Life in Tokyo and Brussels

Life in Tokyo and Brussels

Week 446 - February 21, 2016

LifePosted by michael Tue, February 23, 2016 02:03:22
The rainy and cold weather is perfect for getting sick. And this is exactly what Alex did on Friday. He woke up with more than 39 degrees of fever and so we had to quickly arrange with my parents for them to help us out.... again. On Saturday morning he was OK again, but by the time it was 5pm his fever spiked again and so we spent most of the weekend at home. Tonight I brought Alex to my parents for them to take care of him the first couple of days of the week to come. The big question now is how much time it will take before Matías gets ill as well. The bets are open...

The rainy and cold weather are also perfect for us to be longing more and more to nice weather and holidays. We are all suffering a bit from the winter blues, but to remedy this a bit we took a couple of steps this week in arranging holidays. We booked various hotels in the Como-lake area in Italy for the first week of July. That first week we will take Abuelo Daniel on a trip to Italy.

The rainy and cold weather is also annoying Cedric and Dawn. Cedric is the cook that has a nice bed-and-breakfast in Southern-England where we spend a couple of days some years ago around Easter. He is visiting Belgium and suffering from the rain for the sight-seeing. On Saturday night we went out for dinner with them together with Susanne and Richard (Richard is family of Cedric). We headed to the Belga Queen, one of the well-known addresses in Brussels set in an impressive building that served as a bank many decennials ago. The bar of the restaurant is located in the old Vault, the eating place is in the old hall of the bank.

The rainy and cold weather is also not helping with traffic. Causing many accidents and the associated traffic jams. In Brussels these days we are not only suffering from accidents, but also from tunnels that are being closed because they are deemed too dangerous to drive through because of bad maintenance. There is an ring-road around the micro-center of Brussels that uses many tunnels to allow, in theory, for fluid traffic. It now seems that many of these tunnels are suffering from old-age and bad maintenance over the past years. As a result one of those tunnels (at the end of the Louiza-avenue) was already closed a couple of weeks ago causing major traffic jams throughout the day. On Friday they then also partly closed the Montgomery Tunnel, another major access road to Brussels, for the same reason. Marina is passing by this tunnel every day on her way to work, so we hope it will not cause her too much trouble.

Since it is assumed to cost more than 500MEUR to repair the tunnels there are a lot of political discussions and finger-pointing between the Brussels, Flanders and national governments. The tunnels are in Brussels, but the users are mainly people from Flanders and Wallonia coming to work in the capital. So the Brussels government wants contributions for the reparations from the other regions who do not really see it as their responsibility. On the other hand, the Brussels government would love to reduce traffic in Brussels, but to accomplish this the public transport network around Brussels should be extended which is the responsibility of the other regions. So everybody looks to everybody. A good example of the strangeness of the public transport is that the area around the Brussels airport (located not in Brussels but in Flanders and full of offices) is not served by the public transport of the city of Brussels. The metro and tram service of Brussels gets you to around 2km from the office area around the airport, but the last kilometers are on Flanders territory and thus not allowed for the Brussels transport company. As a consequence people working in that area can only get there by car, causing plenty of traffic (jams).

The good news with stuck traffic is that deadly accidents are much less likely. I heard today that for youngsters between 20 and 24 years of age, fatal car accidents are still the most important cause of death (30% of deaths are caused by this). A frightening number if you ask me.


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