Following on from my trip to Lincoln, the next part of my week involved hopping onto the Eastern train down to Kings Cross – making the hop to the Chunnel and on to Brussels to attend various meetings hosted by ESBA (the European Small Business Alliance).
Of course, when I moved to THREE for mobile, it never occurred to me to check, with such an excellent deal in the UK, what their charges for overseas might be – and so you can imagine, surfing the web as we came up for air in Europe, I was rather dismayed by a constant stream of text messages “you have just spent £5 on data”…. “You have just spent £10 on data” etc.. Before switching the phone off in disgust, I did happen to notice on one of my navigation programs, the speed we were doing. 184mph. Very nice.
As I was a guest of our Chairman, I travelled to Brussels with him – arriving there far too late to go out and enjoy the evening and so we headed off to our respective apartments – Brussels is very expensive, as you can imagine it would be and so we’d booked into a place called THON apartments, not the Ritz but self-catering apartments with a decent living and dining area etc. Having been ripped on the way in for broadband we then discovered the apartments also charged for WIFI… so very different to my normal experience and the only downside of moving away from Vodafone who do a flat-rate £9 a day for using their dongles in Europe. It was a warm evening and so I settled down for the night, but not before noticing a fine example of European wiring standards in action at the apartment which was otherwise very well maintained…
Brussels of course is just one of the places where the European Parliament meet to change our lives for better or worse but I have to say that it is very impressive indeed and you do get a definite impression of a place where important things happen.
Our meetings on Thursday took place in the Radisson Blu hotel just up from the parliament area but that didn’t stop me getting up first thing in the morning armed with camera to make sure I got my fair share of pictures. The area really is stunning and indeed Brussels generally has some amazing architecture both old and new.
Breakfast of course consisted of croissants and powerful coffee and then the rest of the day was pretty much occupied with meetings, listening to and occasionally interacting with the various speakers. being relatively new to this I spend most of my time listening rather than talking.
The strangest thing happened… at breakfast we were talking about an old pal of mine and in jest I said I would not be surprised if he was here. We walked into the Radisson and sure enough there he was standing in the foyer – I could not believe my eyes. Turns out he has access to offices just down the road and so outside of the meetings we spent some time catching up – which gave me even more excuses to take some pictures.
At this point I’ll stop talking and let the pictures speak for themselves for a while… feel free to click on the images to see larger versions, especially the ones directly below…
The image you see below on the left is an actual part of the Berlin wall, as you can see, not that high really but with armed guards not too far away on the Eastern side, clearly there were effective.
There is such a mix of stuff here, from amazing old architecture to super modern buildings that in themselves are works of art. Loved the place, though it’s not my first time there.
The second morning was taken up with an ESBA meeting which I attended as a guest. ESBA is a pan-European small business organisation – you can find out anything you need to know from their website- and that, basically was it. A short bus-ride back to the airport and a matter of a couple of hours later I was back in rainy Newcastle, all the better for the experience and the opportunity to get a tiny insight into how European bureaucrats work.
There are of course LOTS more photos and of higher quality – I’ve put the lot onto my Google Albums site and I recommend a trip here. The album also covers my trip to Lincolnshire (previous blog).