Every year in this nice city a log of geeks come from all over the world to attend FOSDEM. This year I also joined it. Brussels (the city name translates as "city on the bog") is not really big. I had a feeling that it looks much more beautiful in summer.
The city centre is small and miniature. It really is close to the Netherlands architecture style. Dutch is even one of the three official languages in Belgium (just like French and German). Though around airport area most people are speaking Dutch, and in the city it's already French. And for German I almost didn't hear it at all. However Dutch is quite close to German. There is even a joke in Germany, that if deadly drunk German starts to speak English, that would be Dutch (:
There are a lot of beggars in the city. Some of them going a tricky way. They give you to sign a paper to support some community of blind/deaf/or whatever people and they do not tell you about the money. So you put your name there, put a sign and then there is a cell where you should specify amount of donation. Normally people do not see it before starting to sign and they feel uncomfortable to reject it. Therefore they give the money. You can see two guys on the photo with the paper. This is the process of taking money from people in more or less honest way. I’ve seen similar stuff in Germany a while ago.
If you go a bit away from a city centre, the first thing you will mention is that the streets are really dirty. It looks like people here don't know how to clean it. There are so many cleaners who look like heavy working, but it's still too dirty. From the other side it was warm. +8 degrees. After Moscow -20 it was really cool. There were even blooming flowers. Though it's a usual weather here for that time. Average temperature in February is about +4. Though the local minimum is -21. Not this year, but just a couple of times through all the history of weather records.
There are not really a lot of tourists sights in the city: central square Grand Place. All buildings on it were owned by guilds of Brussels, and nowadays all except one are rented by shops and cafes. Then a couple of churches and Atomium. In the mid 60s when EU government started to move to Brussels a lot of old buildings was demolished and a brand new skyscrapers were put instead. Well, it’s not like American skyscrapers, but still very unlikely for Europe.
And of course the famous Manneken Pis. It was a bit tricky to find it. The signs with directions are everywhere, though only direction is specified. You have no idea how long you should go there. Some signs are missed or hidden really well. Everything is prepared for tourists (:
In 1987 they also put a girl nearby. In 1999 the dog. So we should expect the cat soon. Though it’s also not that easy to find them.
I found nothing special in metro here. The interval between trains a bit bigger than in Moscow. Probably there is no need to run trains more often. So they put the boards with indicators, where the trains are and how soon will arrive one. We waited for train about 5-10 minutes normally.
Though the post is not just about the city. I also would like to write a couple of words about FOSDEM. I will skip all the technical details and will not tell about the content. Just a couple of words about the even. Conference was held in l’Université libre de Bruxelles. I got there by bus. It was funny to watch Brussels citizens at Saturday morning in a bus full of bearded men who can’t speak French. I had to skip two buses and only then I finally managed to get inside. It was quite similar to the feeling in Moscow metro during rush hour (:
There were a lot of people. Sometimes too much and sometimes there was not enough space in a room to host all the people who wanted to listen ("sometimes" because there were different topics in different rooms in parallel). Beside lectures, one could also just to talk to someone. Some huge companies were presented there and it was possible to talk to its employees, know some insights :)