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March 22, 2007

Filed under: culture»europe»belgium

Sweet Vindication

And the results of the Great Nutella Blind Taste Test are:

Only three people out of six guessed correctly when asked to identify American and Belgian Nutella by their country of origin. Thus proving that, in this limited sample at least, people who claim that they prefer the European version either actually prefer the American or just can't tell the difference.

Extra points go to snobs who insist that the Romanian product is way better than the Belgian, especially after failing the test.

March 17, 2007

Filed under: culture»europe»belgium

Waffle City

So: about Belgium.

The conference was a success. We got a quarter of a million hits on the site in five days, maxed out the streaming server, and had visits from the President of Liberia and the King of Belgium. Since the video stream could only handle 300 users at once, we ended up turning to audio downloads of the speeches, meaning that my writing and recordings became the main feature of the site. I hope that'll look good as I keep prospecting for jobs.

Brussels itself reminds me of the older parts of Paris, although I'm sure that's partly because they're both French-speaking (the Dutch contingent is a distinct minority). The city's style itself also reminds me of France, particularly older cities like Avignon, although a few team members who had lived there assured me that most of Brussels has been destroyed and rebuilt at least once over the years. Regardless, it's a very walkable city, with lots of cobblestone streets. I didn't get to stroll around very much of it, being busy with the conference, but I did get to see some.

This church outside of the hotel was being remodeled. I like that the scaffolding has a finished image of the church on it, almost as if someone thought they could fool passers-by.

La Grand Place at night. This is one of the big landmarks of Brussels. It's one of those city squares that's surrounded on all sides by these incredibly beautiful buildings, covered in intricate carvings.

Here's the other side of the square.

And of course, a picture of me looking jetlagged in front of the other side.

Walk past La Grand Place a little ways, as I did with a few team members, and you come to this old shopping district. Slightly farther is a famous bar that was once a landmark for the local bohemians, which shares its name with its house brew: "Sudden Death." Very encouraging.

Many of the buildings in Brussels have a very art deco feel to them, like this museum building. It used to be an insurance agency, according to a sign outside the entrance.

When we first got there, the staff were actually still putting the building together. They have a lot to do even now. Once you stepped outside of this conference room, there were missing carpets, too many doors, confusing exit signs--all the best parts of great planning.

But with that said, the conference room looked really good with 400 people inside. This picture is taken from when the heads of the development agencies first walked in, hence the photographers in the middle. The moderator, Nik Gowling, stood in the middle--a decision meant to encourage participants to talk to each other, and let him react dynamically to the proceedings.

But with all the technology there, the one thing that nobody had was a microphone stand, and I didn't pack one--I had enough trouble with security already. I had to improvise. Classy.

Future - Present - Past