Thursday, 30 October 2008
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Parking in Brussels, as in any big city of Europe, is very complicated. But in Brussels this is even more complicated than anyone could imagine. And besides, every neighbourhood has its own special rules. In Schaerbeek, this is so difficult to understand that they have even created a dedicated website to explain the rules to people. Of course, this clever idea doesn't work while you are driving and you strive to park your car around, or when you arrive to the city for the first time.
I was so astonished when I understood the system (rules of the game) that I could not believe it. Basically, unless you have a resident card of Schaerbeek, and have paid your parking fees, you cannot park the car more than 2h on the street. It is technically against the law. Not only foreigners are not welcome, but also people from other parts of Brussels or Belgium. Yes there are some areas with machines like this one:
But these machines are very seldom available, and only in some streets, and special spots. You could find yourself that there are no machines around three or more blocks. Not to mention the price (15 € for half a day, and this is the maximum allowed!!! Insane!!!)
So what I did is to contact The Brussels-Europe Liaison Office, which try to help expats solve problems and I asked about this issue. First they told me they were surprised to hear I cannot park my car on the street. When I explained the rules of Schaerbeek, they told me they were going to verify this with the “Commune”. So they called the police of Schaerbeek and the “Commune”. Surprisingly, the person in this office realized that I was right and these rules make no sense at all. She even suggested to pay the fine or park the car in a supermarket parking as an option!!!!!. Yet I asked her, What if my car is towed by the police??? She also found out thet apparently this doesn’t happen very often, but…IT CAN HAPPEN!!!!. This person, even found out that members of the European Parliament who live there, and have cars with foreign plates parked on the street, have had their cars towed because of these stupid rules!!!!
Once again, Brussels is full of surprises and stupid rules, administration and regulations that anyone can logically understand.
Monday, 27 October 2008
I quote a press release from the Commission:
The EU Commission calls on Belgian telecoms regulator to impose more effective regulation on fixed telephone calls.
The lack of effective competition and high tariffs in the Belgian markets for fixed voice calls could result from an ineffective implementation of telecoms regulation. Measures taken by the Belgian telecoms regulator, the 'Institut Belge des services postaux et des télécommunications' (BIPT), have not yet led to competitive prices for fixed line calls. In a letter made public today, the European Commission invites BIPT to ensure that wholesale remedies are properly enforced and asks for a new market analysis to be carried out within one year. BIPT should also revise its price control obligation imposed on Belgacom, the telecoms incumbent, to allow Belgian customers to make cheaper calls as soon as possible.
Belgacom's market share on markets for national calls services
(2003 2004 2005 2006 2007)
Residential – in volume 89 % 76 % 67 % 69 % 65 %
Residential – in value 87 % 73 % 65 % 66 % 66 %
Business – in volume 73 % 68 % 71 % 74 % 75 %
Business – in value 70 % 71 % 75 % 78 % 80 %
Source: BIPT, October 2008
Isn't it almost a MONOPLY ? ? ? ?
More info HERE
Friday, 10 October 2008
I am sure you have experienced them several times in Brussels.
Queues are normal, they happen everywhere. However Brussels has something about queues worth mentioning, and that is: People is used to it, and even worse, I think they like them.
I think that is one of the problem, people is used to it, and they do not complain, and that is why none does anything about it. What was first the chicken or the egg?
Well, believe it or not, I have never seen such a submissiveness for queues anywhere else in the world. There can be queues, but not always. When there are always queues in something, people must complain to the responsible people, otherwise none will move a finger.
Here there is a good example in Brussels: ATMs or Cash dispensers. Not to mention that most restaurants and shops do not accept credit cards, and also not to mention that most of the times these machines do not have more money.
Would you believe that in the whole MIDI train station there is only ONE ATM???
Look at it:
And would you believe in Zaventem international airport, until a few months ago, there were only TWO cash dispensers in the whole airport!!!!! (actually there was a third one in the inside post office, but you could barely see it). Fortunately DEXIA decided to put two or three more down there. But still, I think this is really crazy.
Anyway, until people don’t formally complain about this, it will always be like that.
Need some cash??
This is what I saw the other day in the DELIRIUM TREMENS bar in Brussels.
Delirium Tremens, besides of a beer brand, it is a nice bar in the center of Brussels. It has the most extensive beer menu of the world. More than 2000 beers on the list. Yes, two thousand, simply amazing.
It is then a mandatory stop for any beerlover. But it also reflects the kind of service you should expect in bars.
After three years living in Belgium, I believe less than 5% of the times I have had table service in bars (Excluding hotels of course).
What else can I say?