A Tall Man In A Low Land: Some Time Among the Belgians

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Belgium introduced same-sex marriage in , after the Netherlands. Euthanasia was also legalised in Among a number of other world-changing inventions, such as co-designing the World Wide Web, Imodium, inline skates and a safe contraceptive pill. Which amount to some Known as the Torengebouw in in Antwerp.

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It is still the tallest building in Antwerp today at around 96m 26 floors. When they called their province in the north of Gaul Gallia Belgica , after its previous inhabitants the Celtic and German Belgae. King Philippe of Belgium is the current monarch. Around two-thirds of all marriages in Belgium are between first-time couples, while in the remaining third at least one person has been divorced.

Belgium took the record from Iraq for the longest government formation in history when parties took days to form coalitions, plus 48 days to finalise government positions.

St. Mary's Church - Brussels, Belgium

The Kusttram travels the full 68km of Belgian coast between the French and Dutch borders, making some 68 stops from Knokke-Heist to De Panne and running every 10 minutes during summer peak hours. With around international governmental organisations, 1, non-governmental organisations and embassies employing 3, diplomats. He was also involved in the development of the Art Deco movement. Where 98 percent of the population live in urban areas and cities, also among the highest rate in the world.

Belgium is also one of the most cabled countries in the world, where some 97 percent of Belgian households receive cable TV. The almost percent-lit highway network is one of the few man-made structures seen that far at night. Our trip to Belgium starts with four of us boarding a transatlantic flight to Reykjavik, Iceland on the ever popular, Iceland Air , where we will pick up Jason and Tom and continue onto Brussels.

Once on the ground, in typical Jeremy style, he will arrive last with everyone waiting for him. Here is the route:. Here is a little cultural and gastronomic background about Belgium. This country bordering the European giants of France and Germany produces many of its own unique homegrown products.

The Belgians are quite renowned for waffles, chocolate, Audrey Hepburn, and most important to all of civilization, beer. Pepper states that his pallet has become more refined over time as he now prefers IPAs, but I feel that this is simply a result of overexposure to spicy green chili that has burned off the majority of his taste buds and along the way and unfortunately too many brain cells. Beer is and has always been a cultural staple that bonds this multilingual region.

The Trappist monks produced these beers for many reasons, but most of them for the noblest of intentions. The Trappist monks have used the production of beers to fund restoration of their monasteries or simply heal. Yes, curing the sick and saving lives with the simple ingredients of barley, water, yeast, and lots of love. As the Black Plague swept through Europe, their beer had miraculous curative powers. By providing Belgians with an alternative drink to that dirty, infested water, that may leave anyone drinking it in a state more dire than a hangover, they saved lives.

Their delectable concoction prepared with boiled water and other life-giving attributes, resulted in healthier, happier, and living countrymen. It truly can only be described as a selfless act for the betterment of humanity. On behalf of humanity, I would like to personally thank you Trappist monks. I feel confident that this beer will protect me and my buddies from any illnesses we may encounter in Southern Belgium. Arnold of the Abbey of Oudenburg near Bruges even insisted his parishioners drank beer instead of water, and became patron-saint of Belgian brewers as a result.

Trappist beers are highly regarded. There are eleven Trappist monasteries that have beers associated with their monastery. Not all of them still make their own brew in-house. Several have sold the rights to major conglomerates and receive a percentage of the profit. But the western Belgian Westvleteren is king. It is often ranked one of the top three beers in the world.

Belgium and the rest of the world

Not only is this Trappist beer excellent, the back story and the journey on how to actually acquire this unlabeled beer in brown bottles is just as enticing. Westvleteren is still produced by the monks, but in limited quantities. They produce just enough to cover the costs of running their abbey and regularly provide a list of their beers and dates that they will be made available to the general public.

Yet in order to purchase your own little brown bottle of heaven, you must call their beer hotline at least two weeks in advance providing your license plate number and the exact date you intend to buy it. Upon purchase, the buyer agrees not to resell it. It would save a lot of heart ache. Find the humor. This is my anti-"Columbine" which I am also currently reading book.

Safe to read before going to sleep. View 1 comment. Oct 03, Simon rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction. An easy enough read.

A little dated, as it's over 20 years old, but the main problem is the lack of structure. It's very scattershot, with Pearson zooming from one side of the country to the other within the same chapter and often the same day. Large parts of the country are barely touched upon, and Antwerp is left out entirely. There are plenty of info dumps, many of which are interesting, and a few half decent observations. The best humour comes from character observation; at other times the j An easy enough read. The best humour comes from character observation; at other times the jokes seem a little forced.

Mar 01, Mike A rated it liked it. This is another book that I read years ago. I live in Belgium, so want to find more books about my adopted land and read up on it. I must admit that when I read it the first time I really enjoyed it. This time it was enjoyable but not as much.

Perhaps it was because I didn't know all the places he mentioned and visited but seems I've been to most if not all of them now. It's not a big country. Pearson offers some interesting insight and the best thing about the book is that it isn't a tourist boo This is another book that I read years ago.

Pearson offers some interesting insight and the best thing about the book is that it isn't a tourist book where he hands out in Brussels and Brugge and Gent and Jun 07, Jeannie rated it liked it. The book is now a little out of date published but still has some interesting background information for those curious about Belgium e. For me it was a little too heavy on amusing anecdotes - genuinely funny but distracting from what I was really after. Apr 11, Catherine Harris rated it liked it. I enjoyed this book, it taught me a lot of things about Belgium that I didn't know and I liked the fact that the book focused on the whole of the country, not just popular areas the British have heard of.

I do feel like you have to have a little knowledge of Belgium before reading this book and I found that the book wasn't very well structured.

Quick Facts on the Great Synagogue

But I will be re-reading this book none the less. I'm not at all familiar with Pearson--I picked this up because I saw it mentioned and there aren't a whole lot of books out there about traveling in Belgium. By this is a bit dated and hit-or-miss. Pearson assumes the reader is familiar with British popular culture football teams and television personalities as well as with at-the-time current events in Belgium the Dutroux murders, which I looked up to make sure I spelled right but which I'm not going to read anything else about, be my g I'm not at all familiar with Pearson--I picked this up because I saw it mentioned and there aren't a whole lot of books out there about traveling in Belgium.

Pearson assumes the reader is familiar with British popular culture football teams and television personalities as well as with at-the-time current events in Belgium the Dutroux murders, which I looked up to make sure I spelled right but which I'm not going to read anything else about, be my guest in that regard. He's traveling in Belgium in around , the early days of the EU--and it's interesting to see it in the rear-view mirror.

And of course it's always fascinating and depressing to see how prices change over the course of almost twenty years. Pearson spends most of his time noodling around Belgium's smaller, lesser-known cities. Antwerp only gets half a page at the very end of the book, while Sint Nicolaas, for example, gets a whole section. He likes Namur the gastronomic capital of the country, if you like snails and hare and Brussels. A lot of other places depress him.

Along the way he visits various museums and monuments, muses on the WWI killing fields of Flanders and King Leopold's manic depredations of the Congo, eats multiple mattentaarten cheese curd-filled pastries, delicious and pains au chocolat, and almost falls out of a cable car.

30 facts you didn’t know about Belgium

Throughout, he maintains a jokey running patter--sometimes amusing, sometimes trying a bit too hard. There are also long digressions about football and a few other topics--maybe interesting to some, but I'm a grumpus and would have preferred more details about the places he visited.

Overall, this is an idiosyncratic travelogue with a Bryson-esque tone that may not have filled in all the blanks in my knowledge about Belgium, but at least gave me some more starting points. Dec 26, Marie De Coster rated it did not like it.


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Thus book is not funny, but it is badly written with many grammatical mistakes that a journalist should have known better. I guess this is from being a Northumbrian who currently sues dialect terms and nuances that are commonly known in the Nort East.


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The book is offensive to the Belgians being the 'stomach of Europe, calling them fat, tasteless and are inept in DIY. I live in Belgium and married to a Belgian who also finds this book very distasteful and offensive to the people that the author m Thus book is not funny, but it is badly written with many grammatical mistakes that a journalist should have known better. I live in Belgium and married to a Belgian who also finds this book very distasteful and offensive to the people that the author met in his travels.

He clearly does not understand the history of the country as he gets many historical facts wrong. He also has no idea about art, and yet he is being seen as another Englishman who calls any nudity vulgar and pornographic. Belgium has much more to offer than cycling, beer and cuisine. Pearson misses to draw attention how the Belgian people are so compromising and yet still comes out of any verbal altercations with much more than they began with. This is the heart of being Belgian and they do not see it as a weakness but a strength.

A Tall Man In A Low Land: Some Time Among the Belgians

As usual, Pearson is another English baffoon who only speaks English, Belgians are proudly known for speaking at least three languages. He is a little 'englander' with a small 'e'. If you expect to learn anything about Belgium and be entertained at the same time I would recommend this book to all Nazis who then can go ahead and burn it. Jun 28, Kenny rated it it was ok. A bit average overall. It's nearly 20, and so obviously dated. There are some good personable bit of writing, but I found it a bit strange to avoid most of the major cities and sites in Belgium for the book, instead concentrating on villages and smaller towns and things that amused him during a couple of months stay.

There are a few good jokes, and in a few places he does have passages that really do get under the skin of Belgium. But obviously not as much as, well I'd guess there would be dozen A bit average overall. But obviously not as much as, well I'd guess there would be dozens of dazed bloggers somewhere out there doing the same.