04 March 2006

Three countries in one day

BerlinBear avatar For me as a New Zealander, one of the strangest and most enjoyable things about living in Europe is the potential for visiting or travelling through multiple countries in one day. From New Zealand, if you want to get to another country, the only options are by boat or plane, and the fastest you can possibly get to another country is the two and three-quarter hours it takes to get to Sydney. And once you get there, obviously, they speak the same language. Not so in Europe, where 4 or 5 countries and 5 or 6 language communities in one day are perfectly manageable.

So it was yesterday that Miss Behaviour and I set off from Trier for a day trip to Antwerp. Visiting Antwerp per se was not our intention. Instead we wanted to go to a specific shop in Antwerp. So we did. We travelled by train from Trier (language: German), through Luxembourg (languages: French, L
ëtzebuergesch, German), to Brussels (languages: French, Flemish) to Antwerp (language: Flemish). We got off the train, went to our shop, made our purchase, had a late lunch, wandered around for an hour or so, bought some chocolates and truffles for the Behaviour parents, and came back. The whole trip took about 13 hours, of which around 10 were spent in trains. In that time, we travelled through three countries and five language communities, ourselves speaking all the while a sixth language, English. I know I'm a tragic language geek, but that to me is fundamentally cool. Even though I've now lived in Europe for over six years, I still have not quite adjusted to the easy access to other countries and languages. As a result, I still get a disproportionate amount of pleasure on the few occasions I take advantage of this proximity.

Anyway, below are a couple of photos of Antwerp. The weather wasn't great and it was fairly dark, meaning the lighting is not the best. Nonetheless, I think they still give a hint of some of the lovely buildings in the central city (click for larger images).