And of course, chocolate... for those of you which are into all kinds of chocolate, enter a plane to Brussels! Really, I mean it, chocolate stuff in Brussels is just one of its kind. What I find also pretty cool about Brussels is its train connections to Paris and London — less than two hours for both.

Language? To my surprise most people just speak acceptable English in Brussels. If you go to Germany or Austria for example, the English spoken there is on a far more advanced level, even in Russia they speak better English. The language spoken in Belgium/Brussels is French... a beautiful language which I am still not fluent with. I totally convinced myself that I will improve my French skills simply because I like to be able to connect with people plus most spots of cultural interests to me are those where the locals speak French.

The nightlife is heavily diverse. No matter what, there is something for anybody — theater, Irish pub, table dance, club, lounge, five star dinner with classical music... no problem, Brussels has it all. For me, well, I did what can be done in three days, started with a fancy dinner the first night, pub and some restaurants the second evening/night and a very cool lounge/club for the last night in Brussels. One thing that might be worth mentioning is that you have to tip the bouncers. Hmmm...?

I am not kidding, this is one of the things no one talks about but everyone knows and... well, accepts if he wants to visit the same club more than once. I found that very interesting especially because one might think, Europe, developed, smart, clean... Boy, not even in Africa did I have to bung the bouncers... Africa, totally another story of course; imho one of the greatest places to go.

I talked to one of the boys and found out that, yes, this is what is common practice in Belgium (the tip that is) but then the boys and girls are also very helpful and obliging and... I am not sure how else to put this so: somehow they have a great style in making a night for hundreds of people a pleasant one — no aggression, no hostility and stuff like that which for example London I think has a lot of. Generally, this just adds to my impressions of Brussels — people there are very friendly, especially when they figure you are not a local simply because your French totally sucks... try to find that in Paris; good luck!... perfect French or.... well, I am soooo ignoring you ;-]

Into that, it is quite interesting to watch how fast you are understood in Paris if you are loaded ^^ This, also, another story...

Brussels has very high human fluctuation i.e. many young people at the age between 20 and 40 that come to Brussels for a short period of time in order to either work directly with politics or do something related e.g. lobbying, which I found out many do. That said, it is no wonder there are tons of kissing couples all around... young love that is ;-]

Brussels in a Nutshell

Great food, great culture (nightlife, art, music, etc.), diverse population, friendly people, bad weather (at least while I was there), acceptable housing conditions for ordinary folk but then I figure it must be pretty expensive for a household with an cumulative income of <= 40k per annum.

Looks like a great place for the young and high-educated who strive for a career in the public sector, international law, politics and lobbying... Gosh, this place is swarming with lobbyists ;-]

Young folks (<= 30) mostly stay there for no longer than 3 years then they return home (especially those who do internships and the like at the European council etc.). So it is hard to have life-time friendships and relationships — they might start there but probably continue some other place if at all they say. Also, you really do not want to be in a relationship when you go there... there is young folks hungry for life and filled adventurousness to the rim everywhere (and also from everywhere; heck it is Brussels). That combination makes it pretty much impossible to behave faithfully they say.

Bottom Line

I would not want to live there because its size is rather pointless to me — neither is it a lovely little tranquil village nor is it some exciting big and complex thing... it is something in between so end up having neither really.

Also, it is to expensive for what it provides... London and Paris on the other hand I do not mind being expensive because what you get in return is marvelous (there is always something you can do). Also the weather, a no go for me especially during the winter — it is raining way to much and it is cloudy all the time from what the residents told me.

Would I visit Brussels again? Yes, but only when the weather is to my likings which means sunshine throughout the day. I just cannot stand the combination of all weekend fog, clouds and light rain.

Markus Gattol Sun, 16 Nov 2008 00:00:00 GMT /blog/places.html#Brussels