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April 19, 2013 / neiltheseal85

Belgium, the country that can’t take a joke

I'm sorry guys

Me with some appropriate street art in Antwerp

I wasn’t planning on writing about Belgium again but after thoroughly insulting the entire nation with my last post, I thought I would try to set the record straight – especially since I am probably no longer welcome to enter the country. I don’t hate Belgium, I actually really love it. Having said that, Belgium really is a weird place and the people there should really know it by now.

So many angry Belgians

So many angry Belgians

But seriously, I have been to Belgium – three times – and I actually do love it. I’ve been to Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges and it is probably the country I would choose to live in if I had to leave Australia. Anyway, here is a list of things that I do like about Belgium:

The art

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Nobody can deny that Belgium has a rich history of art. From the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century, Belgians have been at the forefront of the art world. Names such as Reubens, Breughel, Magritte and Van Eyck are practically household names. Well there is another name that should be added to that list: Wim Delvoye.

“Who?” You might ask. Well to provide a little bit of background, Wim Delvoye is a Belgian neo-conceptual artist who “is involved in a way of making art that re-orients our understanding of how beauty can be created”. His most famous piece is a “comment on the Belgians’ love of fine dining” which, obviously in Belgium, means a machine that makes poo. I’m not sure what made Wim wake up one morning and decide “what the world needs is a machine that makes poo”. Anyway, the poo machine – or “Cloaca” as Wim prefers to call it – is a real thing and apparently he even sells the “smelly” turds for $1,000 each.

“Cloaca” in motion

The Beers

Charles de Gaulle once famously said about France “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”. If what he says is true, then it’s no wonder Belgium is such a shambles. How does one govern a county with over 1,000 types of beer? If you read my last post, then you will know that the answer is, not very well at all.

Belgians and beer go together like Russians and vodka. In fact, Belgians love beer so much that they even used to serve it to children at school. While Belgium may be world famous for Stella Artois (AKA “wife beater”) I have to admit, the place does have some amazing beers. My love affair with Belgian beer started with Hoegaarden (which frankly tastes a little like soap) and continues today. I would drink Belgian beer exclusively if I could, but it’s pretty expensive here.

An interesting beer is called Gueuze which is brewed in an open vat during a certain time of year when wild yeasts are floating around. The end result is a sour and pretty much undrinkable beer that most people would throw away – most people that is. Some of these beers are infused with fruit like cherries or ninkeberry (whatever that is) and given ominous names like “Sudden Death” (Mort Subite).

The supposed “world’s best beer” Westvleteren 12 is also brewed in Belgium, and the people who run the brewery sound like they have modelled their business plan from Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. To buy the beer you have to reserve it beforehand on their designated “beer phone”. When somebody calls up they are told the type and quantity of beer that they are allowed to purchase. People are even restricted as to how frequently they can buy the beer. Sales are limited to one order every 60 days, per person, per license plate and phone number.

Beer glasses

The Belgians take their love of beer to a new level. Other countries like Germany and the UK are also famous for beer, but they are generally not too fussed about the presentation. As long as it’s cold and fizzy (or in the UK, warm and flat) then that’s enough for them. The Belgians however are a different bunch. For each of their 1,000 or so different styles of beer, there is a glass that is specifically suited to enhance its flavour. There are far too many of these to list but my personal favourite is the one for the beer Kwak

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Apparently this strange design came about to allow coachmen to have a drink even though they weren’t allowed to leave their coach. To get over this hurdle, Pauwel Kwak had a special glass blown that could be hung onto the coach, enabling the coachman to drink without getting off. This is true Belgian ingenuity, most countries would have just accepted the fact that they couldn’t have a drink and carried on with their job. But not the Belgians, you can never get between a Belgian and their beer.

This obsession with glassware goes deeper than simply serving a beer in its own special glass. If the correct glass isn’t available, I suspect that most Belgians would refuse to drink it at all. I stayed at a hostel in Ghent where the owner apologised profusely when I ordered a beer from him that he he didn’t have the right glass for. Having to drink an Orval from a Liefmans glass really didn’t bother me but clearly this is a sacrilege in Belgium. The owner of the hostel (Hostel Uppelink by the way, which is an amazing place) nearly didn’t sell me the beer, just because the correct glasses were in the dishwasher at the time.

Another example of this strange obsession with glassware happened at a bar in Ghent called Dulle Griet (which is presumably named after the cannon of the same name that has a soft toy stuffed inside). The bar had a sign outside advertising a beer served in an oversized Kwak glass. When the waiter came to take our orders, I pointed to another customer who was drinking out of one of these abominations and said in my best Sleepless in Seattle moment, “I’ll have what he’s having”. The waiter smiled and replied, “Ok, and as a deposit, I will take your shoe”.

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Seriously why is there a soft toy in there? Could somebody please tell me?

The waiter’s reply confused me – I have never been asked to remove a shoe in a bar before – So I asked “My shoe? Why do you want my shoe?”. The waiter replied casually, as if he had made a perfectly reasonable request “So you don’t run away with the glass”.

I gave the waiter my shoe who then placed it gently onto a serving tray and carried it delicately away. I then looked around the room and noticed that hardly anyone in the bar was wearing two shoes. It really was something to behold, a room full of people missing a shoe with huge smiles on their faces. The shoe thing really is a genius idea, who is going to steal a glass if it means having to walk around in a sock all day? Not me, especially since it was the middle of winter at the time.

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The cost is one shoe apparently

The people

There are a lot of things that makes Belgium such a fun place, but the main thing really has to be the people. I’m not trying to suck up, they are (generally) really nice people and they are also just damn hilarious. For example, in my last post I copped a lot of flak for not getting my facts straight. I’m prepared to own this but it seems that not even the Belgians can agree on what the “facts” are.  Some commenters even got into an argument about whether or not Antwerp was the capital of Flanders. Come on guys, if you don’t even know what the capital is, how the hell is anybody else supposed to work it out?

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Maybe it’s the cat’s fault

Concluding comments

A lot of people accused me of cherry picking ‘facts’ to make Belgium look silly and that you could do this with any country. I promise you that this is not the case. Belgium is just one of those places that is full of surprises – and it’s just plain strange. Belgium is like that kid at school who used to sit at the back of the class and eat glue. You couldn’t stop him from doing it, you just had to sit there and watch as he went for another bite.

Enough of being an arsehole, I do really love Belgium, even though I am just a silly Australian. But before I finish I have one parting comment: Gotye, who is everybody’s favourite Belgian musician, is actually an Aussie. So suck on that!

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Or maybe this is everyone’s favourite Belgian musician

105 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Kyliebling / Apr 19 2013 11:25 am

    This puts a nice end to the whole polemic that kinda spun out of control. Kudos!🙂 And feel free to come visit Belgium again, i promise, no one will hunt you down :p But maybe steer clear of Antwerp, there’s a few douchenozzles there who really think their city is the capital of Flanders and refer to all its surroundings as ‘the parking lot’😉
    I kid of course, come visit, go to Antwerp and go with Christ (or whomever :p).
    Peace.

    • Esn / Apr 19 2013 11:37 am

      I think it was your rant and bashing that started the whole thing. You were seriously pissed off over nothing much important. I still think it was a brill article and it lured all the oversensitive Belgians from under the rocks, shouting and screaming bloody murder. Just prooving his point and many more things about the psyche of the belgians. You just dont take critisism very well. You are suffering from the Calimero-syndrom: you think everybody is out to get you just because you feel small and unimportant. And it prooved that even the Belgians dont know them selves very well, because I read many untrue things in the comments of the ranting Belgians.

      Your country is a mess. Instead of being angry with the person who points it out, you should be upset with your politicians for doing such a bad job.

      If a similar article would be written about germany, most germans would say: Damn you’re right, we are not happy with the way things are going either.

      • spoon / Apr 19 2013 12:09 pm

        So basically you’re complaining and whining about complaining and whining. Most excellent way to make a point, Esn! And yes, I’m sure if someone shat on Germany, Germans wouldn’t mind AT ALL. Historically, that’s what Germans are known for, right? Taking things lying down? No sir, no nationalistic pride there!

        You think Belgium’s a mess? I think your effing post is a mess. If you want to criticize, maybe first try spelling ‘criticism’ correctly, hm?

        Unless of course you were trolling, in which case: well played.

        • Eli / May 30 2013 4:45 am

          Difference: Germany (UK, NL, Luxemburg, Scandinacian countries, you name it..) rule. Belgium sucks. Sorry dude. Yes I live there, yes I have the full right to say it.

      • Kyliebling / Apr 19 2013 12:43 pm

        Waw, ok. First off, you don’t get to decide whether or not i got pissed over ‘nothing much important’. I listed the things that bugged me about the article because the information in there was just wrong and therefore not the right basis for a satirical piece. Had you read my ‘rant’ thouroughly, you might have picked up on that. That’s why the whole thing ended up being not funny and at times plain offensive (in my opinion at least).
        Second, I think Belgians are very capable of dealing with criticism, but that’s just the thing : the article in question was not criticism in the strict sense of the word, it was a (failed) attempt at satire.
        Third, you are the first person here to write that Belgium is a mess. Great, that’s very helpful to the discussion at hand. I’ll pass your notes and the original article along to the Belgian politians and tell them they should put an immediate ban on mayonnaise, put a stop to those damn monks brewing our beer and remove Elio DiRupo from office without further ado! (these were the points you took to be criticism from the author..right?). Because as the Germans would apparently say – in line with their long history of tolerance – ‘Damn, you’re right! We are not happy with all these cows shitting all over the place and making people rich and what not! RAH RAH RAH.. (Sigh…).
        NO, Belgians don’t think the whole world is out to get them, it’s just no fun getting called out for the wrong reasons.
        And lastly, since you reckon i am the root of all evil since i supposedly incited the angry Belgian internetmasses, you might wanna re-read the comments and notice that there was one guy who commented – before I even wrote a single word, mind you – that ‘frankly, the dude should die’ (or sth equally bad). When i commented, i at least tried to explain WHY i was ticked off, and unless my eyes deceive me, i just read that the guy who wrote this acknowledged that his source material may not have been the most reliable of sorts.
        So please, get off your high horse and stop trying to insult me – without the intension of it being a joke…

      • Esn / Apr 19 2013 3:32 pm

        Spoon: it is very easy stupid and lame to refer to the war. I think the germans really learned their lesson and they are now in fact very flexible and accomdating people who accept criticism far more easier than Belgians do. Your image of germany (with the exeption of bavaria a part most germans would love to sink off them selves) is very outdated and reflects probably the sentiments of your grandparents, rather than your own experiences or any recent knowledge. Between 2000 and 2010 I have spent about 6 years in Berlin and Hamburg, on and off. Really good experience.

        Kyliebling: Why are you taking everything so personal? I am not trying to insult you. I am merely expressing my opinion based on on my many many bad experiences in your country. You are the one throwing curse words around and calling me names. This should not provoke you so much unless you recognise some of the things I write.

        And yes I know you were not the first to respond, but the person before you , I did not take that seriously, I thouht that only an idiot would write that. Not worth responding to. I thought you might be a rational and sane person, but the way you are going on just proved me wrong.

        And yess I am not trying to be funny. There is nothing funny about the racism, exclusion, abuse I met in Belgium. And since you do not display any sense of humour I have no intention of telling a joke. You will probably think it is an insult again. That seems to be your default modus.

        By the way have you been driving around in your country lately? The roads, I just came from Spa area……. there is no way to say anything nice about that.

        • boo bee / Jul 22 2014 6:57 am

          SA-TU (amen) TO THAT!very realistic exposure and kept very, very polite ,if I might say!

      • Esn / Apr 19 2013 7:05 pm

        when people start critisising your spelling, you know they are running out of real arguments and just want to attack you.

      • Michiel / Apr 25 2013 8:40 am

        Belgium is a mess? Do you live here? where are you from? I live in Belgium and I think there’s not much too complain about compared to a lot of other nation in the world. Many may find this country stupid and insignificant. And I don’t even know what “the belgian identity” is.. But that weirdness is what makes Belgium so special🙂

        • J.J / Oct 17 2013 12:54 am

          Exactly – Belgium is unique in it’s identity of … well, not really having one :- )

          Who needs national identity when you’ve got an Italian with a bow-tie for prime minister? I mean, seriously, it doesn’t get more hip than that :- D

      • Dorien / Apr 29 2013 5:55 am

        You’re pretty fast in drawing conclusions there. A lot of them don’t even make sense to me. The things you say do not prove anything about the belgian ‘psyche’. Please consider that not all of belgium has reacted to this last article and that people who are offended by it are more likely to react to it. So in my opinion you can’t conclude belgium has a callimero complex, or that belgians can’t take a joke and certainly not that belgians are racist and abusive. In fact, belgium is the least nationalistic country that i know of. Ever seen a belgian flag hanging anywhere but on city halls? I think not. Ever asked a belgian what he or she thinks about our roads? Probably not, because then you would know anyone here would agree they are shitty… Because they are. Did you know our prime minister is gay AND from italian origin? You think a racist and abusive country would choose a gay imigrant as a prime minister? Those are some serious and very untrue accusations you are making.
        So Belgians are generally not really proud of their country, although it has a very very rich history and although there are many reasons to be proud of it. What they are proud of is their cities- or the general regions they’re from. Most people speak their dialects really proudly. This is the reason why there was this whole discussion about the capital of flanders. People know it is not antwerp. They just don’t agree with the fact that it s not, because they’re proud of their city. Wich brings me to the most characteristic aspect of the belgians: the way of saying things. Belgians are so cynical and sarcastic that it becomes dificult for outsiders to know when it’s a joke and when it’s not. I like to think that there s a sarcastic triangle in europe and belgium, france and the UK are the countries that are in it. Sorry about the rant. I just felt the need to explain some stuff that clearly have been misinterpreted.

  2. Pieter / Apr 19 2013 11:43 am

    People in the UK actually like their beers warm and not fizzy at all :p

    • neiltheseal85 / Apr 19 2013 11:46 am

      Very true! That was a mistake on my part.

      • Pieter / Apr 19 2013 12:50 pm

        Other than that, loved both articles🙂

        A Belgian. Proud of who I am and what I do, not so much of my country. And your first article nailed the overall feeling…

      • Pieter / Apr 19 2013 12:51 pm

        Who is Gotye, by the way? :p

        • neiltheseal85 / Apr 19 2013 12:53 pm

          Haha very funny

        • Henri / Apr 23 2013 12:28 am

          he’s somebody i used to know

      • Pieter / Apr 19 2013 1:16 pm

        I actually really don’t know, although I proud myself in my musical knowledge.🙂

      • neiltheseal85 / Apr 19 2013 2:09 pm

        This is Gotye, I’m sure you know the song, it was HUGE last year

      • Pieter / Apr 19 2013 2:18 pm

        I usually manage to avoid popular music very well. Do we Belgians really like this stuff?

      • neiltheseal85 / Apr 19 2013 2:20 pm

        It’s not just Belgium, that song was huge. Everyone loved that song (countries, not people).

  3. julie / Apr 19 2013 12:03 pm

    Hey Gotye isn’t only aussie he’s partly Aussie and Partly Belgian as he is the nephew a famous flemish man. About Antwerp being the capitol of the flanders or not, it’s a bit of a clasical joke Antwerp people often say that antwerp is the city and all the surounding places are parkinglots. that’s just a joke not a real fight or discussion. However maybe for some people it is. And above all i am a belgian and i’m proud to be! belgium may seem like a funny country but if you say nobody likes living here then why do we have so many foreign people come to live here? People from germany the netherlands spain, turkey, marocco and so on…. that can only mean there are lots of people who adore our little country! and if you tell us we’re strange funny or silly it’s only natural we become mad, we don’t say bad things about your country do we?! and at least the atomium isn’t just a weird thing of baals and sticks it’s representing the atomic structure of iron and was build for Expo ’58

    • neiltheseal85 / Apr 19 2013 2:11 pm

      Gotye is an Aussie. Actually he’s from where I am from. I knew him before he was famous (but I’m sure he has no idea who I am) he lives about 2km from my house.

      • Louis87 / Apr 19 2013 3:52 pm

        Gotye
        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        Wouter “Wally” De Backer (born 21 May 1980), also known professionally by his stage name Gotye (pronounced /ˈɡɔːti.eɪ/, or goh-tee-YAY), is a Belgian-Australian[2] multi-instrumental musician and singer-songwriter. The name “Gotye” is derived from “Gauthier”, the French equivalent of “Walter” or “Wouter”.
        Gotye is bilingual, speaking both Dutch and English,[8] and also speaks some Japanese,[9] which he had studied at University.[10]
        Born in Bruges, Belgium, in 1980, De Backer immigrated to Australia with his family.

        And to answer your question about Dulle Griet, it’s very simple: a couple of years ago when they last painted the cannon, they also placed the plastic plate because too many students and drunk people (or mainly drunk students🙂 ) were crawling into the cannon or were even sleeping in it. The stuffed toy was left behind just as a joke and a reminder of those days. I’m sorry there’s no more to it…🙂

        • neiltheseal85 / Apr 19 2013 3:55 pm

          Don’t apologise. The fact that students slept in the cannon is enough to keep me going for a while.

  4. anonymous / Apr 19 2013 12:46 pm

    Hey !

    Your last post was so funny. A belgian should laugh about the problem or the weird stuff we have inside belgium. We are crazy guys:D

    Go in belgium whenever you want !

    • neiltheseal85 / Apr 19 2013 12:58 pm

      Thanks so much. I’m looking forward to my next visit🙂

      • Pieter / Apr 19 2013 2:43 pm

        Too bad I don’t have my bar anymore. It used to be in Ghent. You’d be drinking for free all night🙂

  5. Lien / Apr 19 2013 1:17 pm

    Well I must say, you look good with that oversized Kwak-glass in your hands, you should do it some more.
    Greetings,
    And if you ever come to Belgium again, I suggest you try a Garre, at café “de Garre” in the smallest street of Bruges.

    • neiltheseal85 / Apr 19 2013 1:20 pm

      Why thank you. I’ll make sure I do that on my next visit.

  6. TG / Apr 19 2013 2:07 pm

    Good jokes make people laugh. Otherwise… it’s meaningless.

  7. Florence / Apr 19 2013 3:00 pm

    So now that you’ve been to Brussels and Flandres, come to visit Wallonie. The french part of Belgium. There are many things to see there and you could may be visit some breweries😉

  8. Amber / Apr 19 2013 6:15 pm

    Loved both articles ! I laughed my ass off, I live in Belgium and I fukking love it there. Nice to read about the Dulle griet, we always go there when I’m in Ghent. And actually everything in your blog is so true. Don’t see why people are getting angry about it. I even really miss the small fucked up country, since i’m in South-Africa since a few months. Especially the beers, if you go back there , you should try ‘Bruine Achel’ moslty found in Limburg and Antwerp, outside these regions it’s pretty hard to find🙂 It’s really my favorite, can’t wait to grab one when i’m back home. Keep up the work !

    Kind regards, a dutch living in Belgium and who’s never goin’ back.

  9. Sara / Apr 19 2013 6:46 pm

    Belgium truly is the strangest country in the world! Being a Belgian myself, I don’t really know what our identity is, and that feeling is getting bigger by travelling the world. I share your thoughts about Belgium, I almost laughed my head off by reading the angry reactions from Belgians on your first topic.

    Oh, a little explanation for the ‘stuffed toy’ in the Dulle Griet:

    In fact, it is not a stuffed toy but a little monster, made of gips, filled with edible plants! (on 2:48 Aaron, the maker of those creatures, is talking about his monster in the Dulle Griet, and that nobody knows how the heck it got into the canon)

  10. Sophie / Apr 19 2013 7:23 pm

    I’m a Belgian! And love both your articles!

  11. dark / Apr 19 2013 9:03 pm

    belgium is also into psychedelic trance

  12. Dimitri / Apr 19 2013 9:50 pm

    I’m just curious why you only mentioned the shoe thingy when you bought the oversize Kwak at the Dulle Griet. That type of glass is supposed “kwak”, the sound it makes when the air gets into the bottom part and consequently shoots the beer forward. Did you get your Kwak-beer-shower?

    • neiltheseal85 / Apr 20 2013 12:03 am

      Haha yes I forgot to mention that. My face was covered in beer

  13. Wim / Apr 19 2013 10:50 pm

    I think the stuffed animal was put in there by a friend of a friend of ours, by means of a joke. There are several of these stuffed animals in Ghent.

  14. hollyjb / Apr 20 2013 12:20 am

    I tried Kwak while I was there. I liked the raspberry Hoegaarden and Troll. Also, the regular and fruit flavoured Binche beer was good. I spend my year there in Wasseiges about an hour south of Brussels so I learned French and did Belgian French things. If you haven’t seen the movie ‘Rien a declarer’ or ‘Nothing to Declare’ you should, it’s hilarious. Hilarious. I also went to a Troll brewery on my birthday and got a ……I think it’s called a Rafale – basically a sampler of Troll beers, from 5% to 13% (or 12, I can’t remember). And I got it free because it was my birthday. It came on a nifty tray and you had to drink them in a certain order. With all four glasses it was a liter in total. Pretty awesome. I loved Belgium and would go back there, especially to visit the family I lived with.

  15. boulder2 / Apr 20 2013 5:36 am

    You got me in stitches several times with your humour.
    You are right, we do hate ourselves, I ‘ve always preferred being Flemish as opposed to Belgian, and we do hate those bloody Walloons who don’t speak our language.

    Filiep, Zwevegem (near Kortrijk, Flanders, Belgium).

    • Mark Schoenaerts / Apr 14 2014 7:54 pm

      Ugh, good try at getting a cheap shot at the Walloons. Really, this is an archetypical example of our ‘infighting’, which is – thankfully – only exercised by a fifth our population which is – sadly – much too vocal.
      But yes, Belgian nationalism is really hard to find. Still, I feel more proud to call myself Belgian than Flemish.

  16. Sylvan Blark / Apr 20 2013 5:57 am

    Btw, haven’t you heard? Belgium doesn’t exist! Read al about it here: http://zapatopi.net/belgium/

  17. Véronique De Leebeeck / Apr 20 2013 1:25 pm

    From a real Belgian: I loved both your articles, you nailed it. I would never say I like to be a Belgian but I wouldn’t move to out even if someone paid me for it… I would miss the beer, the fries and the people…
    p.s. we’re still a real country…
    Greets (“saluukes!”)

  18. Nico / Apr 21 2013 10:31 am

    Haha, nice posts. Us Belgians are generally not really patriotic. It’s true, most people don’t even know the national anthem, let alone how to sing it in another language (as a native Dutch speaker I really don’t know the French version at all). Belgium is indeed a strange little country, but it’s got its awesome things as well. Random fact: Did you know Belgium has the longest single tram line in the world? We do, it’s the Belgian Coast Tram, which runs for 68 km. Something to be proud of, indeed!

    Anyway, to get our facts straight; Brussels is the capital of Flanders. Which is weird, since it’s technically not a part of Flanders. Some people probably find this confusing and therefore assume Antwerp – Flanders’ largest city – is the capital. Though I like to think most of those people are Antwerpians (or Antwerpenaren), as they tend to assume their town is the centre of the country.

    Just wanted to say that I loved your posts. Belgians are not used to attention from foreigners, as we are aware of our status as boring country. (Although we do hold the capital of the EU – how could that make us boring, right?) That’s probably why so many Belgians jumped on them like as if they were fries with mayonnaise. We kind of have the “I can insult my country, but if you do, we’ll quietly protest against you and your opinions!” attitude.

    Eendracht maakt macht!
    L’unité fait la force!
    Einigkeit macht stark!
    Strength through Unity!

  19. JayJay / Apr 23 2013 6:57 am

    Belgium, a strange country? Dude, you’re from Australia. You got more rabid dingo’s than culture over there. I rest my case🙂

    • neiltheseal85 / Apr 23 2013 7:39 am

      Congratulations, you are the first person to actually have a go at Australia. I honestly thought you would all have started that ages ago.

      • zeveroareveroare / Apr 24 2013 7:30 pm

        We rather fight amongst ourselves. After all back in the days it was a tradition to go and fight the neighbouring village for no apparent reason. It involved beer and fists.

      • J.J / Oct 17 2013 1:00 am

        too right, flippin’ Auzzies ey :- )

        Q: What do you get when you leave a Brit in the sun for too long…?
        A: An Australian.

  20. Ella / Apr 23 2013 6:13 pm

    If you love Belgium so much, you should really visit where I’m from ! West Vlaanderen ! And I’m not talking about Brugge, I’m talking about Ieper, Kortrijk and so on. You will find idyllic villages, picturesque views and a lot more ! Also, if you visit Ieper, you will find out about the World Wars. As a Belgian, I can understand why you would like my country, and I feel flattered that you wrote some articles about us. Even though u think we are strange, and we probably are, I still love being Belgian ! I would immigrate though🙂 But your articles made me laugh, it’s nice to see how strangers think about us.

  21. Cardinal Richelieu's Blancmanche / Apr 24 2013 6:38 am

    Loved your article! As a Belgian living in the Land of Guns and Burgers, foreigners’ impressions of our silly little country always interest me🙂. Truth is, though, we’re all so touchy about people not truly understanding what Belgium’s about because we’re not at all sure ourselves. Whenever I try to convey to a particularly empty-headed Americano (after correcting his initial assumption that we somehow border Romania) exactly what Belgium’s like, I often find myself tangled up in a web of paradoxes and oxymorons. We’re such a peculiar mix of Romantic, Germanic, and Anglican elements that it’s hard to describe what “Belgianness” is. Maybe that ambiguity is what makes us so freakin’ awesome. That and waffles.

  22. Anneleen / Apr 24 2013 5:04 pm

    I’m a Belgian too, and I love your article. Checking out your other posts now!

  23. zeveroareveroare / Apr 24 2013 7:28 pm

    I love this🙂
    If we’re that strange though, how can we be boring?
    We would love to see you in the capital of Flemish-Brabant and home of the largest brewer in the world: Leuven home of AB InBev.

    Once and for all: Brussels is the capital of Flanders (for now).
    Antwerp will never be, because they can’t even Dutch (Oh Trololol ;-))

  24. Isaura / Apr 25 2013 12:52 am

    Hi,

    I really loved your both reviews about Belgium. I am from Belgium (Ghent) and it is a strange country indeed. We dont take ourselfs seriously, sow why do you? You could tell, that your first review was just for laugh. Fuck the people who are 2 stuck up to read through the lines. Youre more than welcome to visit Ghent again.
    Ps: the stuffed animal is just put in recently, and I really do not know why. If you ever get the answer pls let me know.

  25. blablabla / Apr 26 2013 6:49 pm

    lovly read! i enjoyed it!
    greetings from belgium

  26. Jacob Van Artevelde / Apr 27 2013 9:36 pm

    I have read both your blog-posts on Belgium including almost every reply. Some were just plain arrogant and stupid on behave of the Belgians who were not pleased about your first blog-post. I sincerely do not know what beef they have with your blog. Ok, not everything you wrote was accurate to the fact. Like you said, some actually belief that Antwerp is the capital of Flanders and some know it is not. Do we even know it ourselves anymore? We have seven governments, believe you me not many of us even know this for sure or don’t want to know anymore. We are kinda politically tired. Not having a government for +500 days, even though one could not give a damn it has been a news fact one heard day in day out over this long period it is bound to affect you even though one is not politically involved.
    Election is coming in 2014, will we have the same trouble as last time to form a government? What is it going to be this time…

    Anyway sorry to read the narrow-minded replies on your blog, what I read between the lines even though they are not all that accurate, is a post of a young man who was or is enthusiastic about Belgium and try to put it in a funny context. What do I care if you get it wrong regarding the capital of Flanders. Since when are blogs suppose to be accurate.

    Belgium is really amazing in a good and a bad way, but overall, we cannot complain except about politics😉

    In fact taking in consideration all the countries I have travelled and worked in (’bout a quarter of the world) I modestly think that people-wise/character wise … Belgians have a lot in common with the Australians, only you guys are more laid back, less stressed. I loved the “no worries” state of mind.
    But generally, I think we get along great, not to imposing, friendly, yet a bit reserved, and once you get to know someone better it is about having fun. Enjoying life.

    (worked in Brisbane, (Surfers Paradise) and travelled to Cairns years ago, dived in the great barrier reef, whitsunday islands… great times… )

    Best Regards, From Ghent, Flanders

    • neiltheseal85 / Apr 28 2013 1:00 am

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I agree, Belgians have a lot in common with Australians: we are very relaxed and we love beer. But apparently the humour is a little different🙂. But don’t worry, I still love Belgium and i am planning my next trip there. It will take more than a few angry comments to deter me.

    • pln / May 25 2013 8:20 am

      Couldn’t agree more! Great comment!
      I had to reply, since I’m also from Ghent (makes it sound silly that I’m writing in English), and I’m leaving for Australia in September, starting with Brisbane! So I was happy to read this positive comment🙂
      ps nice username!

  27. Julie / Apr 28 2013 5:01 am

    I have to admit, people around me glanced at me very curiously when I was reading your blog. It might have something to do with me laughing out loud. I loved it! Both articles!
    If you ever pass in the neighborhood again, feel free to contact me.

  28. rd / Apr 28 2013 6:08 am

    Liked your posts, being a belgian myself (and proud of it) i must admit that Belgium is a weird place! Our government is indeed a (very) flawed system. But dispite all that, i can’t see myself living anywhere else..

    Besides over-symplifying many of belgium’s issues, well written article!

    Only got one real issue:

    “Gotye, who is everybody’s favourite Belgian musician ”

    Now that’s a mayor overstatement, i mean, its not a bad song but damn. Belgian has a lot more musical history than you give us credit for! And yeah i agree, he isn’t even a “homegrown” Belgian in the first place..

  29. a-dawg / Apr 29 2013 11:59 pm

    penis

  30. AG / May 6 2013 9:30 pm

    Gotye is borne is Belgium, so that makes him Belgian… Anyway, who cares. Your first little
    was much more funny.

  31. AG / May 6 2013 9:31 pm

    *article

  32. AG / May 6 2013 9:37 pm

    Platic Bertrand—>nice one, pretty funny

  33. Shana Vandervercruysse / May 14 2013 6:07 am

    You forgot the most awesome asset Belgium has: The music scene. It’s simply breathtaking what we have to offer. You heard of Gotye but he sucks kinda. Just a small list, look them up and be amazed:

    Django Reinhardt
    (Adolphe Sax who invented the saxophone)
    Jacques Brel
    TC Matic
    Deus <- made it to beavis and butthead!
    K's Choice
    Hoover Phonic
    Millionaire
    Triggerfinger
    Absynthe Minded
    And my personnal FAVORITE: Madensuyu. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4EtWhmUhyoM

    Whatchit!

  34. Chubby Walrus / May 15 2013 11:51 pm

    You’ve probably pushed it a little too much. I think we all got it, it’s a joke but u should think twice before saying something, people don’t have the same sense of humor. I don’t take it personnal, I have a very large sense of humour even towards myself. But after deep thinking ( you like that word ? I do….) it feeks like a friend was peeing in my back and telling me I’m sweating… And then say it was a joke, what you’ve said can be offending to some people. But I do realise we have such a weird country. The USA isn’t that bad either at this little game for instance. Yet you are still welcome in my country, but had I the chance to cross you I’d probably punch you but then again that’s all because you made me angry at first…. Then I’d probably apologise and thank you for entertaining twenty minutes of my life.
    Also nice article ! It’s well written. Peace.

  35. Aurélie W. / May 21 2013 7:54 am

    it made me really happy to see that you love Kwak.
    my granddad, Hugo Bosteels, invented this beer. ( i’m not joking). he died on August 1st 2003 and seeing you talking about it warms my heart. i miss him very much but he lives on in his beer!
    cheers!🙂

    • neiltheseal85 / May 21 2013 8:00 am

      Wow, your grandfather must have been a great guy. Kwak is one of my all time favourite beers, and the cool glass just makes it better

  36. pln / May 25 2013 8:14 am

    I love both your posts about Belgium! :):) If somebody foreign asks me were I’m from, I’ll just share your blogpost🙂
    cheers!
    from a Belgian girl that’s leaving for Australia

  37. ThatAntwerpGuy / Jun 10 2013 8:53 pm

    The thing about Flanders is: it doesn’t have a capital, since the official capital (Brussels) isn’t really located in Flanders but still is surrounded by it. And a lot of Flemish people see that in the same way as if the capital of South-Africa be located in Lesotho. And thus the people of Antwerp call Antwerp the capital since it has the most inhabitants and the port of Antwerp (and thus the biggest economy). People from Antwerp tend to be a little arrogant, I can tell, I’m one of them, but most of them joke about it and don’t really care. Belgians like to tease a lot, not only French-speaking vs Dutch-speaking vs Brussels, but also between cities and provinces, since the pronunciation of Fleming depends on where he lives.

  38. lordsofthedrinks / Jun 10 2013 11:04 pm

    It’s quite ironic they can’t take a joke since they sure play a leading part in many Dutch jokes! But damned you got a lot of replies and hits on that article… I guess I must roast some countries too!😛

  39. Middle Man / Jun 21 2013 8:00 pm

    I loved this post and all of the reactions and comments. It also reminded me of this Belgian incident which might amuse you:

    http://caughtinthemiddleman.wordpress.com/2007/03/09/planes-trains-automobiles-part-2/

  40. A Belgian / Jul 9 2013 8:36 am

    you australians suck ass

    • A Belgian / Jul 9 2013 8:38 am

      And I mean that in a nice way .. I love Australia. I have been there three times …

  41. erik verdonck / Oct 30 2013 12:21 am

    Hi. Nice stuff. Let me know when you are coming back and I will reveal some more Belgian secrets to you. Cheers!

  42. Laurien / Nov 6 2013 7:02 am

    Hey there,
    Nice blog ^^
    Eum, about the capital of Flanders? Flanders is not a country, so it doesn’t have a capital.
    But as you know: the Belgian capital is Brussels =)
    oh PS: i’m from Flanders mysef😛
    Byees

  43. Maarten / Jan 15 2014 1:30 am

    These compatriots of yours will definitely never forget Belgium (in a very positive way): http://irresponsiblelife.com/2013/02/23/tomorrowland/

  44. John Vanpamel / Jan 30 2014 3:48 am

    Hum, why you Australians have recently appointed a BELGIAN GUY as minister of finance/treassury? You must be completely mad -:)

  45. Megh :) / Mar 4 2014 10:49 am

    Hello, i’m Belgian and I’ve read your both articles, it was very funny, I laughed a lot. I’m very proud of being from Belgium because we are crazy, funny, friendly. I’ve travelled a lot during my whole life (in Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Germany, and so on) and everybody love Belgium. Okay, they know our beers and chocolates above all. They laugh from us but we laugh from us too because we are, sometimes, ridiculous. Our beers are amazing, our cities are beautiful, etc. I live in the south of Belgium, in Wallonia but I’s studying in Brussels. And I love the difference between the south and the north, between the people. I’m sure that we love each other (between the Flemish and the Wallonish (?)) but it is difficult because of politic.
    For the next time you come in Blegium, you should go to see the South, it is very green, very beautiful. There is less thing (it is normal, it is the countryside) but it is worth seing.
    So continue your articles like that, it’s very funny !!!

  46. boo bee / Jul 22 2014 6:45 am

    The best joke so far? leaving Australia for something called belgium! lmfao

  47. Monika / Oct 17 2014 9:52 am

    the more comments I read from these belgians, the more i hate them. they can’t write anything else than self-praise!… ”i’m proud to be belgian, I travelled everywhere and we have it best, we are so funny, soooo friendly, it soo nice here”…only you think so, you narrow-minded morons! as i wrote underneath the previous post, biggest EGOMANIACs on earth, who dont even realise that they are hated by the majority of the foreigners who experienced their ”wonderful” personalities.

    • Middle Man / Oct 17 2014 6:32 pm

      Now I know you’re probably a bit down due to lack of work since Friends finished Monika, but you are in danger of morphing into Jeremy Clarkson here (which is no bad thing in my book). Have you had a bad experience with a waffle this morning?

      Look, they aren’t all bad……Tin Tin, Audrey Hepburn and the saxophone – cue Baker Street….

    • steve / Nov 23 2014 8:32 am

      here here! i like u already! they are good at dishin criticism out but not good at recieving it,live & let live, live your own lives beljis & stop begrudging & judging others, highest suicide rates & use of sleeping tablets & antidepressants too!

    • IDontGiveADamn / Jul 24 2015 1:25 am

      If someone insulted your country, how would you react? Belgians indeed have a lot of stress and we have the highest suicide rates. But that’s because we’re not flawless. Nobody is. But please don’t strereotype us as people who are obnoxious and egomaniacs. I don’t know where you are from, but if you say something like that, get your facts straight: most Belgians (people from Flanders mostly) hate their country. People who comment that Belgium is such an amazing country, are the ones that love it soooooo much. It makes me want to puke too to be honest. we have few things to be proud of and therefor we are too proud of them. so love it or hate it but if you want lots of rain, unfriendly people, lots and lots of complaints and very weird habbits; feel free to come to Belgium. But keep in mind that we live here and even if you come to visit it, you don’t see what it’s really like. Our country is fucked up but we do our best to make the best of it. So don’t be angry if someone is rude to you, we are only people.

      • steve / May 13 2016 8:49 pm

        ive lived here since 1990, some people are a lot easier to insult than others,personally i feel theres a strange bad vibe amongst the general public, drive down to holland & its a totally different vibe, ppl spontaneously greet u & smile & are relaxed, here ppl look at u strange & there always seems to be an awkward feeling/vibe,& they would rather point out to u that ur doing something wrong or breaking some rule than say hello! i used to work in a meat factory here ,i was stood around a table cutting up meat & the only time anyone spoke was to criticise or to say tht u were aan’t profiteren because it was yr turn to empty a container or something! or when someone went to the toilet ,ppl wud suddenly start bitching abt them behind their backs, next to us was a table with dutch ppl, they were chatting & making jokes allday & the vibe was totally different

    • belgium1001 / May 12 2016 5:29 am

      that’s not true i’m Belgian and yes i am proud to be Belgian but aren’t you proud to be from your country? nonetheless my country does have a lot of flaws but we all do so get over it

  48. Dave / Oct 28 2014 1:12 am

    Belgium is a shit hole.

  49. erik verdonck / Oct 28 2014 2:13 am

    You might also call Belgium a complex country. If you don’t grasp it in a minute like a big fat burger, it does not mean it is irrelevant. Just take your time and you will discover more than a handful of clichés. Or is that asking too much?

  50. Jason / Mar 26 2015 9:03 pm

    I lived near Antwerp for 5 years. I found the people xenophobic, rude, two-faced, rule obsessed, self obsessed, ugly and arrogant.

    • steve / May 13 2016 8:51 pm

      where did u live mate? & why were u there? many expats come to the same conclusions!

  51. Kat You / Apr 9 2015 4:43 pm

    Exactly. Boring country, boring and insociable people. They stay so much time inside their houses because they cant even stand each other. Their regions cant even stand each other! What a fucked up country, thanks God I finally left! We the people coming fron other countries get along each other, and Belgians instead group themselves like a fucking cavemen tribe. Lame.

  52. Justine / Jun 2 2015 6:12 am

    Il laughed so hard at both your post😄
    I’m from Belgium, from Liège, a city known for many things, like its alcohol “Pecket” made in many many flavours (Chocolate, Vanilla, Lemon, Cactus, etc.), there is even a special “house” called “La maison du Pecket” (The Pecket’s house), it’s also known for its nightlife in the Carré (= Square in English), and for our accent and special language too (it’s French with sometimes a bit of Walloon (Old French) mixed in it) : I’ve studied in Brussels for 1 year and everyone I talked to could say where I was coming from😄

  53. erik verdonck / Jun 2 2015 2:43 pm

    Different shades of grey. It takes a life time to understand our country. Not an easy task for a simple soul. But at least some stuff to write or talk about. Cheers! http://www.beertourism.com

  54. IDontGiveADamn / Jul 24 2015 1:14 am

    I’m just gonna get it straight for once. Flanders is divided in 5 provinces. Every province has its own capital city. Flanders itself does not have a capital. For example: Antwerp (the city) is the capital of Antwerp (the province). I know, it’s difficult. But to take another example; Ghent is the capital of Eastern Flanders and so on. So no, Flanders has no capital. And yes we eat fries with mayonaise but some of us also like them with ketchup. I must say that I’m not always proud to be belgian but if someone insults your country, wouldn’t you be defending it too? After all, you are born in the country and in some way you must love it. Belgium and it’s people are twisted, weird and maybe rude and obnoxious but that’s just a stereotype. We are just people. Do you think all Americans are fat and love burgers? Do you think all Scottisch people are greedy? Do you think all Australians are lazy or stupid? No, and maybe some Belgians are rude and strange but don’t stereotype us as such. I’m not a proud Belgian but I do love my country.

  55. David Lockwood / Aug 17 2015 8:00 am

    Nice comeback: Before I went to Belgium I was under the impression it would be boring and kinda useless, but I was wrong – it was a beautiful country! Ostend, Brugge, Brussel, Ghent and Mons are awesome!

  56. The stupid belgian / Oct 14 2015 8:20 am

    Yes belgians are stupid and blablabla, like to laugh about themself,…

    If its all you understand and you remember about Belgium then don’t come back (or come back with an other spirit) because you didn’t understand anything.
    We are not a big nation (still first in fifa world rank), but we speak a lot of languages, english native speakers generally not. We didn’t kill anybody to pretend having a country, like aborigenes or Australian (real native). Its funny because the memory I have from Australia is a racist not welcoming country extremely nationalist. How can you be nationalist and racist if you stole the country of real Australian people by massacring them ?
    I prefer the stupidity, all the stupid things you had said about us, I prefer to be open to other people, learn their languages instead of being a criminal nation ultra racist.
    You know Jacques Brel is probably the most loved belgian singer, but you probably never heard of him.

    • steve / May 13 2016 8:36 pm

      u seem really hurt & easily offended & hyper defensive,thats ego, what about the belgian congo? its no good bickering amongst eachother about past history that didnt involve us personally,this is the EARTH not seperate countries, breathe deep & have a nice day

  57. Sam / May 1 2016 9:22 am

    I enjoy a good joke, but jokes should be witty and ideally make you laugh.

    When you go insult a countries that has been the driving force beyond Europeans succeeds (ie spear heading the EU), has a rich culture of food, art and is one of the most forward thinking colourises in the world (Gay marriage, self assisted suicide etc), you come across as ignorant, arrogant and uneducated.

    Those is glass houses should throw stones. All that most people know about Australia, is Sydney Harbour, Kangroos, surfing and that we say G’day. I’m sure we seem odd to most pepole outside Australia.

    Next time maybe write something that is actually funny and stop wasting people’s time with rubbish!

    • belgium1001 / May 12 2016 5:26 am

      this person is 100% correct

  58. belgium1001 / May 12 2016 5:24 am

    I am a Belgian and you need to get your facts straight despite the confusion and the messed up government there are good people and fascinating things to see such as Dinant a place with loads of châteaus and more so go and look at everything in Belgium, then you can say what you want.
    By the way , Belgium also has a massive grave to commemorate the millions of Jew killed in the world wars. God Bless Their Souls.

  59. mentalparadoxTim / Aug 18 2016 1:09 pm

    Antwerpen can’t be the capital of Flanders, because Flanders is not a country. It’s a region. The one and only capital of Belgium is Brussels.

  60. Martin / Nov 16 2016 12:06 pm

    Lived in Belgium for 8 years, I was so depressed; brown buildings, horrid weather, nothing to do. I begged for my transfer for years. I realized why the company gives you so much vacation days and compensations… Nothing to do there jusy spend your money out of the country. Cost of living is horrendous, and most of things you really want are not avail in Belgium… not going to be shipped from France or UK.
    No shopping mall that can be named that way, few attractions, coastline is wasted by concrete buildings all the way from France to Netherlands… and anyway highway is packed up jammed from friday noon til Sunday 3am like if there was something to see there.
    Had fun visiting other countries, just been so grateful to be finally transferred to Washington.

Trackbacks

  1. Belgium is the strangest country in the world | Pet Hates
  2. “Cancer sufferer” and other strange Dutch insults | Pet Hates
  3. Belgium, the country that can’t take a joke | evavcnederlands

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