Thursday, February 28, 2008

Blogging from Brussels

Half a pig and dijonaise sauce - yummy

Spring time in the heart of Europe

I like Brussels, which is just as well as it seems to be about the only place I ever get to go on work trips. It's raining and gray, but it is still so much more "European" than Helsinki. Everywhere there is a bar or café that you want to go into, or even sit outside despite the drizzle. I'm sure the women of Brussels are disproportionately attractive as well, although maybe that's just me enjoying one aspect of the diversity of a real European - indeed global - metropolis, compared to which, Helsinki look rather provincial and boringly monocultural. The beer is much, much, much (and indeed one more-) much better as well.

I'm starting to realise there are two cities as well, Brussels and "Brussels". The first is the biggest city in Belgium, historically interesting, racially diverse reflecting Belgium's imperial past, and in places a little bit shabby. It is a normal, large western European city with all the advantages and problems that this implies. And then there is "Brussels", which is where the EU lives. It predominantly exists in the minds of the people of Europe who collectively tend to think of it as a large trough in which their elected and unelected leaders go to try and get their snouts into. For national politicians around Europe it is the place to blame or hide behind dependent on what is politically expedient at that moment. But "Brussels" is a real place as well - a few blocks around the Schuman metro stop in particular. In fact, maybe it isn't real, it might actually be hyperreal. It is populated by "Europeans" who tend to be amongst the best and the brightest (and most ambitious) that their home countries produce. I'm sure these people are genetically slightly different - a little bit taller on average, a little bit better looking. Most certainly better dressed - they are the type of people who you see in the adverts in in-flight magazines. This is perhaps because they are the type of people who buy their clothes in the airport boutiques?

Anyway - I like both Brussels and "Brussels". Except for the rain.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Probably also a little (well actually a lot) bit more venal. Ambition isn't everything and doesn't necessarily indicate best and brightest. If you're bright, but not ambitious then maybe its the place to avoid like the plague.