Life in Tokyo and Brussels

Life in Tokyo and Brussels

Week 328 - October 18, 2015

LifePosted by michael Tue, October 20, 2015 03:30:25

It was again a busy weekend. And if all would have gone to plan it would even have been a bit more busy.

Unfortunately on Thursday Alex cam back from school with broken glasses. His teacher told us that they had fallen from the first floor. Alex is not very clear about what exactly happened but from what he told it looks more like they were thrown down (by a friend of his). The result however is the same: fram of glasses broken and new expenses for papa and mama.

So on Saturday we went to order a new frame and because of this had to cancel a visit to Sigrid and Erik (Sigrid studied with me and worked at Alcatel). It's been a long time we did not see them; we now rescheduled to next week.

This also gave us a bit more time to get ready for the October Fest in Brussel. For years now, the Bavarian representation to the European Union organises a German style drinking party in the European neighborhood of Brussels. A big tent, more than 1000 people, huge 1L beer glasses, sausages, sauerkrout, pretzels and a life Schlager band make for a nice evening out. And as time went by, people (we too) got more and more drunk and the volume went up. In fact every 30 minutes or so the Schlager band called for a toast. Every time this toast was brought everybody in the tent stood up, clinked the big glasses together and shouted:

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit (A toast, a toast)

Der Gemütlichkeit (To cheer and good times)

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit (A toast, a toast)

Der Gemütlichkeit. (To cheer and good times)


Not the most refined of parties, but full of laughter and some good times.

On Sunday we had to get up relatively early, but managed to do so without a headache or a hang-over. We went to pick up the kids at my parents place and then headed to Pairi Daiza (a big zoo 50 km south of Brussels) where we met with Francois and Daphne and their 3 kids (Alix, Julia and Hugo). Francois is an ex colleague of mine from Alcatel.

Pairi Daiza is a zoo that has been going through important expansions over the past years. This has further increased with the arrival of 2 Pandas last year. A complete new China-inspired section has been added to the park. The arrival of the Panda's led to plenty of (political) discussions since it was rumored that the Prime Minister at that time (Elio Di Rupo; who used to be Maire of Mons a city close by) had used his political influence to get the Pandas to Pairi Daiza instead of the Plankendael zoo. The fact that getting the Pandas to Belgium cost around 10MEUR did not help all the discussions.

In fact the Pandas are on loan only. All Pandas in the world are apparently owned by the Chinese government. Zoos arround the world can get some on loan, but only if they agree to strict rules related to housing and food for the animals. A real business.

I was not very impressed by the Pandas but they seem to be attracting much more visitors to the park then before. Francois told us that when he was a kids, the park was just a big free playground with some farm animals. Now it hosts a huge Chinese pavilion, a Thai-looking temple complex, a old villa filled with aquariums and more. Compared to the zoo in Antwerp or Plankendael this one is much more impressive. We for sure will be returning there.

The visit to the zoo took the whole day. Because of that we missed the live transmission of Argentina's Rugby World Cup quarter final against Ireland. We had however recorded it and watched the game tonight. Marina could not wait for the results so new the result before starting. But since Argentina won she could not stay quiet long. Nevertheless we enjoyed a very intense match that Argentina won. Next Sunday they will play the semi final against Australia.

At school Alex and Matías are doing great. Alex is really fully into school and seems to have lots of fun with his new friends. Alex is having some homework from time to time (but less for the moment then he used to have in the first year). We nevertheless make him read regularly (which he mostly enjoys, once he gets convinced to start). Every Wednesday my parents are also taking some time for reading, writing and some math exercises. He is making nice progress.

Alex is also still fully motivated by his fencing and circus classes. Matías is not yet doing any after school activities. As soon as he is allowed (so when he turns 4) we will send him to swimming classes.

It's not because Matías is smaller that he is not standing his ground with bigger kids. On Friday Hadrien, Alex' best friend, stayed the night and the 3 kids played nicely together. And we were constantly hearing Matías give commands to the other two bigger boys about what to do and where to go. We wonder what that will give when he turns into a teenager...

All the pictures of this week are here.