But being here has given me time to see how a genuine city - as opposed to an overblown village like Dublin, surrounded by a vast swathe of housing estates - should be.
Brussels is relatively clean, has a good transport system (see pic above, with metro trains arriving every four-or-so minutes).
It is also interesting to observe a truly bi-lingual city/country. Belgium - composed of two mutually distrustful linguistic groups, the Flems and the Walloons - came about because... you can wiki it if you are really interested... I can't be arsed.
Anyway. Belgium's bi-lingualism is very real (it is officially tri-lingual, including the German-speaking bits to the east). Ireland's official bi-lingualism, as opposed to its true bi-lingual communities who speak our English along with Polish, Latvian, Cantonese or otherwise, is a State-sponsored sham by contrast.
Funny then, when you are on a metro train in Brussels, one thing that is immediately noticeable is the unobtrusive nature of the recorded announcements. "Vandervelde", "Josephine Charlotte" and so on. Just enough information to let visually impaired people who step on the train know where they are going, or what station is coming up next.
In Ireland, an officially faux bi-lingual country, people are subjected to whole tracts of Gaeilge-only announcements on our commuter trains – the DART crowd would never stand for it, despite the sizeable Gaelscoil-for-educational-advantage supporting minority amongst them.
On the Maynooth line, it is possible to step on a commandeered intercity carriage and have a Gaeilge-only announcement tell you where you are going. It is quite funny to watch the consternation of tourists who must disembark at Broombridge Station, having listened to a welter of gobbledygook since they left Connolly, only to realise that they are heading west instead of north. Welcome to Ireland. And watch out for the muggers. Next train back to Connolly - sorry, "Stáisiún Uí Chonghaile" -
There was some controversy about the inadequate nature of the announcements on Irish Rail trains there a while back. Apparently they are inaccurate much of the time, but little was said about the intrusion of Official Ireland Gaelic and its contribution to the confusion.
If you ever take the 18.10 train from Connolly to Maynooth you will find the announcements are in a language most of us do not understand. Due to the incompetence/indifference of CIE personnel the Gaelic announcements on the inter-city trains have not been abridged to take account of the shorter journey times between stations of a commuter train.
So we get interminable announcements – Gaelic first of course, thanks to the obnoxious heap of shite that is Eamon O’Cuiv and the whole parliament of genuflecting gobshites who could not stand up to him – which do not allow the vernacular to get a word in.
But this is Ireland.
If you are visually impaired, best make sure you are a Gaelic hobbyist before travelling on the Maynooth line with Ionars...Iarnord...Inroaad... Irish Rail.
Otherwise, make sure you have nothing in your pockets when you disembark at Broombridge.
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