lokakuuta 30, 2005

The OMY-European Tour – Day Four – 26th of October

(later entry) A relatively early start this morning. We are leaving Brussels and taking the train to Luxemburg. This is again one of the easier days program-wise. The program has been planned quite well, so we do also have plenty of free time. We have scheduled a visit to the Library of the European Court of Justice (or both courts? – didn’t pay enough attention) and then later in the evening a dinner with some representatives of the courts. I’ll get back to my impressions about both a little later, but first lets jump on the train to Luxemburg. Most of the stuff about Tuesday was also written down on the train – not too many opportunities for keeping the journal, I’m afraid – but here some direct observations – okay, edited direct observations...

Alright, touristy viewpoints. Mannekin Pis is small – prepare for a Mona-Lisa effect – the main square (Grand Place/Große Markt) of Brussels is tourist-filled even at this time of the year and decently impressive. I’d have to go to improve on art history to be able to tell you which eras and styles the buildings represented. I was disgustingly badly prepared for this week and did not check anything beforehand about the history of any of the cities we visited. There were also no guided tours so history-wise I know not much more about Brussels, Luxemburg or Strasbourg now than I did before. Will do better next time.

What I can say is that among the beautiful old buildings there is an awful amount of ugly new pompous offices. Quite a number of the older houses have also been left to deteriorate – in the hope, we heard, that they would eventually be of such a bad condition, that there was no sense in protecting them and the EU sources could be induced to by them with hard cash and build new buildings in their stead. All of this added to the general south-European colourfulness and did not make Brussels the tidiest of all cities. A nice city, but nowhere you absolutely have to go, since there are plenty of other cities in the world. Try Paris for example, or St. Petersburg, Stockholm or Strasbourg.

The Belgian countryside on the other hand is beautiful. We are on the train now, on our way to Luxemburg. It’s all green hills, picturesque old villages, copses of trees, stone churches and even a castle here and there. Now this is a place where one could live. Absolutely fabulous. Now, why can’t Finnish countryside be like this? I’d be away from the city so fast.

It’s not all as beautiful of course. Reach a place big enough to have a train-station and you get ugly factories and concrete buildings likes of which you’ll see the world over. Like this place Ciney for example. Nah, sorry Cineyans, you do have some beautiful greenery and stone buildings too. But it’s just so green here that I can’t stop marvelling. Nature can be so terribly relaxing in all its “verdant plendour”. I’m a little worried about the cold, white winter approaching.

Hmm, Luxemburg. The most modern hotel out of the three, near the train station. We walked quite a lot again today. Walking is possibly the best form of exercise, but it is not a bludgeonly idiotic idea to take sneakers along. Or anything comfortable to walk in. High heels can certainly be purty, but walking up and down medieval valleys is a bit of a masochistic experience. Which is why you think twice whether you will even try; and more likely than not you won’t – even if later you think you should have. Like you think that you should have woken up at six o’clock and gone for a morning walk, gone to visit all the cathedrals you did not have time to see and the art museums, should have checked what there was in the theatres and the opera... And still you never do. Why does one have to love comfort more than all the new exciting experiences... Tschk, tschk.

But anyway, the European Court of Justice. They had quite nice premises, at least from the inside, from the outside it was again one of those monstrous, big buildings. They had arranged the best welcoming committee and in other ways too had put most effort in meeting us. The library was nice but not really useful for me, because for obvious reasons they did not have much books on legal history. There would have been stuff on appeal procedure, but nothing that could be sensibly checked out in a short time.

So most of us did not stay at the library for that long and we went back to town to take a look around and wait for the dinner in the evening. Luxemburg is a beautiful town – a valley runs through it, which gives the entire place a very specific feeling, a river and a railway follow the valley, a castle is situated higher up and walls and the bastions surround the older centre. Bridges – older and more modern ones – complete the picture. A beautiful place which is worth a short re-visit.

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