Dog Poo, Traffic Lights and Other Belgian Delights

Dog poo is a problem here in Brussels, as I found out to my chagrin on my way to work in my very first week. Once you’ve slipped on an enormous turd in full view of everyone, and had to scrub your trainers, Lady Macbeth-like, in the sink at work until your fingers were raw just to stop the stench seeping into your office and alerting everyone to your plight – well, trust me, it changes you (and not for the better).

Another problem, for pedestrians at least, is the bizarre traffic light system that operates in Brussels. Bizarrely, at some junctions (I’ve yet to figure out how you work out which these are) even when the lights turn green for pedestrians to walk the cars turning into the road where the lights are positioned are still legally allowed to drive through the crossing. It amazes me there aren’t more road accidents. The same goes for so-called pedestrian crossings, which look the same as in the UK with zebra stripes, but which appear to hold little or no sway with the majority of drivers. Not unless, like me, you stride purposefully into their path and force them to stop – a somewhat dangerous tactic, granted, but often the only way you can get from one side of the road to the other.

To close: a comment about the weather. I believe I’ve mentioned before that Brussels has purportedly held the title of ‘rainiest city in Europe’. Based on my experience to date, I’d say that’s not entirely unjustified, although the incidences of torrential rainfall have been far fewer than those of constant, damp drizzle. That being said, it has not escaped my notice that over the past week, as Britain has been dumped with thick flurries of snow, the weather here has been both crisp and bright; bitingly cold at times, granted, but generally sunny and with only an icing sugar dusting of snow at most. So that, at least, has been most pleasant.