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Luxembourg impressed

Posted 29 January 2009 - The Hague (NL):

My trip to Luxembourg has been worthwile. My demo book for the exhibition `Crossroad Europe` received a warm welcome.

Steps ahead: 1) Present the same bid book in The Hague (Thursday), 2) Multiply this book by 50 and send it out to the 27 national representations of the European Commission, 3) Figure out about the `delivery method`: material to be used, logistic procedures.. Short: putting everything in practice. I will write more on Thursday.

Below photo: getting to Luxembourg.

(© Ciney - BE, January 2009 )
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European week nr. 2

Posted 27 January 2009 - Brussels (BE):

Hello from Brussels, where I have had the opportunity to meet lots of fellow Europeans from all of the 27 EU member states.

All of them, inclucing myself, have been invited to participate in the Think About It blogging competition. This competition aims to arise the awareness of people about the upcoming European Parliament elections. The initiative looks interesting: not so much for the political side but for the way it encourages people to meet each other and learn about each other`s different backgrounds. Which is the very same objective I set for the photo exhibition: allowing people to learn about one another.

My mission of this week, apart from being present at this event, is to help EU officials decide to adopt the exhibition `Crossroad Europe` and to facilitate its journey along, preferrably, all of the EU capitals. My stopover for today will be in Luxembourg. Exciting times... Stay tuned for updatums.

(© Brussels - BE, January 2009 )
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European week ahead

Posted 26 January 2009 - Brussels (BE):

The real crisis has started to arrive in The Netherlands, with 16 500 lay-offs announced by Dutch companies just today.

As this could have been expected, I won`t expand on what I wrote on Monday of last week. As usual, I just be talking about me-myself- and-I.

I arrived in Brussels last night to attend a conference that unites blog authors interested in European affairs. It`s nice to, once again, meet so many people from different countries and have something in common with all of them. Even though I still have no clue of what I am going to blog about for these people, as I am not very interested in politics.

Anyway, highlights of the week will be Tuesday and Thursday, when I will present my plans for the photo exhibition `Crossroad Europe` to relevant authorities. I now also reserved a web domain ( and, which as yet does not contain any information, hence the absence of hyperlinks. Coming soon.

(© Brussels - BE, December 2008)
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Exhibitions and more

Posted 23 December 2008 - Rotterdam (NL):

News from Brussels (photo): Eurocommissioner Margot Wallström allowed me some space on her blog after I spoke to her last November in Paris.

Things are moving in the right direction for the Us Europeans photo exhibition, and this guest entry is another push in the right direction. I am a bit disappointed in the reactions so far. If these people only knew how much effort it took to plan and execute this project - and how much I relied on many, many people to host me, talk to me, encourage me to keep going. I obviously created myself a luxurious position just being able to spend one year without earning ANY money throughout one entire year.

Less cynic people might think of it as courageous instead pampered. But anyway, who am I to tell them. I did what I thought was the right thing to do, and I still see it that way. Here`s the post to Ms Wallström`s blog:

Change of subject: this morning, I went to see the exhibition of a publicist I recently met. Mr Will Tinnemans, together with photographer Jan Banning, compiled the series Bureaucratics, which shows portraits of civil servants from different countries, all photographed in their offices. I found it very interesting to `read` all those intercultural differences from the photograph, to have a quick impression of their professional habitat. The exhibition Bureaucratics runs until 11 January and is well worth seeing.

Last topic: My pack of New Year`s photo cards will arrive today and I can`t wait to send them all out :) If you-reader suspect that you are not on my list and would still like to receive one, please let me know your address by submitting a comment to this post.

(© Brussels - BE, December 2008)
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Europe stuff

Posted 16 December 2008 - Utrecht (NL):

The Hague Brussels Utrecht The Hague..

I was on a quick return trip to Brussels today quickly saying hello to Peter from JEF Europe then attending a meeting organised by European news website Euractiv. Back in 2007, they started a blogger platform and as such, they have been syndicating Us Europeans posts throughout most of my project. It was very funny to meet so many people whom I had never met, yet all knew me because of the project. We shared lunch, exchanged some ideas, I told them about the exhibition planned for May 2009 and then left for Utrecht for the evening schedule.

This is the train that took me back to The Netherlands.

(© Mechelen - BE, December 2008)
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Heading home

Posted 20 December 2007 - Ghent (BE):

Ghent Railway Station this morning. Sorry for having been slow again. It`s very cold which makes my hands freeze and my camera`s batteries die. Moreover, my computer`s hard disk only has 2 Gb of free space left (= only 50 photos!). Time to get some new reserves!

(© Ghent - BE, December 2007)
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Arrived in Brussels

Posted 17 December 2007 - Leuven (BE):

I have been navigating along and over the language frontier over the last few days. It has been quite cold on either side, and Brussels is not much better.

Still, getting to Brussels is a good thing because it means I should be able to find `professional people` interested in my project. I have at least three meetings over the next three days: three opportunities to put my projects in the spotlights to those who really work with and for Europe. I will certainly keep you updatumd about the progress during the coming days! In the meanwhile, here`s another crossroad photo, with houses covered with red bricks again (that`s for pretty much the first time since I left home).

(© Leuven - BE, December 2007)
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L`Union fait la force

Posted 16 December 2007 - Leuven (BE):

I tried to postpone it for a while but – internationally speaking – there is obviously one subject about Belgian that supersedes all other developments in the country: the language struggle. You can now access part one of the coverage about that subject on Us Europeans.

(© Louvain-la-Neuve - BE, December 2007)
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Louvain & Leuven

Posted 15 December 2007 - Louvain-la-Neuve (BE)

Last city in Wallony on my list is Louvain-la-Neuve, a city constructed from scratch in the 1970s after the Flemish university of Leuven decided to ban the French language from their institutions. Both cities are on equal distance from the language frontier that splits Dutch-speaking Flanders from French-speaking Wallony. Guess what tomorrow`s subject on Us Europeans will be, given the fact that my next Aufenthalt will be Leuven.

(© Louvain-la-Neuve - BE, December 2007)
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Unity gives strength

Posted 14 December 2007 - Liège (BE):

Belgium is suffering from a severe identity crisis, with some politicians claiming that the northern part of the country (Flanders) should become independent. Most of the population does not agree. Especially the people in the South (Wallony) are having a hard time. If Belgium splits up, they will be worst off economically. The situation is fairly complicated and I will certainly dedicate an Us Europeans article to the subject.

Below flags show the determination of the people in Wallony to keep Belgium a single country. They look a bit sad, as if Belgium lost the final of the World Cup football 2006 and as if people forgot to take their flags away since.

(© Liège - BE, December 2007)
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Closer to home

Posted 13 December 2007 - Liège (BE):

Arriving in Liège means being closer to Holland then ever. Hence the photo of this traffic sign pointing the way to Maastricht. Only little over a week and I`ll be home for three weeks. How exciting!

By the way, delays were caused by some technical inconvenience: server was full. I relocated some files and can now keep uploading new images for a while again.

(© Liège - BE, December 2007)
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Stage 11: Terra Belgica

Posted 21 July 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Next on the list are Luxemburg and Belgium. Both I most often use as transit countries to get somewhere to France. Belgium is known in Holland for being a bit disorganised. Houses standing in a row are almost imperatively all different from one another. Borders of property are not as clearly marked as in Holland and there's more waste in the streets.

About half the population of Belgium speaks an accent of Dutch called Flemish. There are some vocabulary differences, and these serve as a very useful conversation topic for Dutch and Belgian people. The other half of the population speaks an accent of French (Wallon) which, like Flemish, is very recognisably Belgian and not proper French. The language is maybe the reason for both Dutch and French to use Belgians as 'Direct Object' when telling jokes.

One thing Belgian is for sure better at than Holland: cooking and appreciating what they eat. Unlike France, nice restaurants are not necessarily very expensive. And so there's always a reason for a stopover in Belgium on the way to France..

(© Antwerp - BE, February 2007)
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Unintentionally photographed II

Posted 6 February 2007 - The Hague (NL):

I was actually planning to write something about smoking and post a photo of an ugly old lady holding a cigarette - but forgot to upload it so will now just post another photo that I had prepared for the posting of 4 Feb: somebody walking into the photo without warning. Again, from the righthand side.. I'll save the smoking lady for tomorrow..

(© Ghent - BE, January 2007)
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Belgian Motorway Collection

Posted 31 January 2007 - The Hague (NL):

A few days ago, I promised I would write more about my visit to FOAM, the Amsterdam Photo Museum (will do the same for Huis Marseille later this week). The exhibitions were not very exciting, pretty random and somehow distant images from people of the 20th centuries and women peeing in a forest, all blurry and vague. In fact, the only thing I did like about the photo museum were the books on display at the entrance.. One book that caught my particular attention was about Belgium as a transit country and I will quote the official description of the book:

Graphic designer Rob van Hoesel (1974, NL) photographed all 35 Belgian motorways from the passenger seat of his old Opel Corsa. The Netherlands' neighbour to the south has always been seen by Van Hoesel as one big crossroad: the first 'abroad' on the way to France, Belgium, Italy, Spain or other holiday destinations (compare my posting of 12 January). In order to compile this book, Van Hoesel selected 920 images from a total of 3000 photos taken during his trips. They are organised by individual road number and there's additional information about each and every one of them.

And here's the site of Mr Van Hoesel, please be sure to click on "Transitoland" for a quick preview of the book.

(© Belgium E19 - BE, October 2004)
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Waiting for the train

Posted 25 January 2007 - Paris (FR):

Picture of last morning in Ghent, people waiting for the same train as me: the IC to Lille Flandres.

Quant à moi, I'm still in Paris, heading out for Interlaken, Switzerland by tonight. I should be back home again tomorrow night, if the train from Basel to Brussels is not running late (which it probably will....)

(© Ghent - BE, 24 January 2007)
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Parking manager 2nd degree

Posted 24 January 2007 - Paris (FR):

I safely arrived in Paris and had a good time in Ghent. I got up really early to take a quick portrait photo of Frederik at work, then quickly caught the train to Lille -> Amiens > Paris.

(© Ghent - BE, 24 January 2007)
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Gent / Gand / Ghent

Posted 23 January 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Another Belgian train :) This time to tell you that I will be in the city of Ghent most of today to visit Frederik, a fellow volunteer at Brzeg's Childrens Home back in 2002.

(© Ghent - BE, June 2001)
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Travelling around Europe

Posted 22 January 2007 - The Hague (NL):

It's great to live in Europe and to have so many different countries, languages, landscapes, food at arm's length.

It may be difficult to find your way around if you look for specific websites in each country so here's some hints of where to go:

By plane:
* Be sure to fly straight to and from budget airlines' hubs, this is lots cheaper than between most other airports.
(Ryanair: London Stansted, Brussels South, Easyjet: London Stansted/Luton, Transavia: Amsterdam, Air Berlin: Berlin, Aer Lingus: Dublin, Sky Europe: Prague/Vienna);
* Be sure to fly on weekdays: a long weekend is often a better option than an entire week;
* Book well in advance;
* Don't be too picky on time/datum/destination.

By train:
* Don't use website by the national railways. Especially the Dutch one is pretty much useless. Instead use the one offered by Deutsche Bahn is excellent (Deutsche Gründlichkeit!) for any European countr, right until the smallest railway station;
* For Northern and Western European long distance travel, use a travel card like Interrail/Eurorail etc. For Central and Eastern European countries, it's lots cheaper to buy tickets locally. Be as precise as possible when ordering your ticket (include datum, time, departure city, arrival city and train number.

(© Kijkuit - BE, February 2006)
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B&W Rules

Posted 23 October 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Am very annoyed today finding out that there are hardly any photo labs left that print normal black and white photos from film.

(© Antwerp - BE, July 2003)
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Posted 2 June 2006 - The Hague (NL):

In the UK, the English joke about the Irish, the Irish joke about the Welsh, the Welsh joke about the Scots, and vice versa. In the US, the Italians joke about the Poles, the Poles joke about the Germans. Germans don't make any jokes at all, and anybody jokes about Belgians. Nothing new so far. The latest Belgian's joke comes from the Belgians themselves.

In a vote for or against splitting up the country in two parts (Flanders where people speak Dutch and Wallony where people speak French) ALL Dutch-speaking MPs were in favour of the proposition, while ALL French-speaking MPs voted against. Did anybody say national identity crisis?

(© Brussels - BE, December 2003)
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Posted 26 April 2006 - The Hague (NL):

A Belgian guy got killed last week by two youngsters who were after his MP3-player. According to the first news releases, the suspects were of North-African origin. As it turns out, they now seem to be Polish. Eye witness reports are known to be a very doubtful evidence in criminal trials. Preception error is likely to take place because of traumatic stress and personal biases.

Apperently, this even applies to video recordings - proving once again that personal perception and facts are two completely different things.

(© Brussels - BE, July 2005)
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Posted 7 April 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Playboy today introduced its magazine in Indonesian, but in a somewhat downgraded version without any nudity. So far, nobody seems to be satisfied: potential buyers think it's too boring to be true, while religious groups are threatening to violently keep shop-owners from selling the magazine.

(© Antwerp - BE, July 2003)
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Posted 1 April 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Last week, a Ryanair plane accidentally landed on the wrong airport after the pilot mistook local mililary airport Ballykelly for Londonderry on visual approach. The story itself may be funny, as long as you don't realise that over 50% of plane crashes are due to pilot error..

(© Charleroi - BE, October 2005)
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Posted 24 February 2006:

Analog photography rules! It's more intense, it's a much more relaxing and more natural. It keeps you focused on what needs to be done. A little less practical yes, and sometimes it takes two weeks before you see the results. The photo below datums back from two weeks ago: the roll-the-dice trip which lead us to Cappelle aan den IJssel and then onwards to Belgium! This photo was taken in Kijkuit (English: Watch Out) at the local railway station.

(© Kijkuit - BE, February 2006)
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Posted 22 February 2006:

Friend and former housemate Jean is working on some new exciting and refreshing ideas for his Snowcover/Snowcat project, with also a newly designed website. Have a look!

(© Mechelen - BE, February 2006)
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Posted 12 February 2006 - The Hague (NL):

Walk into a pub in Belgium (in Bonheiden in this case) and ask whether you can watch the Winter Olympics on TV. You'll be laughed at, just like Jean and I were yesterday..

(© Bonheiden - BE, 11 February 2006)
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Posted 3 February 2006 - The Hague (NL):

As a former train spotter, I feel obliged to post stuff about railways every now and then. Railways are like religion: you have to believe to make it work. Public transportation is booming in Belgium, and slowly dying in The Netherlands. Belgium is investing in infrastructure and comes up with innovative ideas to make the services affordable and fun.

Dutch Railways (NS) make few investments, offers poor service at high prices. Train travelers jump into their cars, NS decreases capacity and prices go up. Talking about vicious circles and self-fulfilling prophecy.

We Dutch like to joke at Belgians for their not-so-smartness, but at least they get where they want in time and at a reasonable price.

(© Brussels South Station - BE, May 1998)
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