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Brussels is Officially Bilingual

Brussels is a little bit of everything, an agglomeration of 19 communes forming one of the three Regions of the federal Belgian state. The capital of the Kingdom of Belgium, the headquarters of the French and Flemish Communities. Brussels is also the home of the European Commission and the Council of the European Union.

Since 1 January 2002 the EURO is the official currency of Belgium, together with 10 other European countries. Around the main town square there are a lot of money exchange booths, banks and automatic money machines. Most shops, restaurants and hotels accept all major Credit Cards.

In recent decades, the arrival of European officials as well as of immigrants and refugees from all over the world have made it a bustling town with a very colourful, varied population, but also one with increasing traffic and parking problems. But fortunately, there are spaces and parks where one can find some quiet and rest away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The world famous peeing boy can be seen every day and night at the corner of Eikstraat Stoofstraat near the Grand Place. Between April and September the town square and its buildings are illuminated at night to the rhythm of classical music.

Created in 1958 as part of the World Fair, the Atomium is one of Brussels most recognisable sights, and at 102 metres tall it affords a wonderful view to those who reach the top. Mini Europe is also worth a visit, with its small scale representations of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and more. Representing Belgian irreverence, Mannekin Pis, the world famous statue, can be found at the corner of Eikstraat Stoofstraat, near the Grand Place.

The country objectively has the best beer in the world. Therefore, your stay in Brussels cannot be complete without a visit to one of the many typical and beautiful cafes and pubs that you will find here. Try the local beers of Brussels Gueuze or fruit beer, cherry beer, raspberry beer, peach beer or a wonderful Trappist beer, made in one of the Abbeys of Belgium. Be Careful when drinking a Trappist beer. These beers tend to be very strong.

Everywhere in the city you will find chocolate shops.

Brussels is officially bilingual, French and Dutch, although French, mother tongue of the majority of the population, is the lingua franca and the most widely used language in Brussels.

Why Does Time Go Faster as We Get Older?


by Philip Yaffe

It is a widely accepted adage that, “The older you get, the faster time seems to go.” But why should aging have this effect? After all, there is the parallel adage that, “Time flies when you are having fun.” But as we age, time flies whether we are having fun or not.

So what’s going on?

I have recently been trying to understand the phenomenon, because for the past several years many of my days have been extremely long, yet the years still seem to be accelerating.

To tackle the problem, I did an Internet search to see what others were saying on the subject. Nearly all the returns had to do with parenting. “Oh, they grow up so fast. The days are long, but the years are short.” This is perhaps a partial explanation; however, since the phenomenon occurs just as well to people who have no children, it cannot be the whole answer.

Some other comments had to do with getting religion. “I found God at the age of 30 and every day since I have been waiting to go to His kingdom. I am now in my 80s. Oh, the days have been so long, but the years have been so short.” Again perhaps a partial explanation; however, since the phenomenon occurs just as well to non-believers as believers, it cannot be the whole answer either.

Many comments were philosophical. They said simply to accept the phenomenon and live each day to the full. Good advice, but again no advance in understanding.

I then turned to science. I typed in the search words “psychology of time”. This turned up hundreds of articles, most of which were very technical, dealing with brain structure and functions, neurotransmitters and the like. To narrow the search, I typed in both “psychology of time” and “days are long”. And got nothing at all!

Finally, I decided to sit quietly and ponder the matter myself. This turned about to be a wise decision, because I think I found the solution. It’s really quite simple. It all has to do with “anticipation” and “retrospection”.

Whatever the nature of our individual lives, we all anticipate things important to us. Then after they happen, we look back at them. For example, most school children look forward to the long summer vacation, which always seems to be an eternity away. Finally, it arrives. Then, almost before they blink an eye, it’s over and they are back in school again.

Progressing from primary school to secondary school is another excruciating anticipation for a youngster, especially if the move is perceived as being an important step away from childhood into adulthood.

And so it goes. When anticipated, each new significant event seems to be excruciatingly far away. However, after the event, we regularly look back and exclaim. “Did it really happen that long ago?”

Our first love, our first heartbreak, driving a car, landing a job, marriage, etc. When we look forward, all these milestones seem impossibly far in the future. However once achieved, how quickly they recede into the past.

The older we get, the more milestones we have to look back on. So the farther and faster they appear to recede. So if sometimes the clock may seem to have stopped, the calendar always continues racing ahead.

For me, the high point of my life was joining the Peace Corps and serving as a volunteer teacher of math, physics, and journalism in Tanzania. I applied for a Peace Corps posting early in my senior year at UCLA. Processing the application took only about three months — perhaps the longest three months of my life. It seemed more like three years. I was accepted and sent abroad for two years – the shortest two years of my life, because I was having so much fun.

When I returned to Los Angeles, I could hardly believe the adventure was already over. The first week back seemed extremely long, because my heart was still beating 10,000 miles away. However, the weeks rapidly became shorter and shorter, then the first year, then the second year, and so on. I couldn’t believe it when the first decade had passed, then the second, and so on.

I went to Africa with the Peace Corps in 1965 and returned in 1967. More than 40 years ago!

I of course have had many other milestones in my life, which are all rapidly hurtling away from me. Even the most recent ones already seem to be covered in dust. I am now 65. I don’t feel old, but somehow I just can’t get my mind around the fact that many of these things already look like ancient history.

If accumulating milestones is truly the secret of the accelerating years, what do we do about it? Basically nothing; we just have to accept it. However, this is not necessarily a negative. True, the good things are coursing away faster and faster into the past. But so are the not-so-good things.

The story is told of the biblical King Solomon. He once called his wise men together and presented them with a challenge. “Find me a cure for depression.” They meditated for a long time, then gave him the following advice. “Your Majesty, make yourself a ring and have engraved thereon the words: This too shall pass.” He had the ring made and wore it constantly. Every time he felt sad or depressed, he looked at the inscription, which tended to lift his spirits.

“This too shall pass.” Indeed, it shall. Whether positive or negative, nothing in life lasts forever, even if it sometimes feels as if it will. We are certain of this because we know even life itself doesn’t last forever.

We are all born to die. What happens after that is the subject of considerable controversy. But whatever it is, we are certain it is going to happen, and that it will almost certainly be different from whatever we know today.

Since I am now in my seventh decade (I am 65), for me this inevitability will probably occur sometime within the next 20-30 years, and almost certainly within the next 40 years. This seems like a very long time. However, the years are accelerating, so when it does occur my most probably reaction will be: “What! Already!”

Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and a marketing communication consultant. He currently teaches a course in good writing and good speaking in Brussels, Belgium. His recently published book In the “I” of the Storm: the Simple Secrets of Writing & Speaking (Almost) like a Professional is available from Story Publishers in Ghent, Belgium (storypublishers.be) and Amazon (amazon.com).

For further information, contact:

Philip Yaffe

Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32 (0)2 660 0405

Email: phil.yaffe@yahoo.com,phil.yaffe@gmail.com

Rising to the Linguistic Challenge



by Philip Yaffe



This is a story about a young man growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s. He was a bit strange for a Californian of that epoch. He of course loved surfing, but he loved mathematics and physics even more. His dream from a very young age was to go to university and get a science degree. And that’s what he did.



In 1960 he enrolled at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). At that time (I imagine it is still the case), in addition to their choosing a major, university students were required to take so-called “cross curriculum” classes in other disciplines. In particular, at UCLA everyone was required to study a language.



This young man chose German because it was a language of science. This was a mistake. Not only is German a very difficult language compared to English, it is almost impossible to learn any language if you are exposed to it only in the classroom. This of course is the case in the United States, and in particular at that time English was so dominate that outside the classroom you would never hear German, or virtually any other language. Spanish in California was of course an exception; however, in the 1960s it was no where near as important as it is today.



Although the professor insisted that “Sie werden Deutsch lernen!” (You will learn German), our young man was not so certain. “Particle physics and differential topology are not easy subjects, but German is impossible. I spend more time and effort on this class and get less out of it than any other class I have.”



The professor of course was wrong. The young man didn’t learn German, and probably neither did anyone else. All he knew was that he was extremely relieved when the course was finished.



When he graduated, the young man joined the Peace Corps, the U.S. government organization established by President Kennedy to send volunteers to Third World countries to help them with their nation building. The young man was assigned to Tanzania in East Africa. As part of their preparation, all volunteers heading to Tanzania were required to study Swahili, the national language, three hours a day, six days a week for nine weeks.



“At last a language I will actually be able to use!” the young man exulted. So he really threw himself into it. He intensely studied every aspect of Swahili, grammar, vocabulary, syntax, diction, idiomatic expressions, etc. He was unquestionably the best student in the class.



When the volunteers got to Dar es Salaam, then the Tanzanian capital, four of them were put on a train and sent to posts in the middle of the country. At each stop, vendors swarmed around the train to sell bananas, tangerines, oranges and other local produce. With some difficulty, the young man was able to speak to the vendors, but he couldn’t understand their replies.



One of the other members of the group had unquestionably been the poorest Swahili student. At the end of the nine weeks, she could barely say “hujambo” (hello), yet somehow she understood what the vendors were saying. So the young man would speak, the vendors would reply, she would translate, and he would speak again.



“But this makes no sense. How can you understand them when I can’t?” he asked. “I don’t know,” she replied. “I guess I just listen to what they are saying.” Suddenly, he realized that his approach to languages had been academic, not practical. He was listening for conjugations, singulars and plurals, inverted verbs and other grammatical constructs, but not to what people were actually saying.



Once he recognized this, his progress was blindingly rapid. Within a very few weeks, he found that he was no longer translating through English. He was actually thinking and speaking directly in Swahili.



“It was like being released from prison. I saw my cell door swinging open and my mind being set free to fly out. I could literally feel my brain expanding!” the young man explains.



He now lives in Belgium and has gone on to master French, has a working knowledge of Dutch and German, and is currently turning his attention to Spanish.



“You know,” he says, “I used to be jealous of people who learned other languages as a child, not as an adult. But now I’m not so certain. I was 24 before I learned a second language. It wasn’t easy; in fact it was excruciatingly difficult. However, I had an experience that people who grow up speaking other languages cannot even begin to imagine. Looking back on it, I don’t think I would really want to change that.”



I was that young man. I am no longer so young; all of this happened more than 40 years ago. Having had four decades to reflect on it, I am now convinced that this life-altering experience firmly demonstrated two things.



First, under the proper circumstances, anyone can learn to speak other languages. Having grown up in a country as big as a continent with a single dominant language, I had fallen victim to the idea that learning other languages required high intelligence and/or special gifts. I am extremely happy to have discovered otherwise.



Secondly, I believe that the way languages are taught in the U.S. is all wrong. The objective of teaching students to speak the language is manifestly false. They won’t, because in most cases opportunities to use the language are lacking. Pursuing this objective therefore only demoralizes students and turns them against language learning per se.



American educators need to recognize that the best they can do is to acquaint students with a language and lay a foundation for them to rapidly start speaking it if they ever find themselves in a place where the language is actually spoken.



Language courses should teach basic grammar passively, i.e. so that students can easily recognize verb conjugations, singulars and plurals, formal and familiar pronouns, etc., then concentrate on helping students to comfortably read in the language, e.g. newspapers, magazines, novels, etc. If students know how to read a language, once they finish the course they might continue reading it, thus keeping their knowledge grammar and vocabulary fresh and ready to use should the opportunity ever arise.



Under current conditions, the moment they leave compulsory language courses, most students immediately forget whatever it is they might have learned, so everything is lost.



My own experience demonstrates the value of this approach. When I had mastered Swahili — and realized that I could master any other language I wanted to — I decided to try my hand at French. With some effort, I taught myself to read French while still living in Tanzania. When I returned to Los Angeles, I continued reading newspapers, magazines, and novels in French, so five years later when I moved to Belgium, I began speaking it almost immediately.



I am currently doing the same thing with Spanish. I have essentially no opportunity to speak Spanish in Belgium, but I now read it almost fluently. I occasionally spend a week on vacation to Spain. Each time I do, it takes only one or two days for my mind to switch to Spanish mode, so that I can begin speaking. Not fluently, but enough to get around. I am certain that if I were to spend a month or so in Spain, I would rapidly approach fluency.



Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and a marketing communication consultant. He currently teaches a course in good writing and good speaking in Brussels, Belgium. His recently published book In the “I” of the Storm: the Simple Secrets of Writing & Speaking (Almost) like a Professional is available from Story Publishers in Ghent, Belgium (storypublishers.be) and Amazon (amazon.com).

For further information, contact:

Philip Yaffe
Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)2 660 0405
phil.yaffe@yahoo.com, phil.yaffe@gmail.com



How to Anticipate the Unexpected


by Philip Yaffe

According to the adage, “Travel is broadening”. In other words, when you leave your home and go somewhere else, your mind will expand because of the differences you will see. For me, the most valuable, mind-expanding differences are not the big ones that you might be prepared for by reading and education. They the little things that you would never even consider, so that they take you completely by surprise.

When I was growing up in Los Angeles, I never traveled because my parents were small business owners and had no time to go away for vacation. I was in fact 16 years old the first time I set foot outside of Southern California. After 10 years of planning and disappointments, we finally drove across the country to visit relatives who lived in a small town in Maine.

A few days before our departure, I came down with a severe case of mononucleosis. This illness makes you incredibly weak and constantly tired, so all you want to do is sleep. We just about decided not to go, but since it was a trip we had been planning for decade, we decided to give it a try.

After three days on the road (I had spent most of the time sleeping on the back seat), we arrived in St. Louis, where we also had relatives. St. Louis is on the Mississippi River and this was early July. If you know anything about St. Louis, you know it is an excellent place not to be in summer. It was extremely hot and extremely humid. However, since this was the first time — and probably the last time — I would ever see these relatives, I spent the next four days touring the city, picnicking, swimming, playing tennis, and engaging in a host of other strenuous activities.

Within a half-hour after leaving St. Louis, I completely collapsed and slept almost constantly the next two days before arriving in New York. The four days in St. Louis were a revelation. Before arriving, I could hardly move; after leaving I could hardly move. But while there, I was active beyond all expectations. I simply had never imagined just how much a person can actually achieve through sheer desire and will power.

A couple of weeks later, we were visiting with my Aunt and Uncle in Maine. One day my brother and I were walking around the town just to see what it looked like. We went into a local supermarket. Our attention was drawn to a big display of watermelons. Two things struck us. First, they didn’t look like the watermelons we had in California. Instead of being big and oval, they were long and sausage-like. But the real shocker was the price. You will have to adjust the figures; after all, this was a half-century ago (1958). The sign said 10 cent a pound. My brother let out a cry of dismay. “Ten cents a pound! That’s robbery!”

A man who was standing a short distance away came over and asked him, “Tell me son, where are you from?” “California.” “And what do you pay for watermelons this time of year?” “Oh, about 2 cents a pound, sometimes 1 cent a pound.”

The man looked my brother straight in the eyes and said, “Little boy, you’re lying to me. You’re lying. You’re lying”. It was a case of total incomprehension. The man simply couldn’t believe how cheap watermelons were in California. And we simply couldn’t believe how expensive they were in Maine.

However, the pièce de résistance of my revelations happened a few days later. We were on a lake, swimming, boating and barbequing when a thunder storm broke. Everyone ran into the house to get out of the rain. Everyone but me. I was transfixed, literally rooted to the spot. I stood there with the rain pouring down on me for what seemed like several minutes before I too finally ran into the house.

Why this strange reaction?

You need to understand that in Los Angeles, it is normal that not a single drop of rain falls in the city from about the first of May until the end of September. Because it was the only thing I had ever experienced, I grew up believing the word “summer” literally meant “hot and dry”. It was August, and it was raining! To me, this was against nature. It was like the sun one day suddenly rising in the west and setting in the east, rather than rising in the east and setting in the west as it had always done.

When I got back to Los Angeles, I was a changed person. Being a scientist by nature — I loved mathematics and physics — I was naturally skeptical about things. But I had not fully realized just how much there was to be skeptical about. Having experienced somewhere else, I better understood that things that seem normal and natural in one environment can be bizarre and unnatural in another.

This revelation has served me well ever since. It certainly helped me a few years later when I spent two-and-a-half years in Tanzania, in the East African bush. This was an environment not only different from Los Angeles, but different almost beyond imagination. I virtually lived in a mud hut, suffered through a drought, saw leprosy, and contracted both malaria and dysentery.

But the most surprising thing was, Tanzania had a one-party socialist government. Being a devout believer in multi-party, free enterprise democracy, this was an anathema to me. However once on site, I discovered that Tanzania’s one-party, socialist state not only worked, but for this poor developing country, this “bizarre” form of government was absolutely necessary.

The world is full of unexpected things. The best way to deal with them is to “anticipate the unexpected”. In others words, we must always be prepared to examine something that surprises us before criticizing or rejecting it. Otherwise, we are likely to make some serious mistakes of judgment.

I think the importance of this lesson was best summed up by a country preacher in the American Deep South. In his distinctive southern drawl, he once told his congregation: “It ain’t what you don’t know that causes problems. It’s what you do know that just ain’t so.” Amen.

Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and a marketing communication consultant. He currently teaches a course in good writing and good speaking in Brussels, Belgium. His recently published book In the “I” of the Storm: the Simple Secrets of Writing & Speaking (Almost) like a Professional is available from Story Publishers in Ghent, Belgium (storypublishers.be) and Amazon (amazon.com).

For further information, contact:

Philip Yaffe
Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)2 660 0405
phil.yaffe@yahoo.com, phil.yaffe@gmail.com

To Brussels

Small Belgium is an embodiment of the Old Europe with its cozy cities, small houses and quite life rhythm. It’s a country with great cultural heritage, architectural monuments, and delicious national cuisine.
Brussels is a capital of Belgium and with its population of about 1 million is a relatively big city. It’s a cultural and political center of the country. Brussels is called “main gates” to the country. Here cross all the main routs inside the country and abroad.
The name of Brussels means “marsh city”. The first settlement was founded here in VI century on the way between Cologne and Bruges. During Hasburg rule it was the capital of the Spanish Holland. In XIX it became the capital of the independent Belgium.
Nowadays Brussels is mainly a city of businessmen and diplomats, a headquarter of European Union and NATO, it an interesting place for tourists too. It’s luxurious, cozy and historical city. The center of the city can be divided into two parts – Upper and Down. Upper town is full of broad boulevards and magnificent buildings. In contrary, downtown presents a labyrinth of narrow medieval streets around one of the most beautiful squares in Europe – Grand Place.
Almost all the attractions are situated within four blocks. Here you can see one of the most unusual and discussed fountains of the world – “Peeping boy”, visit numerous museums devoted to the history, art or something else. Various shops offer the most traditional Belgian souvenirs – chocolate and lace.
Brussels is a bilingual city – both French and Flemish are in use. In fact the French is used mush wider, but nevertheless all road signs and signboards should be duplicated.
On the outskirts of the city raises Atomium – a sophisticated structure covered with the aluminium panels. From its top on approximately 100-meters height opens an unforgettable panorama of Brussels and its suburbs. This building was established for the international fair of 1958 and symbolizes the structure of atom.
City hall building appeared in XV century – it took almost 50 years. A century later Royal palace was created. Now it houses municipal museum. Saint Michael is considered to be a saint patron of Brussels – its statue crown the spire on city hall roof and the most respected temples in Belgian capital is Saint Michael’s Cathedral.

Joue De Vie – A Castle In The Loire Valley In France

Certainly the main attractions of the Loire are romance, history and architecture. The renaissance chateaux built by Charles VIII, Francois I, Catherine de Medici and other royals during the hundred years that the French court relocated to the Loire Valley from Paris it a distinctive storybook charm.

Like the river Loire, this vast region runs through the heart of French life. The lush Loire valley is supremely regal. Its sophisticated cities, luxuriant landscape and magnificent wine and food and wine add up to a bourgeois paradise. It is now classed as part of the world heritage of mankind by Unesco (from Chalonnes-sur-Loire to Sully-sur-Loire).

Overindulgence is no sin in this rich region.

Surly queens, foppish kings, evil princesses and scheming mistresses and aristocrats sculpted a flat riverbed valley into an enchanting fairytale landscape like no other place in Europe or the world, for that matter.

Unlike the chateaux of the Loire Valley, the Loire Valley wines are a perennial secret. Some of France’s best winemaking occurs here although few Americans are aware of it. Even many French are unaware of some of the wonders now being produced in the Loire Valley. But wine-shop and wine bar and sommeliers, and all the wine press from Paris, London Brussels and Tokyo in the know spend their vacations visiting the Val de Loire.

The Loire Valley is the location of Sir Mick Jagger’s favourite second residence a 16th century chateau called La Fourchette near Amboise. In London he may be affectionately known as the lead singer of Strolling Bones but in France is known as Mick de Fourchette, le pape du rock, le pere Mick, Le Seigneur de Fourchette, Dr. Jagger, sexy papy British and Mister Mick.

He comes here every summer. In under 70 minutes he is whisked from London in a chartered three-person taxi-plane. Here in this quiet backwater of the Loire Valley in Touraine with its caves, woods and vineyards, he can relax with family and friends. He is often seen at the village fete or playing with one of his grandchildren in a local cafe. He drives around in his Opel station wagon or little Nisan micra. He returns year after year for the quality, ambiance, and the unusual. He even plays cricket for Saumur when he is in Touraine.

Todays the vacation industry offers a great number of proposals on luxury vacations, such as romantic luxury villas, luxury home vacations, luxury villa vacations, the world cruise vacations, golfing villa vacation and fairytale chateaux vacation rentals.

The most popular luxury vacations are when you exclusively rent your own castle or villa and you stay there completely alone or with your partner or with extended family and friends all waited upon by staff who make you feel like royalty. Your vacation can be fully catered with delicious gourmet cuisine being served up for every meal.

An exclusive castle rentals can include staff if you require (the number varying depending on the size of castle). Luxury chateaux are fully equipped with all the conveniences of home. Additional amenities such as extensive DVD libraries and CDs with flat-screen televisions, cable television, DVD players if not standard can be requested. Baby equipment and babysitting can usually be provided. These items may also be hired provided advance notice is given.

Limousine transfers to and from airports can be arranged. The chateau can be stocked with any wines, groceries, or special dietary requirements or wine that you require. Hire cars can be delivered to the airport or the chateau.

Many of the visitors are repeat clients. The aim of renting a luxury castle exclusively is to make a holiday as stress-free and relaxing as possible. Luxury castle rentals are known around the world by discriminating traveller’s for custom designed vacations of extra-ordinary value and extraordinary value, and for personalized, dedicated service.

The Grand Haven Musical Fountain and the Jeanneke Pis

Music in Motion : Grand Haven Musical Fountain

The Grand Haven Musical Fountain is located in Grand Haven, Michigan. The fountain displays a gorgeous fusion of water, music, and lights that come together in a fantastic sight. It is in between Dewey Hill and the north coastline of Grand River where Lake Michigan enters the Grand Haven State Park. When it was constructed in the 1960s, the fountain was the earth’s biggest “musical” fountain and is still to this day one of the largest musical and light fountains in the world. The Grand Haven Musical Fountain is approximately 250 feet in length and more then 100 feet wide. Its rectangular basin carries 40,000 gallons of water and has a depth of 12 inches. The large fountain has 1,300 jets in a variety of diameters which spout water in vibrant, moving patterns.

The Grand Haven Musical Fountain was made in 1962 by volunteers who felt that the wonderful city of Grand Haven was lacking a focal point and needed a city monument. The point of construction was to invigorate the Grand Haven downtown area as well as its waterfront. The price was just under a quarter of a million dollars.

Through the various summer months, the fountain shows have varying themes and styles that constantly excite and inspire the crowd. The music ranges from classical jazz to rock and roll bringing in a unique mixture of guests. The Grant Haven Musical Fountain also has a special Fourth of July show that is joined by fireworks. This show has always proven to be a crowd favorite.

The Grand Haven Musical Fountain is only active in the summertime. It is not open during the colder months because of frigid temperatures. During the months in between May and September, there are fountain shows every weeknight and weekend. The show typically starts around sunset and lasts for 20 minutes. Although the fountain shows are only 20 to 25 minutes in duration, there are over 3,000 changes in water motion and light. The operation of the fountain is exclusively operated by computer software which takes an hour of programming time for each minute of the show.

Touring Michigan in the summer months offers a wide variety of activities for families, couples, and solo individuals not limited to the unforgettable sights, sounds, and lights of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain.

The Jeanneke Pis : Modern Art in Brussels

The Jeanneke Pis Fountain is situated in Brussels, Belgium. The fountain portrays a female child wearing pigtails, squatting while humorously relieving herself. She is leaning back on her feet and looks to be quite taken with the moment. The Jeanneke Pis Fountain, like Manneken Pis, appropriately exhibits a universal human experience, one that never fails to entertain and humor its visitors. It was created in 1985 by Denis Adrien Debouvire and is far more contemporary than her brother fountain, Manneken Pis. Jeanneke is an accompanying garden statue to the Manneken Pis Fountain, which is the national landmark of Belgium. The primary Manneken Pis Fountain was constructed in 1142, but there have been several adaptations since.

The Jeanneke Pis Fountain is very small; it stands just over a meter and a half tall and is situated at the back of a dead end road in the Rue des Bouchers district of Brussels. Butcher’s street, or de Bouchers, is famous for the wide variety of European beers and wines available that can be tasted. In total, there are approximately 2,000 different varieties of beer, wine, and vintage alcohols served in the areas nearby the fountain.

It is not known why Debouvire built the Jeanneke Pis Fountain. When he was questioned, he only replied: “out of loyalty,” and refused to comment further. Debouvire’s refusal to elaborate created an immediate legend out of the Jeanneke Pis and became a must see for locals and tourists alike. Many hypothesize that the Jeanneke Pis Fountain was fashioned to lure more sightseers to the Butcher Street vicinity, which it certainly did. Still others claim, with a smile, that Jeanneke is a result of and pays homage to the female liberation movement. Currently, Butcher Street and the Jeanneke Pis Fountain are two of Brussel’s most commonly visited locales, second only to the Manneken Pis.

Even after two decades however, the Jeanneke Pis Fountain has not been accepted by the city of Brussels. The Belgium government deliberately leaves it out of the official tour guide. Despite what motivated the design of Jeanneke, the outdoor fountain is definitely unique and has yet to be replicated elsewhere in the world. One can however, find her image on postcards and assorted keepsake items sold all through the city. The Jeanneke Pis Fountain is a demonstration to Brussels’ relaxed European attitude—one of which greets guests from all over the planet with open arms and a gracious smile.

A visitors guide to Brussels, Belgium


Of course you know what to do, and sometimes you do it. But when you don’t that’s when it counts.

The scene: La Grande Place in Brussels after a little rain a magic of shining cobbles and floodlit 17th century golden guild houses. The scene is quite enough to set you back four hundred years to when Steen was painting his canvases and this land was still part of the Low Countries, the Netherlands. These were times before credit cards, driving licenses, medical insurance cards, and ATMs.

The time: The twenty-first century when four friends were sealing a wonderful day with just another glass of wine on a terrace at 1:00 am.

We are the last on the terrace and the lone waiter is beginning to pile up the chairs and loop security chains through each pile. I suppose he wouldn’t mind if we left.

It will be another long day of touring tomorrow so a few hours in bed would not come amiss. I settle the bill with a credit card, thrust my wallet in my hip pocket and we get up and left.

There were very few people on the streets as we wander back through twisty medieval streets to our hotel. One has to be careful on the slick cobbles, one could easily fall, I think. Then, out of habit I pat my hip pocket and the wallet is gone.

We are back at the terrace in less than ten minutes but after speaking to the waiter and to the owner in the caf, there is no sign of the wallet or its contents. They are both very sorry but they suggest that perhaps we should go to the police.

The first order of business is to cancel credit and ATM cards. Fortunately, my wife has a credit card from the same bank so we have one 800 number and this one worked. Unfortunately, most US 800 numbers do not work in Europe. I am able to speak to a real voice bank clerk in her late afternoon, Mountain-Standard time. She is also able to connect me to other bank numbers and within 30 minutes the cards are all canceled. Phew! Being night in Belgium there is not much chance of them being used unless the thief has an Internet connection.

Then I have to reconstruct what my black-leather wallet had contained: about $330 and a few euros in cash, three credit cards and an ATM card, my driving license, my wife’s photograph, three medical and dental insurance cards, United Airlines mileage and lounge cards, membership cards for an Art museum and the National Parks, two spare checks, a spare car key and some scribbled notes. Did I really manage to cram all that in a small wallet?

Visiting Brussels – Special Events To Look Out For During The Year

One of the best times to visit Brussels is during September when the number of tourists drops dramatically when compared to the peak summer months, but when the weather is still warm and pleasant.

However, if the special events below interest you, you may wish to co-incide your visit accordingly.

Summertime Events

May sees the Brussels Jazz Convention which is performed at various destinations throughout the city. You can also catch the Queen Elisabeth Competition and the Kunsten Festival des Arts which is a mix of opera, theatre and dance (in Flemish and Wallonian). Lovers of sport may be interested in the Brussels Half Marathon when thousands of runners swarm through the streets of Brussels.

June entertains the City of Brussels Summer Festival where a wide range of classical musicians gather to perform in some of the cities most extravagant locations. Another opportunity to catch a music festival is provided in the last week of june when the Fete de la Musique comes to town.

July offers a wide variety of events, kicking off with the opening of the Palais Royal, when the Royal residency is opened up to visitors for a couple of weeks. There are also an entertaining mix of cultural musical events including Festival de Midis Minimes and Coleur Café Festival. Carnival lovers will want to check out Foire de Midi which offers funfair type rides. The colourful Ommegang can be found in the Grand Place where countless people take on the role of clowns, jesters, soldiers and such. This is quite a sight and approximately 2,000 people are thought to participate every July. On the 21st is Belgian National Day – celebrated by a lavish fireworks display.

August sees the Tapis des Fleurs (a colourful flower exhibition) and the Plantation du Meiboom (a giant free for all puppet show) come to town.

Autumn, Winter, Spring…

September & October affords you the opportunity to check out the Lucky Town Festival & Les Nuits Botaniques (musical concerts) as well as the Audi Jazz Festival.

December is characterised by Marche de Noel. In this Christmas fair you’ll find various festive stalls.

January & February are renowned for the Fete des Rois and Brussels Film festival. Towards the end is the highly popular International Comic Strip And Cartoon Festival (you may remember the most famous Belgian comic strip hero – Tintin and his white dog snowy who went about solving various mysteries).

March/April – The Ars Musica festival is a celebration of contemporary music (March) while the Serres Royales is an elaborate and attractive flower show. You can also take in the International Fantasy Film Festival & Eurantica which is a grand antiques fair (typically towards the end of March).

April entertains the Sablon Baroque Spring where 17th century music is performed by some of the country’s finest young musicians. Keeping to the tune, Flanders Festival is an international music festival that specialises in classical music.

Brussels is a splendid city with some marvelous attractions and special events. Whenever you decide to go, there will be something to see and do to interest even the most sophisticated traveller.

Holiday Destinations by Time Zone

This is an invaluable list of holiday destinations by time zone for those of you who like holidays minus the jet lag. It’s also a great point of reference piece.

+0 hour

 Canary Islands

Ghana (Accra)

Iceland (Reykjavik)

Ireland (Dublin)

Liberia (Monrovia)

Mali (Bamako)

Morocco (Rabat, Casablanca)

Portugal (Lisbon)

St Helena (Jamestown)

Senegal (Dakar)

Sierra Leone (Freetown)

The Gambia (Banjul)

Togo (Lome)

Western Sahar, Laayoune (El Aaiun)


+1 hour


Albania (Tirana)

Algeria (Algiers)

Andorra (Andorra la Vella)

Angola (Luanda)

Austria (Vienna)

Belgium (Brussels)

Bosnia-Herzegovnia (Sarajevo)

Cameroon (Yaounde)

Croatia (Zagreb)

Czech Republic (Prague)

Denmark (Copenhagen)

France (Paris)

Germany (Berlin)

Gibraltar (Gibraltar)

Hungary (Budapest)

Italy (Rome)

Macedonia (Skopje)

Malta (Valletta)

Monaco (Monaco)

Namibia (Windhoek)

Netherlands, The (Amsterdam)

Nigeria (Abuja, Lagos)

Norway (Oslo)

Poland (Warsaw)

Serbia and Montenegro (Belgrade)

Slovakia (Bratislava)

Slovenia (Ljubljana)

Spain (Madrid)

Sweden (Stockholm)

Switzerland (Bern, Zurich)

Tunisia (Tunis)

Vatican (Vatican City)


+2 hours


Belarus (Minsk)

Botswana (Gaborone)

Bulgaria (Sofia)

Cyprus (Nicosia, Kyrenia)

Egypt (Cairo)

Estonia (Tallinn)

Finland (Helsinki)

Greece (Athens)

Israel (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv)

Jordan (Amman)

Latvia (Riga)

Lebanon (Beirut)

Libya (Tripoli)

Lithuania (Vilnius)

Malawi (Lilongwe)

Romania (Bucharest)

Rwanda (Kigali)

South Africa (South Africa / Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town)

Swaziland (Mbabane)

Syria (Damascus)

Turkey (Ankara, Istanbul)

Ukraine (Kiev)

West Bank (Bethlehem)

Zambia (Lusaka)

Zimbabwe (Harare)


+3 hours


Bahrain (Al Manamah)

Kenya (Nairobi)

Madagascar (Antananarivo)

Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg)

Saudi Arabia (Riyadh)

Tanzania (Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar)

Uganda (Kampala)

Yemen (Sanaa, Aden)


+4 hours


Mauritius (Port Louis)

Oman (Muscat)

Seychelles (Mahe – Victoria)

United Arab Emirate (Abu Dhabi, Dubai)


+5 hours


Kazakhstan (Western – Aqtau)

Maldives (Male)

Pakistan (Islamabad, Karachi)


+6 hours


Bangladesh (Dacca)


+7 hours


Christmas Island, Australia (The Settlement)

Indonesia (Western Indonesia/Java, Sumatra – Jakarta)

Thailand (Bangkok, Phuket)

Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Hanoi)


+8 hours


Australia (Western Australia – Perth)

China (Beijing, Shanghai)

Hong Kong (China)

Indonesia (Central- Bali, Borneo, Celebes/Ujung Pandang)

Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)

Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar)

Philippines (Manila)

Singapore (Singapore)

Taiwan (Taipei)


+9 hours


Indonesia (Eastern – Irian Jaya and the Moluccas / Jayapura)

Japan (Tokyo)

Korea, North (Pyongyang)

Korea, Republic of (Seoul)


+10 hours


Australia (Capital Territory – Canberra, New South Wales- Sydney, Victoria- Melbourne)

Australia (Tasmania – Hobart)

Australia (Queensland – Brisbane)

Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby)


+11 hours


New Caledonia (Noumea)

Solomon Islands (Honiara, Guadalcanal)


+12 hours


Fiji (Suva)

New Zealand (Wellington)

Antarctica (South Pole)




-1 hours


Cape Verde (Praia)

The Azores Islands


-2 hours


Brazil (Fernando de Noronha)

South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (Grytviken)


-3 hours


Argentina (Buenos Aires)

Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brasilia)

Brazil (Recife, Maceio, Salvador, Fortaleza)

French Guiana (Cayenne)

Uruguay (Montevideo)


-4 hours


Antigua and Barbuda (Saint John’s)

Aruba (Oranjestad)

Barbados (Bridgetown)

Bermuda (Hamilton)

Bolivia (La Paz)

Brazil (Manaus)

Canada (New Brunswick – Saint John, Nova Scotia- Halifax, Prince Edward Island – Charlottetown)

Chile (Santiago)

Dominica (Roseau)

Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo)

Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas- Stanley)

Greenland (Thule, Qaanaaq)

Grenada (Saint George’s)

Guadeloupe (Basse-Terre)

Guyana (Georgetown)

Martinique (Fort-de-France)

Montserrat (Brades Estate, Plymouth)

Netherlands Antiles (Curacao- Willemstad)

Paraguay (Asuncion)

Puerto Rico (San Juan)

St Kitts and Nevis (Basseterre)

St Lucia (Castries)

St Vincent and the Grenadines (Kingstown)

Trinidad and Tobago (Port of Spain)

Venezuela (Caracas)

Virgin Islands (U.S.- Charlotte Amalie)

British Virgin Islands (Road Town)


-5 hours


Bahamas (Nassau)

Brazil (Acre-Rio Branco)

Canada (Quebec- Montreal, Quebec, Ontario- Ottawa, Toronto, Nunavut- Iqaluit)

Cayman Islands (Georgetown)

Colombia (Bogota)

Cuba (Havana)

Ecuador (Quito, Guayaquil)

Haiti (Port-au-Prince)

Jamaica (Kingston)

Panama (Panama, Colon)

Peru (Lima)

USA (Northern and Eastern states)


-6 hours


Belize (Belmopan)

Easter Island, Chile (Rapa Nui- Hanga Roa)

Costa Rica (San Jose)

Galapagos Islands

Guatemala (Guatemala)

Mexico (Mexico City, Acapulco, Monterrey, Veracruz, Guadalajara, Cancun)

USA (Central – Southern states)


-7 hours


Canada (Alberta)

Mexico (Baja California Sur- La Paz , Chihuahua- Ciudad Juarez, Nayarit- Tepic, Sinaloa- Mazatlan)

USA (South Western states)


-8 hours


Canada (British Columbia- Vancouver, Yukon- Whitehorse)

Mexico (Baja California Norte- Tijuana, Ensenada, Mexicali)

USA (Western states)


-9 hours


French Polynesia (Gambier Islands)

USA (Alaska- Anchorage, Fairbanks, Nome)


 -10 hours


Cook Islands (Rarotonga- Avarua)

French Polynesia (Tahiti Papeete)  

USA (Hawaii-Honolulu)

USA (Aleutian Islands of Alaska – Adak)


-11 hours


American Samoa (Pago Pago)

Samoa (Apia)



All time zones are based on GMT+0 (London, UK time)