22 Feb 2009

Brussels and the FOSDEM conference

Posted by walterheck

After spending a quick night in Arlon, I continued on my way to Brussels. I had a few good rides and friendly people. I helped the last guy by going with him to the IKEA and in return he dropped me off at the university where the conference was going to be held that I was coming to Brussels for.

The conference was the FOSDEM conference, a conference on open source software. This just meant there were 3000 nerds coming together to talk about nerd stuff :)

My first host in Brussels was Ingrid, a lovely 44 year old woman. Even though I didn’t have too much time to spend with her, we got along very well.

The next day, friday, I used to walk around Brussels for a bit. Somehow i always had it in my head that Brussels was a very grey city. That is far from true as it has a very beautiful old city centre.

I had a bit of a weird day that day. Sometimes certain places give me a very intense feeling of energy. Some places can be very positive and some places can have a very negative energy. While I was walking around, I walked onto a square with a church on it. For some reason I felt the need to sit with my back against the church exactly in the center of the front of the church. I didn’t question this urge very long and just gave in. I sat there for quite a while with this very intense feeling of good energy. As usual I don’t question myself too much as to why  this happens, i just embrace the feeling. Especially when it makes me feel good.

I wandered around randomly in the small cosy old streets of the center and then realised something: Brussels is home to the atomium, which I had been wanting to see for a long time.

I figured out it was at the edge of the city so I took a subway to get there. This structure is for me personally possibly one of the most perfect structures on the planet. I love symmetry, and the atomium just oozes (?) symmetry. I walked around to see it from every possible angle to find the points from where the view to the structure is special.

After that, I went back to the city center to spend a few hours at the McDonalds since they have free wifi and nobody notices and/or gives a shit if you sit there and don’t order anything.

Then, it was time to head to the opening event of FOSDEM. It was a beer night in the delirium cafe in the middle of the city center. 1000 nerds drinking discounted special belgian beers is a whole lot of fun (if you’re a nerd, that is).

I just sat down next to some random people and started talking to them. I soon found out that my nerdness was very limited compared to some of the others present :) nevertheless we talked and drank good special belgian beers until it was time for me to head back to my host.

The next morning I packed up my stuff and headed out to the conference. I had volunteered to man the official MySQL project stand, and I didn’t know exactly what to expect. It turned out okay and the next two days were filled with excellent new business contacts and many interesting conversations and sessions.

For saturday night and sunday night I had found a different host: a couple living in the southern tip of Brussels, at the edge of a forest. Their house was wonderful and they were an amazing couple. He a guitar playing 40 something rocker, her a 30 something cello playing woman. We went out on saturday night to see some bands performing in the city center. It was free and very good! Afterwards, we went to a few bars in the center and it was very nice. They have been living in Brussels for a long time and know quite a few people in the night scene in Brussels. We went home too late and not completely sober, but very satisfied.

They owned two awesome cats, one of which slept on my bed. This is for me such an awesome bonus since I miss my own cat a lot from time to time.

On monday morning I was leaving Brussels to go back to Holland for an unscheduled visit. More about that in the next post :)

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