Tag Archives: Brussels

Epic Journey 1, or Flights, Ferries, and Buses through Europe and Africa

I don’t know if I can get into details right now, but I did an epic journey last year that I didn’t quite write about.

Croatia

Croatian coast on the bus ride from Split to Dubrovnik

The basics are as follows:

Flew into Brussels via Copenhagen. TGV train from Brussels to Marseille. This is a beautiful ride but the speed obscured the experience a bit. I’m also used to the US’s very slow and inefficient trains however. Flight from Marseille to Zadar. Bus to Split. Bus to Dubrovnik. Carpool to Kotor to Tivat. 3 days on a yacht (of special note). Carpool to Tirana where the pollution gave me a throat ache. Bus to Athens: huge mistake! Crowded. Only non-local. Only person of color. All of this, luckily, made me a friend or two but mostly made for a wildly uncomfortable 14 hour ordeal. Never again.

Flight to Cairo which was the first time my ears got plugged on a plane since I was of single numeric age. Bus to Luxor: another mistake! Long! Not scenic! Train to Aswan. Train back to Cairo. Flight to Istanbul where it was superrr cold and the food was shockingly unimpressive. Flight to Madrid. Overnight train to Lisbon. Train to Porto, home of port (nuff said). Flight to Barcelona (god bless Ryanair). Overnight train on Spain’s TRENHOTEL to Granada. Train to Algeciras. Ferry to Tangier: fun! Worth it! Highly recommend! Train to Fez. 1 night in mold-infested room. 2 nights in luxuriously-priced riad with accordingly comfy bed and la-di-da manager. Flight to Marseille. Train to Brussels. Depart for the good ol’ US of A, with a layover in CPH.

I will say more, I’m just not sure when. In the meantime, if you, dear readers, are interested in anything in particular, give me a shout.

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Pis in Brussels: A Photo Essay

“Brussels is a city that doesn’t take itself too seriously.” – a French expat in Brussels

Before I went to Brussels, I, for some reason, expected it to be something like Vienna: tall, clean and Art-y, very possibly boring and a little pretentious. But instead, it felt more akin to Berlin: village-like, quirky and slightly confusing. Refreshingly, Brussels is largely a non-grid city, with meandering streets that swoop and roll from one focal point to the next. There is abundant greenery with a forest just at the edge of the city, as well as a (seemingly) competent public transit system that includes metro, tram, and rail. There is also more than enough cheap beer to go around, ancient and modern buildings literally plastered together, and a captivating history of the clashes and compromises between the Dutch and French-speaking populations. As an English speaker whose French is practically non-existent, it was somewhat helpful that the common language was English. I got by fine though I have, in large part, a magnificent host to thank for that. I should also mention that the fashion in Brussels is among my favorites in Europe — everything appears exquisitely tailored with plenty of cleverly monochromatic shade combinations.

The topic of this “photo essay,” anyway, is pissing. And I think it summarizes the playfulness of Brussels quite well.

Manneken Pis (1618), one of Brussels’ prime tourist attractions. Translates from the Brussels dialect Marols into English as Little Man Pee.

Jeanneke Pis (1987). Translates into Little Joan Pee. Jeanneke is behind iron bars, apparently, to protect her from vandalism. (See cage-free photos here.) Jeanneke is Manneken’s little sister, I guess. Gender equality, right?

Zinneke Pis (1998). Roughly translates into Little Mutt (i.e., of uncertain or mixed origin) Pee.

And so on.