Monday, 28 January 2008

Viva La Difference

As I approach the end of my mini-jaunt around Europe, I have taken some time out to visit an internet cafe in the delightful town of Charleroi, where I am catching up on e-mails before the final leg of my journey (Madrid) tomorrow.

One might assume that a former mining town would have little to detain one after the pleasures of Valencia and Bergamo - but you'd be wrong. Maybe it's because of my own working-class up-bringing, but the place seems warm and welcoming like a wholesome Northern town, with the added bonus of dozens of varieties of Belgian beers to make the day go with a swing. Skipping from country to country as we are, it's easy to see the cultural differences that divide our nations, while at the same time re-inforcing our prejudices. The Italians were indeed smartly dressed and very dapper with it; the Spanish very stylish but in a relaxed sort of way and the Belgians - well, they're happy enough with whatever is available from the market.

Of course, the trip is proving to be a bit of a compromise. THJnr and myself are very different animals, and there's nothing like sharing a hotel room to discover a man's foibles. At least we both of us got to cast off our shoes and socks to have a good 'plodge' in the Med. Valencia's beaches may not be the prettiest in the world (vaguely reminiscent, in fact, of Seaton Carew), but the sand is fine and clean, and just feeling the sun on your face is enough to dispel thoughts of a grey English winter.

And so, like a couple of American tourists, our jaunt continues. It's Monday, so it must be Belgium.

Adios! Ciao! Au revoir!

4 comments:

70steen said...

Oh Madrid the city of adventure and long lost yearnings....
I am off there in August so I am watchful for your advice of where to watch. .... erm still no postcard!! ;-)

the food inspector said...

I sense some sort of uneasiness in your writing voice blunty man... I wonder if you and your comrade are close to confronting each other in an “English-like stand off?” (Whatever the hell that means) Do you have psychotic thoughts lying awake at night as he snores alongside the slow dripping of the faucet? Does he bossily tell you not to leave the toilet seat up and nag on you every time you have a crazy idea? Bad memories or great rebound I’d say… Next trip, South America!

Theresa H. Hall said...

I am so very pleased that you boys are having a splendid time of it. T-Shirt to sleep in please?

Bill Blunt said...

My recollections of Madrid will be coming shortly, 70steen.

And yes, food inspector - we came close to a spat or two on our journey, and I may have to reveal all in my next post...

I packed more than a t-shirt to sleep in on this trip, theresa, since I was expecting to have to share a bed with THJnr. Thankfully, I didn't have to.