What the kusttram is to Belgium, the Gaza marathon is to the Palestinian territories

So it turns out that, since last year, they have a marathon in the gaza strip. Even better, this is the only marathon which covers the entire coast of a state territory (much like Belgium is the only county in the world that has a tram running along it’s entire coastline). The Volkskrant article that made me aware of the existence of the gaza marathon even claims that the coastline of the gaza strip is exactly 42K long, which after some quick fact-checking turns out to be only slightly wrong. Ac…

Belgium: l’économie de la débrouillardise?

Wired has a short interview with Robert Neuwirth author of Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy which highlights some of the points made in the book (the main point being that combined the informal economy worldwide would be the second largest economy after the US). The interview hints at some fairly interesting observations such as merchant-driven product innovation and multiple layer interfaces between formal economy multinationals and their informal sales forces. Hopefu…

Louvain la neuve != zanzibar

Although the sign pictured below seems to suggest some kind of connection between a fast food store in Louvain la neuve and Zanzibar, i have so far failed to find one, which is unfortunate as this is about the most desolate place that you can imagine. Catharina has called it a post-nuclear cityscape, and the brochure of the UCL mentions that the university was ‘implanted’ here in 1972, which is exactly how the city looks. According to wikipedia this is the result of inter Belgian strife in the 1…

Old people dumping ground

After having found the children’s deposit point in lille last weekend i went on to the belgian coast to take a ride along the coast in in the kusttram (‘coast-tram’). have wanted to do this for a while as i am (a) a sucker for public transport and (b) i really like the idea of having a tram that runs along almost the entire Belgian coast (not that it is that long of a coast with in total 66km). Unlike almost everything else in begium the coast tram does even make sense. it does run every ten min…

Back from Bruxelles

I was back in bruxelles yesterday after a way to lo long time. This city is definitely my favorite city in Europe as it manages to surprise me every time i am there, even if it is only for one rainy evening spent in an restaurant waiting for the night train to berlin (of course the fact that there actually is a night train connection to berlin makes Bruxelles stand out above such mediocre places as Amsterdam!). On the way from the restaurant to the Gare de midi i came across two remarkable thing…

What the visa?

Today i soend most of my day trying to get a schengen visa for programmer/activist from cote d’ivoire and that meant i had to make lots of phone calls to cote d’ivoire and while doing that i dialed wrong numbers a couple of times. Now if you dial the wrong number locally people are usually pissed that you disturb them. not so in this case, each time i got connected with someone wrong, the people started me asking all kinds of questions about me or amsterdam or what i was wearing (sic!) and gener…