Leaving, arriving

Leaving for Belgium has to happen with the power of alcohol, was Otto’s opinion. And thusly it went.

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I never felt better, as can be inferred from the picture below. Lucky there’s Internets even at the airport.

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A last picture of Finnish ground.

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Just what I was thinking:

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Thankfully the plane was quite empty, so the nice people at Finnair didn’t pester me for my overweight luggage. Most of the other passengers were stocky business people with a heady side interest in trotting horses, something that I inferred from the discussion they were having in the bus to the plane.

For some reason sleeping didn’t work out, so I whittled away the time by reading an, unsurprisingly, completely uncritical article on Tyler Brûlé and Monocle in Blue Wings (Finnair’s inflight). He gets a substantial Finland bonus as a confessed fan of Artek and Helsinki. A man who sits on airplanes for 250 days of the year – I’m almoust bound to believe he is a made-up character, some post-ironic epitome of a jet-setting yuppie.

There is something profoundly idiotic about Monocle magazines’s promoting of general interest in world affairs, and it’s complete disregard of the long-term impossibility of the lifestyle it describes. A combination of a design magazine and an affairs magazine, indeed. Brûlé is really going out of his way to eat the cake and keep it with Monocle –  promoting health and sustainability lifestyles, near-produce quality consumption etc. – and continuous transcontinental flights in an endless but civilized orgy of Batemanian yuppieness where you can earnestly complain that Berlin doesn’t have bookshops that are open 24/7 for getting your issue of the Economist when you arrive from Seoul in four in the morning. Of course, the readership Monocle targets will be financially able to fly, no matter what. As long as the global market is chugging away, at least. Which isn’t a given, not now, and definetly not in the long term. Rick Poynor nailed it in his critique of the “bookazine”.

Well, that’s for rants. A short and uneventful flight (save for some surprisingly closely passed vapour trails of other planes) brought me to Brussels airport. It continues to surprise me how lightly the modern airliners land, compared to the older DC10s that were my first experiences of flying.

Brussels airport was yet again strangely humid, dampening all noises and empty as an architect rendering. Apparently saturday morning is a good time for travelling through there.

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On the plane, I practiced using rendering software myself:

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From Antwerp a bus provided speedy and uncrowded transport through surprisingly green Dutch landscapes with some memorable landmarks.

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Some Isotype-inspired graphics adorn what is apparently a big cinema complex outside Antwerp. Radical!

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I’d heard that there were hassidic jews in Antwerp, but I wasn’t prepared for the literal swarming that I saw from the bus window. One wonders if the hats (that somewhat resemble the hats of the Easter Island statues) are heavy… Apparently the jews were heading en masse for saturday service, forming a weird and anachronistic parade of religiously colored sameness. The man / child combination seemed to be the norm. The bus also passed a surprisingly long row of diamond shops – right after the jewish quarter – which is of course is no coincidence.

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Getting to the flat proved to be most easily achieved on foot despite my 26 kg travel case– I didn’t risk the confusion of trying public transport. I met my landlords at the flat, who were quite nice, although the suggestion that damaging the bed would result in the 400 euro deposit not being returned seemed rather mysterious. I’ll put that to language barriers for now, and be careful with my bed. The flat comprises of three rooms and a kitchen on the third floor, on top of an interesting staircase.

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For now I have only one flatmate, a girl from Italy, name of Lorena, who studies linguistics at the University of Antwerp, and speaks little Inglish. She was hiding when the landlords showed me around but appeared after they’d gone. There will be a second flatmate come February, which completes the europudding.

After getting settled I was terribly tired, to my not inconsiderable amazement, but I still had the chance to go and develop some hate for Aldi. You really learn to appreciate the finnish convenience store culture, by basically going anywhere else.

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2 Comments

  1. Heikki
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 12:30 | Permalink

    Regarding Aldi et al., there’s a tolerable grocery market on the mysteriously-named Meir, in the Stadsfeestzaal, called Delhaize or something. Probably not the cheapest place to buy your things, but the selection was pretty OK. Also the aura of general shittiness you usually get from non-Scandinavian markets was somewhat less pronounced than usual there. And the Stadsfeestzaal is really… tasteful.

    Have fun, maybe try the Australian ice-cream. Apparently, their story is that their ice-cream is so expensive because it’s made from kangaroo milk. Who knows, a chain of Australian ice-cream stands, wtf?

  2. Posted January 27, 2009 at 08:35 | Permalink

    If you got PLUS there, that might be better. More like the finnish supermarkets and I like to go sometimes when I get sick of AH… We got aldi here too, but only in this horror megastores complex, so I haven’t visited.

    The Dutch seem to be very much about getting everything for the cheapest possible price, especially groceries, and that is somehow catching on, so I’ve found myself considering a trip to aldi… but yeah, maybe not.


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