The title says it all really, so if you don’t fancy reading, you’re free to go make a cup of tea, or whatever you do when you’re not reading me. Yesterday, I told you how I’d had a cappuccino and blueberry muffin in Liège Guillemins train station (seemingly the only place with reliable and free WiFi). A few hours later I found myself in a similar situation, but things went a little differently.
On Thursday 15th June 2017, roaming charges were abolished within the EU. And there was much rejoicing. Roaming charges were one of those things that for a long time I kind of just accepted. Living in Ireland, the rest of Europe usually felt far away enough that it seemed somehow appropriate that using my phone would be more expensive whenever I went there. But recently I drove for about 45 minutes from Belgium to the Netherlands, and suddenly it seemed entirely absurd that I had to pay a fortune (rather than nothing) for using data, just because I’d crossed a fairly arbitrary line. Why should it cost more in a different country? Was I inconveniencing the phone company in some way? Did they have to do more work to drag the data over the border and into my phone?
Une bière, s’il vous plait.
Una birra, per favore.
It’s something we might think about before going on holiday: oh, I should learn a few phrases of the local language before I go! And sometimes we do just that: maybe get a phrasebook, or peruse the little section on useful phrases in the Lonely Planet guide a few times. Or we do a quick Google the night before or at the airport because we’d completely forgotten about it until then.
And then we arrive and there a few variations on what happens: either we forget about what we’ve learned, and rely on English and hand gestures; we think about using a few phrases but are terrified and rely on English and hand gestures; or, we use a few phrases here and there. And that can go a couple of different ways. Sometimes ending in English and hand gestures. Continue reading
Do you prefer to say Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays? It seems that every year people get all het up about other people saying Happy Holidays, and spread stories of doubtful veracity about people not being allowed to say Merry Christmas to avoid offending non-Christians, all part of the grand “War on Christmas.” Which seems to be largely in people’s heads, as most examples of it tend to be exaggerated or simply not true. At worst, most cases cited as part of the “War on Christmas” seem to simply involve acknowledging Christmas alongside other ways to celebrate this time of year, like the infamous Winterval festival in Birmingham (England) in 1997. It became known as a byword for the “War on Christmas,” even though it actually involved celebrating Christmas, Diwali, and secular events like New Year’s Eve (the front cover of the brochure featured the word Christmas six times and a picture of a Christmas Tree, and the word Christmas featured on every page). Continue reading