3 December 2014 - The capital of Europe, Bruxelles offers a wide array of opportunities for people that want to engage in multicultural social gatherings. This weekend’s escapade was no exception to the rule. Being invited to an international dinner at a Portuguese friend’s house on Saturday night I was intrigued by the possibility of trying plates from different culinary traditions and the prospect of finally having a beer or two after a long week.
The concept of the international dinner was simple: everyone should bring a main dish or a dessert from their respective countries as well as adequate booze to maintain a cheerful atmosphere.
To my great joy a late arrival to the party did not matter as plenty of food was still left over. In other words, my expectations for the dinner were met with great and diverse types of food ranging from Belgian quiche to Palestinian dessert delicacies.
My initial appetite was however, satisfied by the Portuguese hostess Sofia’s dish - a mix of lamb, oven potatoes and garlic. Continuing along the lines of the Mediterranean cuisine our Greek UNRIC colleague had cooked pastitsio, which consists of baked pasta, ground beef and béchamel sauce. Italian Internal Voices Graphic Editor, Laura also contributed to the Mediterranean theme with piadina, a thin Italian flatbread served mozzarella, tomatoes and ham.
Scotsman and Internal Voices Co-Editor-in-Chief Eddie prepared the traditional Scottish dish tikka masala with great success. Moreover, our Finnish Internal Voices Social Media Editor, Julia baked karelian pastries (karjalanpiirakat), which judging by the amount left after a few hours, were also quite popular.
As for myself I contributed to the dessert team with the Danish desert æblekage, which consists of apple, vanilla, whipped cream and caramelized breadcrumbs.
Luckily, the great food was also accompanied by friendly and crazy people eager to socialize. Naturally the night therefore involved into the obligatory dancing to old classics and drinking box wine. A few broken glasses and numerous cheesy songs later the neighbours had unfortunately had enough. At this point the majority of the participants were exhausted and so another great night in Bruxelles came to an end.
Jens Jæger is currently an intern at UNRIC and International Issues Editor at Internal Voices
Eager for an antidote to the obligatory Thursday night of talking shop with ambitious young Europeans emboldened by beer down at Place Lux, the Internal Voices team decided to check out Brussels Nocturnes.
Every Thursday evening until the 18th of December, a selection of Brussels museums will open their doors to the public between 17.00 and 22.00. Last week the initiative came to Schaerbeek, with museums ranging from toy-making to art and history.
A Place Lux-free Thursday should not necessarily mean a beer-free Thursday, and it was with this in mind that the team decided to visit the Schaerbeek Museum of Beer. Off of a side street in the heart of Schaerbeek, and housed in a former school, the museum offered a quaint exploration of the history and process of beer-making, as well as presenting the indomitable relationship between Belgium and its beer-making and beer-drinking culture.
Thousands of beer bottles from a variety of Belgian beers were accompanied with mannequins depicting the beer making process and a model of an old-style Belgian bar. The museum itself was something of a relic- there were none of the interactive touch-screens, audio guides or film presentations that have become a mainstay of visitor attractions in recent times.
However this was perfectly in keeping with the grassroots community tone presented by the Nocturnes initiative, which gives the opportunity for locals and visitors to discover museums out-with the grand opulent galleries and exhibitions of Mont Des Arts. It also encouraged a convivial atmosphere for a visit to the bar at the back of the museum in which the team enjoyed a few home-brewed and very cheap Schaerbeekoise beers, served by local volunteers.
At 22.30, the volunteers announced that unlike many of the visitors they were quite old and so needed to go to bed. With that a quite unique and memorable evening was over.
It's All Hallow's Eve, a time to celebrate all things spooky and a little disturbing, to give others a scare and make light of humanity's uneasy relationship with death.
Some say that Halloween originated from Pagan harvest festivals, others that it is a Christian superstition to ward off evil spirits. Here at Internal Voices, it's an excuse to explore some weird and creepy abandoned places around Europe!
If you feel like a real scare this weekend, take a trip to the macabre l'école de médecine vétérinaire in Anderlecht. The school was moved to Liège and the building abandoned, but it remains standing beside a block of flats. It can be reached by train or bus, but is not for the faint-hearted. Genuine pickled animal specimens accompany the rows of old dusty medical books that adorn the crumbling corridors.
The village of Oradour-sur-Glane in Western France was once a sleepy provincial village until visited by occupying German SS officers in 1944. The villagers were massacred, leaving behind a ghost town. After the war a settlement was built nearby, but Charles de Gaulle ordered the ruins of the old village to remain standing as a stark reminder of the horrors and destruction of war.
Further off the beaten track, but immortalised in the folklore of writer Sir Walter Scott, is the Goblin Hall of Yester Castle in East Lothian, Scotland. Built by the reclusive Norman Knight Hugo de Giffard in the thirteenth century, it is said by locals that Sir Hugo was a necromancer who summoned a band of goblins to help with the construction. Built on top of a natural fault line where two rivers converge, the site is often visited by those who believe it still holds a supernatural force.
Lastly, and perhaps best known, is the abandoned city of Pripyat near Chernobyl in Northern Ukraine. Following the disaster at the Nuclear Power Plant in the former Soviet Union, the city of nearly fifty thousand was completely evacuated in two days. The eerie sight of fully furnished buildings, a crumbling swimming pool, and rusting ferris wheel of a long forgotten playground is open to the public, although some say that years of radiation have taken its toll on the wildlife, and mutated predators lie in wait of unsuspecting tourists...
Disclaimer: Internal Voices does not confirm the safety of any of these places, therefore please do visit at your own risk and stay safe out there!
Eddie McCafferty is currently an intern at UNRIC's UK and Ireland Desk, and Editor in Chief at Internal Voices
On Sunday 26 October the United Nations is celebrating its 69th birthday by hosting an event on the Grand Place of Brussels. Staff from 26 UN Brussels based agencies and a number of partners can be met during the day from 11:00 to 17:00. You’ll be able to gather information on the UN’s work, ask questions and participate in various activities for all ages. This edition of UNDAY will have a special focus on Green Cities, showcasing how everyone integrates the fight for sustainable development and against climate change within their daily work.
Programme of the day
• Discover a unique urban garden
• Try a ‘bug’ and learn about the sustainability of Insects as food
• Take part in workshops on how to recycle papers and plastic bags. We’ll even teach you how to turn any odd piece of paper into a windmill.
• Learn about safe ovens in harsh conditions
• Share the experience of an agricultural revitalization project in Swaziland
• Test your knowledge of do’s and don’ts when biking in Brussels
• Learn how to create your own sustainable purchasing group
• Get all the info to make your own worm composting kit
• Come closer and see what a refugee tent looks like
Be sure to visit the various information stands to learn more about what the UN and their partners do.
See also the map below!