Sunday, March 8, 2009

Carnival of the Blancs Moussis Laetare of Stavelot

This is an interesting parade, not to be missed. If you are in the mood for a quick vacation, this is the time - Belgium has a number of events during this time -- come over an spend a couple of days, indulge in some of the finest Beer and chocolates...

Blanc-Moussis, literally means "clad in White".The carnival mocks the fifteenth century monks, who were forbidden from celebrating the carnival after a period of excessive freedom. The name originated in a simple "disguise" consisting of a white bed-sheet and a pillow. During the carnival, People dressed in this outfit, along with a pointed carrot nosed mask.
When : From 21st March 2009 to 23 March 2009

Program :
Saturday : the procession starts from 8 PM
Sunday : At 2:00 PM, the procession leaves from Stavelot
5:30 pm - Rondo of Blancs-Moussis
8:00 pm Fireworks at Laetare
10:00 pm - Nuit Blanche of Blancs-Moussis
Monday :
3:00 pm Music Program (Folklore)
9:30 pm Prize distribution

Bruges - Belgium Tourism

Recently I came across two excellent posts about Bruges tourism. ( A brief review of the posts is included below)

In case you are coming from London, Eurostar has about 10 Trains a day (0870 186 186) from st. Pancras to Brussels midi. The journey takes around 2 Hours and the "return ticket" would cost around 59 pounds. From Brussels, there are a number of trains to Bruges ( trip takes less than an hour).

Some of the recommended hotels are :
The PAND Hotel at Pandreitje ( 18th century townhouse in the middle of bruges).
Hotel Boterhuis at St. Jakobsstraat (cheaper)

Shopping Areas :
Zuidandstraat and Steenstraat ( for apparals etc).
Katelijnestraat - pralinique de Bruges (Chocolates)

Here's the Links :

Bruges - Pubs, Concertgebouw, Shopping, Diamond Museum, Lace Center, Sint Salvators etc.

48 Hours in Bruges : Interesting article from "The Independent" newspaper, UK

Opel may close Antwerp Plant

According to an AFP report, Troubled car maker is planning to close three plants including the one in Antwerp to tide over the current crisis. 11000 employees from the three locations - Eisenach, Antwerp and Bochrum may lose their jobs. The same report also claims that politicians in Germany have some concerns regarding the 4 Billion Euro Aid requested by Opel- they believe that the aid may end up in Detroit ( Opel being a subsidiary of GM).

Opel ( Adam Opel GmbH) was formed in 1863 in Germany and was famous for Bicycles and sewing machines. It went into vehicle production in 1899-99 in association with Lutzmann. In 1929 , GM bought the company from the Opel family for 33 Million USD.

A Vintage Cabriolet (circa 1931 )

New Agreement - Fortis , BNP Paribas and Belgium

Fortis holding, SFPI/FPIM and BNP Paribas negotiated a new set of revised terms for the transaction on 6th March 2009. However, the terms require the approval of FORTIS shareholders. The major features of the revised terms are as follows :

Fortis holding will sell 25% of the shares in Fortis Insurance Belgium (FIB) to Fortis Bank for EUR 1,375. ( current valuation of FIB would be 5.5 Billion Euros).
  • The agreement will be in force until 2020 and cannot be terminated unilaterally.Fortis Holding and BNP Paribas would work together in the field of insurance transactions and Fortis would be designated as the preferred commercial partner of BNP.
  • Fortis Bank would get a representation in the Board of Directors of FIB.
  • SPV will purchase 2 Billion Euro worth of Structured Credit portfolio of Fortis Bank.. Fortis holding will doesn’t have to make the upfront payment of2.35 billion Euros ( CASHES instrument settlement)

Background :
Belgium is selling unprofitable Fortis banking operations to BNP Paribas. This was triggered by the Lehman brothers bankruptcy and problems at Fortis and Dexia SA.BNP Paribas initially agreed to acquire Fortis assets in Luxembourg and Belgium for 14.5 Billion Euros, however this proposal ran into some rough weather because of the opposition by Fortis Shareholders

Friday, March 7, 2008

Missing Supermodel - Waris Dirie - Found alive in Brussels

finally, the puzzle of the missing supermodel is solved. After two days of a massive police hunt, the Somali born Model and activist was found wandering around at the Grote Markt (the Grand Place - Historic Town Square) and claimed that she had lost her way after after leaving a Disco in the early morning. Waris Dirie, has been on the forefront of women's rights campaign, specifically against the age-old practice of female genital mutilation, practiced in many parts of Africa. Recently, another African model Katoucha Niane, who campaigned against female circumcision was found dead, floating on river Siene.

Waris Dirie, naturalized Austrian citizen was born in Somalia in 1965 . According to her memoirs, she was married off to a 61 year old man, when she was 13 and her family was given five camels in exchange. She fled to Britain and lived there illegally, until British photographer Terence Donovan put her on the 87 Pirelli Calendar.

As a United nation's Goodwill ambasaddor, she was planning to attend a conference in Brussels on the occassion of International Women's day.

Other than modelling, Dirie has written four books (Desert Dawn, Desert Children, Desert Flower and "a letter to my mother") and also had a brief role in James Bond movie - "the living daylights".

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pavilion of Happiness - what can 43000 crates of Beer get you ?

the Pavilion of happiness in bruxelas was created with over 43000 crates of beer to commemorate the 50th year anniversary of 1958 expo in Brussels. This structure is right next to the atomium.

See Stunning pictures of pavilion here.

More information and Pictures of Atomium here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Daniela Hantuchova Vs Yanina Wickmayer

Daniela Hantuchova has reached the quarter-finals of Proximus Diamond Games, after beating Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium (6-4, 6-3). the 18 year old Yanina hit seven aces and saved 10 out of 12 break points.

Yanina Wickmayer, daughter of Marc Wickmayer and Dannevoye Daniella, was born on 20th October 1989 in Lier, Belgium.

(picture : Above : Daniela Hantuchova, picture below: Yanina Wickmayer)
Yanina has played two WTA tournaments ( Record : 1-2 )

Daniela Hantuchova (pronunced as HAHN-too-Kho-vah), the leading player of WTA (Women's Tennis Association) was born on April 23, 1983 in Czechoslovakia (city : Poprad). Daniela has topped the ACE Tennis magazine's Sexiest tennis players. Daniela is the daughter of a Igor, a professor of computer science at the University of Technology in Bratislava and Marianna - a toxicologist.

(pictures : Below : Yanina Wickmayer )

Viktoria Mohacsi criticizes remarks by Berlusconi

Viktoria Mohacsi, a Roma rights advocate and Lawmaker in Brussels criticized Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had earlier called for "zero tolerance" towards Roma, Criminals and Illegal Immigrants during an election campaign. Mr. Berlusconi has made a number of similar remarks alleging that Roma Camps were breeding criminals. Viktoria Mohacsi said that it is shameful and unacceptable and these kind of statements encourage and incite hate and stigmatisation of Roma, based on their ethnic origin.

Viktoria Mohacsi was born on 1-April-1975 in Berettyoujfalu.

Background Information : On 8th April 2005, European Parliament had adopted a resolution on the situation of people of Roma Origin in Europe, on the initiative of Hungarian ALDE MEP Viktoria Mohacsi. On that occassion, Mohacsi had declared that "The adoption of such a text is a very important step. I am pleased that members of the European parliament are ready to utterly condemn every formof human rights abuses which the Roma people face. the European Parliament, must by no means forget the Romani people"

Prince Charles and Gordon Brown to Visit Brussels

Prince Charles, who will be on a two days visit to Brussels is planning a speech on Climate Change at the European Parliament and he will be visiting the Belgian Royal Family including Crown prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to meet with European commission members and President Jose Manuel Barroso at Brussels. The prince of Wales has been active in raising awareness about Climate Change and supports the proposal to cut down greeenhouse gases by 20% before the year 2020.

50th Year Birthday Gift

If your 50th birthday falls between April 17th and October 19th 2008, you will get a free ticket to visit one of Belgium's best known monument - the Atomium. ( the combined ticket price for the Pavilion of Happyness and Atomium is twelve Euros). Coinciding with the 50th anniversary celebrations, the Belgian Post office will issue a collectors edition of Postage stamps. The Royal film library of Belgium has planned a number of outdoor film shows including -
And God Created Woman” (1956) - story of a 18 year old orphan with a unsatiable sexual appetite.
"Rebel Without A Cause” (1955) -cult classic movie about rebellious teens indulging in drag racing and thuggery.
"Mon Oncle” (1958) - story of a Frenchman , who is against all sort of technology and his brother-in-law, who is addicted to gadgets.