I have never felt more Irish, et fière d’être irlandaise, than the past few days. The trip to Brussels on Friday was a success. I got up at 5.30am to make sure I looked somewhat presentable, and arrived at Gare du Nord at 7am to get the Thalys. It is an impressive railway system to say the least – the journey lasted 1 hour and 22 minutes et vous n’avez pas l’impression de changer de pays. Incroyable! Especially when you think it takes almost 3 hours to get from Cork to Dublin. Iarnród Eireann need to introduce a couple of TGVs to their fleet! On reaching Gare du Midi à Bruxelles, we were greeted to rain! Il drache as they say in Belgium. It was just like home; grey, cold, wet and generally miserable. A few immediate differences between Belgium and France struck me right away. Firstly there is the obvious fact that all signs are bilingual, kind of like home but in both French and what I assume is either Dutch or Flemish. There were free daily newspapers (like the Metro-Herald in Dublin or Direct Matin in Paris) in both languages at the train/metro stations. The metro is definitely not as clean as Paris and they take off a lot faster – I lost my footing a few times making me look like a typical tourist mais peu m’importe! French accents are also different in Belgium, which they are clearly going to be as it is an entirely different country, however the fact that I actually noticed is a huge deal to me! I suppose its a little like a French person distinguishing between an Irish and Northern Irish accent!
We reached the visitors centre of the European Commission and began our long day of innovation and finance related presentations. There was even information on the commission as Gaeilge. Go h-an mhaith ar fad! We were invited to lunch in Brasserie Van Maerlant, the highlight of which was a delicious chocolate mousse-icecream-cake thing: the dessert to top all desserts. I managed to sneak away from the group to meet my uncle for a quick coffee. It was great seeing him and hearing more about Brussels and the EC from someone who lives & works there. He has also convinced me to learn German as it is the most widely spoken language in Europe which many people forget. I now wish I had stayed the night, but I will definitely visit again to see more of the city and eat my weight in waffles when my day isn’t scheduled down to the last minute. I found the whole day very interesting and informative, even if some people didn’t and fell asleep at times!! I’ve decided I’d love to work for the EC at some stage.
We also got free t-shirts 🙂
Vendredi soir, après avoir trop mangé we ended up coming home and cracking open some wine. Sure why not?! This led to us transforming our living area into a dance studio, complete with floor to ceiling mirrors, and showing off our skills. Hilarity ensued as I began teaching one of my french friends some ballet, tap and to top it off, a bit of Irish dancing. Le cours de danse was captured on video and I have to say, he did very well. Cés, je suis très fière de toi, bravo!
Yesterday, in case some of you live under a rock, was the start of the Six Nations and the beginning of our grand slam journey! So in true Irish style, we found ourselves in an Irish pub called The Coolin in the 6th. It was my first experience of the so-called Irish bars in Paris and I was pleasantly surprised. It was the first pub I’d been into that actually looked like a pub! One of the first things I heard was “lads, come on, these pints are going dead!!” and I knew I was going to like it there, even if pints are €7.50 a pop! The food is so delicious que j’en mangerais tous les jours. The chips are homemade with the skins still on, need I say more? On a gagné 30-22 after a nerve-wracking second half. The Irish will be invading The Coolin again next Sunday for the Ireland-England game! ALLEZ L’IRLANDE!
I almost forgot, they even had TAYTOS!!! They ran out of cheese and onion, but we were happy out with salt & vinegar and smokey bacon. The taste of home!
After the match, we ended up having a few (!!!) people over to ours – a mixture of English, Irish and French! It was all going great until the police came and gave us an official written warning (see below!!). They just happened to be walking down the street and thought the noise levels coming from the apartment were violating le code de santé publique. Basically we were disturbing the peace of the street because our window was open and we had music on at 1.20am! The next time there are des emissions de bruit par eclats audibles de l’exterieur from this address we’ll be fined €68. I can guarantee there won’t be a next time, at least not for a while!!
One month down, two months left in Paris before I move to a different country. It’s not 100% confirmed yet, but watch this space!! Don’t forget to click on the ‘follow’ button if you want to be notified when I post and save me from spamming facebook news feeds – and merci à tous for reading!