Treasure Hunting # 3: A Belgian Blessing

Since we went to Europe last time, it’s only a small effort to visit Belgium – so here we go.
There’s quite some treasures to find here of course. You probably know the beer, the chocolate, the ancient painters (Van Eyck? Rubens?), waffles, French frites and so on. Long story short: you won’t be hungry here, nor thirsty… Which is great!

But that’s not all. With all the States drama and the Russia controversy and Syria fights, I have come to the conclusion that here in Belgium, we live a good life. As small and innocent as we are, we’re not in a fight with anyone, nor do we stop functioning when something goes wrong. We’ve had our political problems, but we didn’t shut down the entire country. If you lose your job here, you will find help. If you get ill, you will find help. Everyone pays a lot of taxes, but in return we can count on the system to keep us alive when needed. We have a relatively good climate. I mean, people here will complain – “It’s too hot!” “It’s raining all the time!” – but we barely reach extremes. In this small little country you can find both mountains (more like hills actually), the sea, and many cool cities. We have historical buildings and everything, we’ve got a history I’m quite proud of. We’ve fought in wars, and the Dutch part of Belgium fought for the right to speak Dutch, or Flemish, as you please. We got that right. Thanks to the linguistic diversity most Belgians speak at least two or three languages.

We don’t have that much to say in the world, though the European Parliament is settled in Brussels, but somehow that might just be a good thing. People don’t hate us – because honestly, what can you hate about Belgium? (Though abroad they tend to think we’re German, and Germans aren’t appreciated everywhere, so that sometimes causes some less pleasant situations.)
People don’t have guns here, there are barely shootings. Most people are atheists, so religious fanatics are rather unknown. Being gay isn’t accepted by everyone, but our prime minister is openly gay (and rocks the bow tie) – it could be a whole lot worse. Everyone can go to university because the costs are quite low. That means many students eventually give up their studies, or try many different studies, but it also means everyone gets a chance – not just the rich.

It’s good here.


On the music:
*The first song is Ne me quitte pas from Jacques Brel. It’s a song on a breakup; he begs the woman not to leave him and promises her a whole lot – a quite sad song which I like. In French, one of three official languages.
*The second song is I’ll stay here from Balthazar, a Flemish group. The title fits the text, as I actually want to stay in Belgium for the rest of my life perhaps…

Treasure Hunting # 2: To Far Far Away

With which I mean, to Europe. Dear Europeans, please don’t cringe, but I want to us take to the Eurovision Song Contest… For sure!
This is an annual contest since 1956. Since that moment this contest has produced quite some famous song, and unfortunately a whole lot of seriously ear raping songs. With every passing year, there are more and more groups who use the Eurovision tricks: starting with impressive clothes but later on undressing, a higher tone at the end of the song, dizzying backgrounds… And most often the singers just can’t sing. They just fit in the fancy clothes and know how to smile. Music? No way. Last year it seemed like every country just had the same song which they slightly adapted. Horrible, excruciating.

But. It’s not all horror. Next to the really famous songs like the Logan songs and stuff, there have been a few very good songs that didn’t win (you won’t let the good music win, right?) and that have been a bit forgotten perhaps… These songs were the ones making it worth watching. Until a few years ago, my family and I used to watch this show and it was just like a family moment you know. But since things started slacking we stopped watching it. Luckily I still have seen the shows where they had some pearls to soften the pain your ears get.
The songs I’m speaking of are in fact really good, at least I think so. They’re not just ‘good for a Eurovision song’, but actually nice, beautiful music. So I present you three Eurovision songs I have never forgotten!

Mor ve ötesi – Deli
The first video is from Turkey, 2008.

This is a rock song of which I don’t understand a single word. But the way the singer looks in the camera seriously makes me wonder what on earth he’s saying… Though it’s been a while, 2008, I have never forgotten this song. It actually made an impression for some reason… It stuck with me. The title means ‘Crazy’ but further on I’d suggest just enjoying the sounds of the beautiful Turkish language. By the way, make sure to watch not only the singer, but the entire group… They’re pretty funny at times!

Urban Symphony – Rändajad
The second video I offer you is from Estonia in 2009. 

A girl with beautiful hair, a violin, a language I once again don’t understand. A perfect combination! I have no clue of what she’s singing, I don’t even know what the title means, but that’s okay. It makes this whole song even more mysterious. It’s so cool that they use real instruments, and that the girl actually can sing! The background looking like a night sky is very beautiful as well. The atmosphere is just right, you know? Everything makes sense, and you just believe it.

Regina – Bistra Voda
Last video for today is Bosnia & Herzegovina in 2009 as well.

Perhaps the most dramatic song of these three (especially the part with the flag is slightly overacted), but one that also stuck with me. Of this song I do understand some parts! Okay, I admit I have read a translation, but when reading the real text, I really had some parts I could translate as it’s also a Slavic language. Maybe that’s why I like this song, but even then, it was one of the few I’ve never forgotten.

When listening to these songs again I have ‘found’ some other great Eurovision songs as well. There might follow a second trip to Europe…

Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think of Europe and our trip there!

A smile a day

Today, I found this great blog (I don’t know it it’s still alive), called Made Me Smile, and the following picture is one I stole from there. It made me smile.

Find your country.