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Cinnamon patrol

Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding


Brussels and beyond

I've been managing okay given my very limited language skills. It helps that most people in Brussels spoke English, although it is disheartening to ask for something in French, only to get the reply in English :-(

I did score an unexpected hit at the supermarket last night: I needed change for the U-bahn so I bought a chocolate bar. Instead of taking it from me, the check-out girl started processing the next person's order. It was then I remembered the German word "nur" meaning only. "Nur!" I said, gesticulating to my chocolate bar. "Nur das?" she asked, surprised. "Ya" I said triumphantly. It was a triumph. And this morning I met the manager of my ... hotel? hostel? boarding house? She started rattling off something in German. "Ich spreche kein Deutsch" I said. "Ich spreche kein English" she said. I wasn't listening so I repeated my sentence again, as did she - but this time the communication stuck. She asked me if I wanted breakfast (in German, and I understood!) and I politely declined (in German, and she understood!). Then she asked if I slept well and if everything was okay (I didn't understand a word she said but I picked up the context'. "Sehr gut" I said excitedly, and then "shalf shoen" while making the sleeping sign with my hands and face. Although this translates as "Very good. Sleep well!" she was very excited. Then I think she said "Schalfen sie shoen" when I'm pretty sure means "you slept well" with the polite "you".

I guess my lowest point came today when I was enjoying my puddingbretzel and coffee and in my own world. The man next to me was really thrilled with his pastry and made a comment to me to that effect, then I think he referred to something in the news. In my worst German I replied "Es tut mir laid. Ich spreche klein German [instead of ''kein Deustch"]. I corrected myself, but it was too late. He looked away and we both pretended nothing had ever happened.

Brusells is a fantastically cool place once you get over the schizoid vibe: it is officially bilingual (making street signs and map reading at least 100% more difficult) but everyone seems to prefer French to Dutch, which suits me. My backside room was right on the main sqare (Grand Place / Grootmarkt) and it's a seriously beautiful and buzzing place (for Aucklanders think Vulcan Lane x 100). I successfully filled 18 vials of blood which are been sent to 4 different labs for a myriad of tests - analysis and results pending.

Three trains, and no border control, took me to Cologne which is very good, but not amazing. The cathedral, which is the largest in Germany, is truly spectacular; more from the outside than the inside and the public transport, is, as you might expect, very good indeed.

Tomorrow I'm fast training back to Brussels, then the Eurostar to London in the evening. This will give me time to check out the Art Nouveau museum and have at least a pint of the unique and very unusual lambic beer.

Until next time, tschüs.

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Anonymous Anonymous Says:

I enjoyed your pics of Brussels. I'll be in Brussels next month,do you recommend any restaurants/cafes, we don't want anything touristy....


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