There is something in this world that I have yet to understand about Belgium and makes this place difficult to grasp for regular visitors or expats.
There is the famous garbage collection in Brussels, where you basically buy special bags (and pay tax with them), separate garbage and then throw everything on the street the night designated for the area you live in. So you can be throwing it out on Monday evening, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, depending on the commune where you live.
I haven’t met anyone in Belgium that wouldn’t have a story to tell about Belgacom, the notorious telecom provider. Knowing their number by heart is the best guarantee for a permanent internet connection and fair billing. They have improved recently I heard…probably because there is more choice and their number of customers decreasing…
And then there is the registration procedure with the commune, the procedure to get a bank account, the housing mania, the…and my favourite: “prioritÃ© Ã droite“. There was a fabulous entry in the Economist newsletter, which inspired me to write about it:
In a bid to reduce dented bumpers, a streamlined new version of Belgiumâ€™s controversial â€œprioritÃ© Ã droiteâ€? rule for motorists takes effect from March 1st. The old law required motorists, in the absence of road-markings, to give way to traffic entering the road from the right, even if the traffic was from a smaller street or joining a motorway. Drivers lost priority if they hesitated, which provided an awkward incentive for motorists to plunge into oncoming traffic, sometimes recklessly (as evidenced by broken glass often strewn over junctions). Belgiumâ€™s highway code was amended last June, after discussions between the transport ministry, the police, the courts and the Belgian institute of road safety. From March 1st drivers entering traffic from the right always have priority, even if they hesitate.
I was hoping in vain, that they would abolish it one day. It’s the most illogic thing I have seen as a traffic rule until now. Ok, it’s French, that doesn’t help. But why should you always be scared that someone will jump on the main road from the right and smashed into you nicely…and then even have the right to claim compensation!?
And the fact that “Drivers lost priority if they hesitated”:) Well…those of you that drive will know, this is worse than nothing.
But there are also very positive things about Belgium. Some are mentioned here, some will be dealt within one of the next posts.