In Europe, two and half hours by road can change everything. From the way people speak to what they eat. Two hours from the Netherlands can take you to France at one end and Germany at the other. Suddenly you’re all ‘Parlez vous Anglais? Ik spreek geen Nederlands!’
But sometimes, countries change and yet things remains just a little bit the same. Kind of like Twilight Zone versions of each other. That’s how we felt during our first week in Belgium. We moved to a bustling city named Leuven, which, the city’s website claims, is the beer capital of Belgium.
A lot of things here feel similar. Or at least familiar.
But within these similarities, the differences are more pronounced. The first thing I noticed was that the Dutch ‘G’ wasn’t quite as guttural here. Oh, that’s right. They don’t speak Dutch here, but Flemish. Or, if I understood correctly, Brabantian Dutch.
Then there are the buses. Though they’re never on time, they are also more likely to wait for you if the driver spots you coming.
The bike lanes tend to disappear randomly, but the bikers don’t seem to mind. Despite actual threat to life they seem less angsty than their Dutch counterparts.
But, to be fair, it’s early days yet. I start Flemish classes soon (they simply call it Dutch here) and hopefully, I’ll have more insight into this end of the Twilight Zone.
Until then, here are some other random observations about how things work in Flanders: flanderingabout.wordpress.com/