I’ve been feeling like I’m tyring to juggle too many balls recently. Between a full-time traineeship, actively working on give or take three volunteer projects, having to arrange a quick, administration-related trip to Vienna, applying for jobs, trying to improve my French and desperately pretending to have a normal social life, there’s not much time to just do nothing. And if you know me you’ll know how much I enjoy being idle.
On top of that I’ve been feeling rather unhappy with my living situation. I don’t feel home when I come home. Also, I can’t really say no, so my landlord keeps asking me favours that sometimes take up entire days. In fact, I was so frustrated that I re-read large passages of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. The laid-back “Don’t Panic” attitude of this book helped me make two decisions: re-start blogging and start looking for a new place to live. I am so clogged up with goings-on that two more won’t really make a difference. Plus sharing my frustrations with the internet usually relaxes me. In fact it seems easier than talking to people. I know that is seriously messed up, but I really don’t have time to deal with my psychological shortcomings now (and my rather impressionist use of commas). Besides, this has always been meant to be more of a diary than a blog, so I guess that’s fine
Cheers and I’ll be back soon!
Architecturally Brussels is somewhere between shocking, disappointing and “But, why?”. It looks like at some point in history – and by history I mean everything since WWII – they decided that baroque is boring and art nouveau is perhaps too artsy. So they started tearing old buildings down and building new stuff. Problem is the newer constructions probably already looked demodé hours after their unveiling.
The cityscape invites you to marvel at a communist concrete cube next to some centuries old gem. Or at a fin de siècle masterpiece next to some made-out-of-glass-and-metal… something.
Once you swallow your initial feelings of awe and terror and generously teach your eye to overlook the many, many architectural faux pas you will be rewarded with a laid-back beauty that has nothing to do with the polished, posh European capitals of comparable size.
Brussels is like the pretty girl, who just doesn’t care enough to get dressed, put on make-up and walk around in high heels. Instead she continues to wear baggy jeans and skater shoes and occasionally skips a shower. If you like her you won’t care at first and if you really like her, then after a while that’s going to be her most attractive quality.
It’s been more than a month since I moved to Brussels and last posted something here. I keep feeling like I have plenty to say yet don’t know what to write about. A bit like my whole life right now. So, while looking for a defining theme (in blog and life alike), I’ve decided to share a few impressions en passant.
Brussels itself is absurd, but the good kind. Lying on the frontier between the Germanic and Latin domains it has acquired German charms and French cleanliness. People are légers yet extremely uptight about certain issues, mainly regarding language use, politics and language use, bureaucracy and language use and public transport and language use.
I have no explanation why I enjoy myself as much as I do, but I feel like I’m on my way to being really happy. Examples are hard to give, but there’s one thing I immediately fell in love with when coming here: music in the metro stations. All day long the public transport company plays music over the loudspeakers. In the morning you’ll hear a cozy Paradise by Coldplay, when you’re tired after work they’ll keep you going with something jazzy by Rhianna and late at night when people are excited (and drunk) they will be calmed by the soothing tones of some symphonie classique.
Of course the company really pays attention to avoid playing anything with French or Dutch lyrics, since that would just rekindle discussions about… language use.
The time has come for me to break off my tents and set up camp elsewhere. This has also been the reason why this blog has been rather nothing-doing recently. It turned out that the process of turning Dimi from Vienna-based into Brussels-based is way more stressful than expected. Anyway, three cartons and one mighty piece of luggage later I couldn’t be happier to turn the page. Yes, I know that I’ll have to come back and fill in some blanks, but for now I really need a clean, white sheet of paper to start scribbling on.
I am however not fleeing from this city or leaving with bad aftertaste. After somewhat less than a decade I have to admit that I have oftentimes been harsh in my judgement towards it. It is also high time to admit that I quite frankly love Vienna. It has welcomed me to be part of it and I in turn started feeling it as part of myself.
Here’s some cool things that I (some hinted on Quora) love about the city:
- It feels like the capital of Eastern Europe. It is German enough so you can live your life peacefully but Slavonic enough so it’s not too boring. The best of two worlds if you will.
- Size matters! Vienna is big enough so you can do anything you want but small enough so you can get pretty much everywhere in 30 minutes.
- Without even having asked for it the municipality sent me letters inviting me to participate in local politics and elections in my own language (Bulgarian).
- It is the only city in the world that during the economic crisis of the recent years actually lowered the prices for the public transportation’s yearly tickets.
- While there are right-wing extremist parties and election billboards in Vienna, the graffiti on the streets are exclusively left-wing and against Nazism/homophobia/sexism/xenophobia/antisemitism etc.. In the rest of the world it’s the other way round.
- Vienna is simultaneously very hip and very dusty. The Viennese hipsteria can easily put Williamsburg
to shame, yet some places look and behave like they’re taken out of provincial North Korea.
The only thing I have always uninterruptedly missed here is the comparatively small number of tree-lined streets. Let’s see how Brussels does on that account. See you there!
One of the really fun things about city life in the past few years is that public sharing and reuse initiatives are becoming more and more common. There are book exchanges and “olde stuff” boxes all over town. It looks though as if we have advanced to a new level. Something like public sharing 2.o.The privately organised public share corner in my neighbourhood now offers (1) the obligatory book exchange, (2) a take-an-Euro-leave-an-Euro penny bank, (3) a recycled/crafted ashtray and (4) red shoes, I guess in case you need to go over the rainbow.
Have nothing else to say. Here’s a photo résumé. Commented.
New York City
Okay, I am home. The series will continue with at least a fifth episode where I get to share the few photos and enriched by sarcastic comments.
Above is a picture of my screen in the airplane showing the airplane I am taking a photo in from outside. Very meta.
Since it has become popular to end events by quoting some statistics about them here’s one: 4 boarding passes and not once was the correct gate printed on any of them. Two didn’t even have gates printed, one was corrected at the check-in counter by professional staff using a blue BIC pen and one was outright wrong. Why do they even bother?