Monday, May 15, 2000

Greetings from Belgium

Hi from Brugge, where I'm on a coffee break between talks at the conference. Since I don't drink coffee, well, this seemed like an appopriate use of my time. (Y'know, instead of actually talking to people.)

The flight over was the smoothest transatlantic flight I can remember. These direct flights are really cool. The only new things for me were the 2-3-2 seating arrangement (yay, no center seat for me) and the video monitor on the back of the seat in front of me. I dropped my headphones pretty early into the flight, so I set the monitor to show the map/airspeed/time display the whole trip. I really love that display.

The train ride from Brussels to Brugge was also uneventful. I was suprised that I managed to make the connections without screwing things up somehow. My impressions of the entire country of Belgium based on that one little trip...It seems very generically European. I mean, if you were going to make a movie set in "Europe", I think Belgium would be a great choice. It has no national character instantly identifiable to Americans, like England, France or Germany would. But it has the old buildings, the new, ugly-looking buildings, the signs, the people...the same intangibles that I've come to associate with Europe. The fact that I heard a wide variety of languages...French, Dutch, German, English, only adds to that impression.

Incidentally, I like wandering around in a country where I don't speak the language. I have that same vague sense of not knowing what's going on that I get when I'm in any unfamiliar place. Only I have an excuse...I don't know what the heck anyone's saying. In Brugge, there's the advantage that when I need to communicate, most people actually do speak English. Whoops, time for the next talk. More later.

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