A periodically updated account of my stay in Belgium...
winter / spring 1999
hiver / printemps 1999
winter / lente 1999
Winter / Frühling 1999
I would love to publish this page in English, French, Dutch, and German; however, due to time constraints, as well as the facts that (1) most of the people from home who might be interested in what I'm doing over here speak only English and (2) I speak neither Dutch nor German (not yet, at least), I'll stick to my native language. To begin, you might first want to check out the sites for the two major linguistic communities of Belgium:
Communauté Française de Belgique / French Community of Belgium
De Vlaamse Overheid / Flemish Community of Belgium
Since Belgium has three official languages, there exists yet a third officially represented community in Belgium - that of the German speakers:
Die Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft Belgiens (at the present time, I have no web site info for this community)
Citizens of Belgium are members of one of the above communities. The country is divided administratively into three regions: Wallonia, Flanders, and the Brussels-Capital Region. The AllStates Flag & Banner Company has a nice web page describing the flag of the country as well as those of different entities such as these communities. You might want to take a look for yourself. If you are interested in the Brussels-Capital Region, which is where I am presently staying, there is a good web site which offers a calendar of events, links, and a host of other information on the region:
Site officiel de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale / Official Site of the Brussels-Capital Region
By the way, just so you don't think I'm loafing about Europe with no direction, I am actually here on a fellowship granted by the French Community of Belgium and my host institution is the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Nevertheless, I also work in conjunction with people at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Katholieke Universiteit Brussel (two Dutch-speaking universities in the city). My intention is to study language planning and policy while I am here and then transfer the knowledge I acquire into words in the eventual dissertation.
And now on with the show....
Down below you will find some descriptions and links to pictures of
some of my (mis)adventures here in Belgium and anywhere else my travels
this winter and spring may take me.
|12 - 18 Jan 1999||New York, NY||Spending time with my brother. Chino-latino restaurant (finally). Catching up with New Orleans friends in N.Y. Shopping for Belgium.|
|19 - 23 Jan 1999||Brussels, Belgium
|Arrival in Brussels for my stay, taking care of paperwork, settling in, planning for the duration of my program. Receiving a warm welcome, including the shoulder carry and all, by the French speaking people of the country ;-) No Manneken Pis pictures just yet...be patient.|
|24 - 31 Jan 1999||Brussels, Belgium
|Work begins...sort of. I finally get to meet some of the professors I've been in touch with for almost a year now : Marc Wilmet, Marc Dominicy, and Daniel Droixhe. I also had the opportunity to meet with the renowned Hugo Baetens Beardsmore at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (the Dutch-speaking counterpart to the Université Libre de Bruxelles). With respect to my continued tourist's point of view, I got around a bit more. The pictures on the linked page reflect these meanderings. I've seen the divine Manneken Pis, just so you know, but I haven't gotten around to catching him in the act..at least not when I've had my camera.|
|01 - 08 Feb 1999||Brussels, Belgium
|Classes are actually underway. Things are going well, for the most part. I am still trying to get all the administrative kinks worked out, but that's o.k. As far as "work" goes, I've gotten a working bibliography under control and I've at least established contact with various professors and offices here in Brussels as well as elsewhere in Belgium. The European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages Brussels Information Center is going to be a great source of departure (at the very least) for my research. I've been in touch with Fundación Galicia-Europa and the Patronat Català Pro Europa here in Brussels and will be consulting their libraries. Within about two weeks or so I expect to have enough material to actually be able to delve in and come up with some solid work. At the moment, I'm still looking for a place to learn Dutch efficiently and sufficiently enough so that I can read relevant texts, but that will undoubtedly work itself out sooner or later. On the "play" end of things, I've met a few people who are interested in some of the same things as I am, without being too specific. They are Birgit, Ricardo, and Guillaume...pictures possibly to come at some point in the future. Making acquaintances is definitely a good thing when you're light years away from your familiars. FYI, I'm now a card-bearing member of the Centro Galego de Bruselas. As you will see in the pics page for this update, I've met a swell gal who promises to be a superb acquaintance and friend, Françoise. She is the aunt of Philippe Radelet, who is Belgian by birth and now a noble French teacher in my grand state of Louisiana, which is currently celebrating 300 years of French heritage, in case you didn't know.|
|09 - 14 Feb 1999||Brussels, Belgium
|More chilly weather. Gallivanting about the city of Brussels. A Queimada Friday the 12th (but no pictures) at La Tentation / Centro Galego de Bruselas. Trying to figure out railway chart hieroglyphics so that I can get from one place to another in the country...not as easy as it may sound. I got in touch with two linguists in Paris with whom I will meet later this spring. Highlight of the week by far: "Chocolat Passion"!|
|15 - 15 Feb 1999||Cologne, Germany||Guillaume and I went on a day trip to Cologne (Köln), Germany to celebrate Carnival. Kind of 'animated', even at 10 a.m., it reminded me of New Orleans.|
|16 - 16 Feb 1999||Binche, Belgium||Traveling with four friends from the Cité Universitaire, I experienced a traditional, provincial, yet incredibly rowdy approach to Mardi Gras in the francophone region of Belgium, not far from Mons.|
|17 - 25 Feb 1999||Brussels, Belgium
|NEW...clickable pictures! A couple of people asked me why the
pictures were not 'clickable', I said I hadn't really thought about it,
so now they are. Click on them for larger versions. About this
period...of course I went to the Centro Galego on Friday, this time with
the regulars Birgit and Ricardo, AND two catalanas--Nuria and Arés--and
two españolas (andaluces)--Marta and Rosa. Once again, I've
managed to be drawn to 'all things hispanic'. Oh well. Guess
there's no hope for me. I went with Françoise to the Institut
Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique. They've got some great
On the work end of things, I spent another excellent and incredibly productive day at the Brussels Info Center of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages. While I was there, in fact looking at some materials about the revival (reemphasizing) of Welsh in Wales, a group of students and teachers from a heavily bilingual town in Wales came on a sort of field trip to the office. Interesting. I've gotten at this point a fairly extensive bibliography for Galicia (Galiza / Galicia), Wales (Cymru), and Ireland (Éire), and obviously Belgium. Still left to go is Cataluña (Catalunya), for which I've seen a great deal of info and will obviously need to trudge through when I have a nice big block of time. I seem to be heading in the direction of the possible working title "language policy and legislation versus language reality : convergence or divergence?"
|21 - 21 Feb 1999||Oostende, Belgium||Made it to the beach under the lovely rainy and windy skies of the Flemish coast. There was actually a period of sunlight for about an hour and a half. I was excited. After a lunch of moules et frites (mussels and fries), we went to Blankenberge, about a half-hour by tram down the coast. Blankenberge is apparently a summer 'resort town', but during the winter, you can still visit the Sea Life Center.|
|23 - 23 Feb 1999||Mons, Belgium||What a charming, quaint town. My appreciation for the city was augmented because of the nice weather, which is always welcome. I met with Marie-Louise Moreau, a professor of sociolinguistics (specializing in language attitudes, linguistic insecurity, Francophone Africa...) at the Université de Mons-Hainaut. She gave me some good insight as well as a copy of a relevant bibliography and the web address of the electronically available journal DiversCité Langues. I've got on this page some pictures of perhaps the most important tourist stops in the city : Le Collégiale Ste. Waudru and the Hôtel de Ville de Mons. An aside...it was incredibly difficult to find a working telephone in the city.|
|24 - 28 Feb 1999
01 - 10 Mar 1999
Apparently I got busy during this period of time and didn't do too much picture taking. Good for me. I did go to the Katholieke Universiteit Brussel to meet with Peter Nelde and his team of researchers in het Onderzoekscentrum voor Meertaligheid (le Centre de Recherche sur le Plurilinguisme or The Center for Research on Multilingualism). I will be going back there from time to time for the remainder of my stay here. I also went for a preliminary meeting with a representative at the the Patronat Català Pro Europa.
|11 - 11 Mar 1999||Antwerpen, Belgium||Françoise and I went on a day trip to Antwerp to see what there was to see there. This was pretty much the pivotal day for weather in Belgium : it was apparent this day that spring was near...the sun came out! We went to the Rubenshuis Museum (the house of the early XVII C artist Peter Paul Rubens), paid to go into the Cathedral of Our Lady (first time I think I've ever had to pay to go into a church), had a nice lunch in a cool restaurant near the grote markt, strolled along the River Scheldt, and did some window shopping along the Meir.|
|12 - 17 Mar 1999||Parents Arrive||The parents actually arrived on the morning of March 13, but I throw in the 12th because I spent that whole day getting ready for the big arrival...actually, I passed a good part of that night continuing to investigate travel options for the voyagers during their stay in Europe. Upon their arrival, I took them to their hotel overlooking the Grand Place in Brussels. About ten minutes after they put down their luggage, we were picked up by Françoise for their driving tour around Brussels. During this period, they rented a car to go to Amsterdam (in The Netherlands), went to Waterloo to trace Napoléon's footsteps, and hit Bruges. They arrived back from Bruges on St. Patrick's Day night around 9:30 and I said to get ready for a depart the following morning at 7:15 for Ireland!|
|18 - 22 Mar 1999||Ireland||There were some people out there who were convinced my parents would never get to Ireland; however, we arrived in Dublin around 10:30 a.m. and were greeted at the airport by Sr. Helen, who had at that moment left her duties as principal of the school to the assistant principal. She took us to the B&B where we would be staying for the night, then brought us to the convent for tea and homemade scones. The view from the kitchen was incredible : Ireland is truly as green as we thought it would be, if not greener. We did all of our Dublin sight seeing on Thursday afternoon, visited with Sr. Céline on St. Stephen's Green, and made it right on time to our meeting point, where our ride was waiting. We went to dinner that night with Srs. Goretti and Céline and then went for some wonderful Irish coffee at Sr. Goretti's. Friday morning we had our Irish breakfasts, complete with black and white puddings, and went into the city. I got my bodhrán and spent quite some time in the music store. Later that afternoon we headed off to Malahide Castle and then onwards to Waterford. Dinner in Waterford was quite good (the restaurant was called Mc Cluskey's, if I remember correctly). We got to the Roncalli Bed and Breakfast and went straight to sleep. Saturday morning was spent in the Waterford Crystal showroom and then we left for Youghal, where Sr. Cecilia would be eagerly awaiting our arrival. Everyone said that we would be impressed with the situation of the convent in Youghal, and we were. Wait until you see the view! Sr. Cecilia took us around that part of County Cork and then we had dinner at the Walter Raleigh Hotel in Youghal. Sunday morning we went to 8:00 a.m. mass and then walked around the town. We saw the house where Walter Raleigh lived when he was in Youghal, and I went up to the top of one of the ancient fort walls surrounding the city. We headed off for Fermoy where we were more than warmly greeted by the entire Loreto community there. We had lunch with them and then were given the grand tour. We then headed back to Dublin by way of Cashel and dined with Srs. Goretti, May, and Michael in their home. The following morning we left Dublin at the crack of dawn to continue on with the adventure. I would like to express our deepest gratitude to all of those Irish who received us so hospitably.|
|23 - 25 Mar 1999||Germany & Switzerland||After arriving by plane into Charleroi airport and sitting in traffic on the way into Brussels, we got our stuff together to begin the next leg of the journey, which would begin with the 7:11 p.m. overnight train from Brussels to Munich. The Munich experience was brief but worth it. For ALL of those people who wanted to know why my mom wanted to go to Munich...I really don't know the one reason. It was more of a calling I guess. We did amazingly well, considering the unpeaceful train ride, and took in perhaps most of what tourists go to Munich for in the amount of time that we had. Above all, the evening at the Hofbräuhaus made the trip worthwhile. The next day we left shortly after breakfast for the Dachau Concentration Camp and then it was onwards to Schwangau and Füssen. That night we stopped in Lindau and the next day made our way through the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) to France.|
|25 - 28 Mar 1999||Strasbourg & Paris, France||Strasbourg : a storybook city right out of the Middle Ages and now the seat of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. We arrived there in the middle of afternoon traffic, but managed to get to the tourist office and eventually find an underground parking space right in the middle of the old town. We then took in the absolutely stunning cathedral...my first thought was that they must pay the organist overtime at weddings, since it must take the bride about ten minutes to walk down the aisle. I got ideas there, but no realistic ones, so I won't share them here. Besides the sheer size of the cathedral, another attraction is the astronomical timepiece. After the cathedral, we quickly 'strolled' through La Petite France, with its narrow cobbled streets, its uncovered 'covered' bridges, and its canals. Off it was towards Paris, spending a significant percentage of the French francs we had to get there. We stopped for the night in Châlons-en-Champagne (Châlons-sur-Marne) and continued the next morning on to Paris. Once again, I was impressed by the never-ending energy of my parents...maybe the crêpes helped though. Here's a list of the sites we passed ("did") that Friday afternoon in Paris (all on foot, mind you) : Jardin du Luxembourg, Odéon, Panthéon, La Sorbonne, Notre Dame, Hôtel de Ville, Le Louvre (in passing), Angélina (in case we hadn't already had enough rich food on the trip, the chocolat africain for two, which could have easily served four, and the two desserts we got certainly did the trick), the Obélisque, Champs Élysées, l'Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. Our first night in Paris, we took big brother's advice and got on the dusk cruise aboard a bateau mouche after having purchased a bottle of red wine. Of course, I ran about a mile right before the river cruise to go find three little plastic cups...and good thing Dad got me that Swiss Army knife with the corkscrew. Despite the presence of a group of obnoxious high schoolers from, of all places, Auburn ;-) it was a lovely evening. The next day the folks went to Versailles and wherever else they managed to get to, while I went to Montmartre and then to the Musée d'Orsay. That night I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of John Humbley, professor at U. Paris XIII and friend of the world-renowned Mike Picone (of Tuscaloosa fame). He provided me not only a warm welcome, but also further direction for my research. That Sunday was Palm Sunday, so we joined the throngs to attend mass at Notre Dame, then we set out to go see Maxim's (so George could reminisce) and the Moulin Rouge before we left Paris. Of course we accomplished this goal, so we got on the Thalys (the 'other' high speed train) and headed back to Brussels. It felt good to be home again.|
|29 - 31 Mar 1999
01 - 14 Apr 1999
|The only two pictures I've got here are of my Good Friday dining experience. Although Good Friday was the only day captured digitally, Annelize, Peter, and I collaborated on a dinner Easter Saturday that could have been served in the best of restaurants. By looking at the pictures here and listening to my testimony, one might say that the only thing I did during this period was cook and eat. This, however, would be a false claim. After the parentals left on the morning of March 29, I took it easy for a few days to recuperate from the exhausting trek through northwestern Europe. I went with Patrick Beaumont, yet another friend of Philippe, to the two Musées des Beaux Arts (le Musée d'Art Ancien et le Musée d'Art Moderne). I worked on the many pages and images that made the last update (focusing on the 'visite des parents'). Believe it or not, I also worked on the project that is the reason that I am in Belgium! In addition, on Easter Saturday night, after the aforementioned dinner with Annelize and Peter, I went to an Easter Vigil mass at the high-baroque Eglise des St. Jean et St. Etienne aux Minimes. After listening to a powerful rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus", backed by the grand pipe organ of the church, I was given some chocolates and a dyed Easter egg upon leaving.|
|15 - 20 Apr 1999||San Francisco, CA||Five pages and a flash card full of photos! After plotting with Steve how to get to San Francisco unannounced (and after battling with Air France to actually get there), I made it. It was nice to see that much sun. By following the link at left, you will discover some of the highlights of the journey around the globe.|
|20 - 21 Apr 1999||New York, NY||No Pictures. Sorry. This amounted to a day and a half of rest from a packed weekend; lunch with an amico; dinner with Steve, Susan (of whom you'll probably be seeing more pictures in about a month), and two of their friends; and a little planning for the upcoming New Yorkers' visit to the Continent.|
|22 - 30 Apr 1999||Brussels, Belgium
|With only a little more drama on the part of Air France, I made it back to Brussels...eventually. The weekend was spent organizing thoughts and plans and brainstorming for the final steps of the current research project as well as for a few future investigations. I went to the Katholieke Universiteit Brussel to meet with Professor Peter Nelde and his team at the Onderzoekcentrum voor Meertaligheid / Centre de Recherche sur le Plurilinguisme / Forschungsstelle für Mehrsprachigkeit / Research Center on Multilingualism. He gave me some excellent direction and will provide me with access to the materials housed at the center and in the K.U.Brussel library for the next month.|
|30 - 30 Apr 1999
01 - 07 May 1999
So once again it has taken quite a while to get back to the web site. The reason for this is that I actually had to work on my research and get things accomplished, leaving me with no time to spend on picture editing and page formatting. This next group of pages I am presently putting up will probably be the last set until I get back to the United States in a few weeks (it is presently June 13).
May is the month of long weekends here, apparently. First there is Labor Day weekend (3 days), then Ascension Thursday weekend (4 days), and then Whit Monday (3 days). Luckily, spring was in the air for much of this time. Most of my time was spent reading, researching, and writing parts of what would become my final paper to send to Prof. Arnulfo Ramírez in Bâton Rouge on selected language policies and cases of language planning in the European Union. This concentration on work is reflected on the lack of photos. The paper was faxed to L.S.U. on Friday May 7. Woo hoo!
FRANCE signs the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages!!! Now we await ratification...
|08 - 09 May 1999||Wallonie, Belgium||To celebrate my partial liberation and the beautiful weather, Françoise invited me to her chalet in Thon, in the Samson Valley in the Ardennes for the weekend. We went to an exposition on Celts and Gallo-Romans in the Ardennes in Treignes, visited many small villages and chateaux, and took in both Dinant and Namur...all at a relaxed pace and all before I had to be in Tourinnes-la-Grosse on Sunday (Mothers' Day) afternoon for a concert by the Charlemagne Chamber Orchestra in the XIII Century Church of St. Martin. The Pelzers had been organizing this concert, so I got roped into distributing programs and serving wine (one glass for you, two for me!) at the following buffet. Definitely not a bad way to celebrate the achievement of an academic year.|
|10 - 14 May 1999||Brussels, Belgium||No Pictures. If I remember correctly, I spent this week organizing the documents and books I had amassed (and continue to amass), after having strewn them around the floor of my room during the paper writing process. In addition, I was trying to put together last minute details of the approaching visit of "my brothers," as Steve, Rory, and Susan were affectionately called by Liliane. This I did despite the fact that Stephen kept insisting that they would be 'low maintenance.'|
|15 - 18 May 1999||Brussels & Flanders||Steve, Rory, and Susan arrive on Saturday the 15th, so of course the first thing we do is go to the Parc de Tervuren. We did some sightseeing and ate at the seemingly unpopular...before the wine sank in...Roi d'Espagne. Sunday was Moules & Frites day Chez Léon and dinner Chez les Pelzer. Monday was the excursion to Gent and Brugge, and Tuesday was the departure to Holland by way of Antwerpen.|
|18 - 22 May 1999||The Netherlands & Flanders||After leaving Antwerp we worked our way north towards Delft, which proved to be a beautiful small city (town) between Rotterdam and the Hague (Den Haag). Delft is the home of the world-famous Royal Delft Pottery (porcelain). We were looking forward to spending a small amount of time in this charming town and moving on; however, the refrain resounded: "The Hague is Full!" Yes indeed it was. Apparently every lodging establishment in the area was completely booked. We trekked through Rijswijk (although we referred to it using a slightly more endearing term) and on to Leiden in search of accommodation, passing a Movenpick along the way. The Hillbilly adventure continues!...the four of us ended up with a beautiful spot for the night complete with a view of a wooded area, perhaps with a pond (if I remember correctly) and very rustic accommodations ;-) The morning of the 19th was our time to actually take in Delft and later make our way to Gouda (pronounced HOW-da, in Dutch), and north to Amsterdam. We spend two and a half days in Amsterdam...doing it all...before moving on to Utrecht and eventually Maastricht. In Maastricht we were more than warmly welcomed by Charles and Maurice, who provided us with luxury accommodations for two days and showed us around Maastricht and the province of Limburg.|
|23 - 27 May 1999||Northern France||Susan headed back to N.Y. on the morning of the 23, so we said our goodbyes and took care of some business in Brussels before hitting the road again. We stopped to get gas somewhere in Wallonie (probably between Brussels and Mons) and happened to meet (because we needed to exchange cash for use of his bank card at the gas station) a man whose sister is a French teacher in Pierre Part, Louisiana...small is not the right adjective to describe the world, it's more like *tiny*. Anyway, we hung out in Mons for a little over an hour, bought some Neuhaus chocolate since this was, in fact, the last Belgian stop of their trip, and continued on towards the border. We spent a little while in Rouen then made our way through Normandy and into Brittany. We spent the next day visiting Le Mont St. Michel and St. Malo, had dinner overlooking the Mont at sunset, then left on the morning of the 25th for Rennes, where I had a meeting with Catherine Bouroulleg at the Ofis ar Brezhoneg (Office de la langue bretonne) of the Cultural Institute of Brittany, funded by the Conseil Régional de Bretagne. Whilst I chatted about language planning and legislation with Mlle Bouroulleg, Steve and Rory took in whatever there was to see in Rennes (none of which I saw). We then purchased edibles for the car and continued to Paris, where we finally got rid of the car at the Gare de Lyon. We had a superb hotel on the Left Bank as our base of operations for the short amount of time we had together during this, the final leg of a long and wonderful voyage through Belgium, The Netherlands, and Northern France. After Steve and Rory left on Thursday mornig, I went out to Villetanneuse, to the Université de Paris XIII, where I met with John Humbley and worked on some bibliographic information (collecting more sources). I then went back into the city to meet with Daniel Prado of the Union Latine / Unión Latina / Unione Latina / União Latina / Uniunea Latinâ (please imagine the circumflex upside down) and spent the entire afternoon discussing what it is that they are all about. I took the Thalys back to Brussels late that afternoon.|
|28 - 31 May 1999
01 - 03 June 1999
|Brussels, Belgium||Everything from this point on will be updated once I get back into
the U.S. I would assume. The next few weeks will be rather hectic.
Preparation, preparation, preparation...
|04 - 08 June 1999||Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom||Beautiful pictures and more tales will come in a few weeks...just
I arrived at the airport without a place to stay for the four nights I would be in Edinburgh, only to find out that everything was booked due to the Rolling Stones concert that weekend. Anyway, I found a place and got in touch with Will Lamb, who is working on his PhD in Celtic and Linguistics. He informed me of a ceilidh that night. I went and had a blast. Saturday morning there was a demonstration supporting Breton-medium education demonstration held in front of the French Consulate on Randolph Crescent. Despite my strong connections with the Consulat Général de France à La Nouvelle-Orléans, I attended. Saturday afternoon was spent sightseeing and chatting with others who had been present at the demonstration...over a pint or two or three. On Sunday morning I attended a service conducted in Gàidhlig and was instantly embraced by the congregation. After spending a couple of hours in a bookstore (surprise) to avoid the downpour, I had a magnificent meal of haggis, neeps, and tatties...of course accompanied by a measure of incredibly smooth whisky. I was then totally prepared for my meeting with Davyth Hicks, a Cornish speaker and PhD candidate at Edinburgh about Breton, Cornish, and celtic activism in general. Monday brought about department visits to look at the postgraduate courses in Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, and Linguistics at The University of Edinburgh.
|09 - 14 June 1999||Brussels, Belgium||Packing and mailing; K.U.Brussel; Hadi & Christine's play Pourquoi pas fou?; Getting ready for the Prague/Berlin experience; Web update...|
|15 - 17 June 1999||Prague, Czech Republic||?|
|18 - 21 June 1999||Berlin, Germany||?|
|22 - 25 June 1999||Brussels, Belgium||?|
|26 - 27 June 1999||Paris, France||?|
|28 - 28 June 1999||Waterloo, Belgium||?|
|29 - 30 June 1999||Brussels, Belgium||?|
|01 - ?? July 1999||New York, NY, USA||Return to the United States|
Click on the links above, in the Location column, to see some pics from each part of my adventure.
Maybe you're interested in what the Weather Channel has to say about the Weather in Brussels.