Arrived in Brussels
4. February 2010, 09:23PM
Posted By Sven Krohlas
Ok, just to let everyone know: I arrived in Brussels, where I will give a talk about Amarok on Saturday at FOSDEM. At 17:30, iirc.
The flight was quite interesting (well, I don't fly that much, generally I try to avoid it due to the environmental issues): there were just eleven passengers on board. And it was so short that I had to empty my free drink fast as they announced the landing procedure.
Also quite funny: meeting people at the airport and seeing them a few minutes later again near the Grande Place. You're spying on me, aren't you? ;-)
I guess for the first time in my life someone tried to rob me. You know, you're standing there, looking at the map, then this guy shows up, saying something you don't understand (that's the moment paranoia level goes up to the max), starts swiping your jacket (check: no other strangers in the range of two meters), he tries to make you understand that some liquid was on the jacked (ok, now everything is clear as water...), wants you to take it off (let's play a little game...), tries to hold it in his hands (you know that I know your plans, there's nothing of any value in it and your friends five meters away won't get closer because I already spotted them...), and then walks away (Ha! Giving up already?). Fun. :-) So remember: keep anything of value in places that cannot be reached in a matter of seconds.
The hotel was relatively easy to find but I have to confess it's totally not my style. First they required me to fill out a form. A form asking for name (so far, so good), birth date (it gets interesting), home address, profession (you see where it goes?), nationality, identity card or passport number (!!!), the authority that delivered that passport, date of arrival, number on your motor-vehicles plate, other family members: wife (including maiden name!), number of children (what the hell do you want to do to my non existent children?), date of departure and something I didn't get, I suppose the current date.
If I had a wife and would check in together with her that information would be enough to open a bank account in her name in Germany! Why the hell do they ask all those questions? The guy at the reception said the law required it. "Controlle des voyageurs dans les hotels et maisons d'herbergement" is the title of the form and according to him also the name of the law. Can anybody verify this? I'm quite sure that can't be legal from a human rights point of view. Never ever!
Of course I tried to cheat a bit: I gave them both my nationalities, but in the German short form. And I didn't try to give them a good handwriting of the number of my Swedish passport. If you know my handwriting you know what that means. This should be good enough to confuse automated systems that work on this data.
Oh, and I took a blank one of those forms with me. Really, there something has to be done. Any Belgian pirates reading this? I am not too paranoid on this, am I?
If I don't show up tomorrow then they brought me to Guantanamo. ;-) After asking those critical questions I paid cash, for which I earned a surprised look. Hey, I only want to live my life without being monitored, but if I do I'm automatically being looked at suspiciously.
Internet costs 2.50 euros per 30 minutes, a day is 10 euros. Oh, and the clock starts ticking the moment you log in. Logging out seems not to be implemented yet. Funny people. The room for the night I'm early is also more expensive than I thought, 129 euros. Well, I'm sure they pay a developer to implement a fair accounting system for their wireless. They do, they do, they do! *putting fingers in my ears* Lalalalala... So if you can read this it's very likely I used their wireless for a lot of money (Update: I have and they combined my freshly received account data with my room number... hello European data retention regulations!). According to Wireshark no one else logged in in the last three hours. ;-(
Apart from that Brussels hasn't changed much. I found some waffles in a supermarket (maybe I should get some beer there tomorrow to bring it home) and a nice Italian restaurant with cheap prices. At least for Brussels, in Karlsruhe 10 Euros for a lasagne would still be quite expensive. But it was very good and I had a chance to practise my rusty French a bit. Oh, and the Celtica club (more like a Irish bar with live music and DJ) someone recommended to me is also just around the corner. same for the Delerium Café, where the beer event will take place.
Plan for tomorrow: visiting the European Parliament together with some Swedish members from the Pirate and Green parties. And later today I'm gonna try out that bath tub, I haven't had a warm bath since I moved out of my parents flat years ago. So that has to be used then. :)