By Mike Jiggens
As Iâ€ˆwrite this, Iâ€ˆam less than a week away from flying to Belgium on a business trip. In my 21 years with Turf &â€ˆRecreation, I’ve made numerous business trips to all but four Canadian provinces and to 15 different U.S. states.
This will be my first business trip off the continent and will be my first time to Europe since 1965 when I returned to Canada after three years living in Germany on a military posting of my father’s when he served in the Canadian Armed Forces.
What little I know about Belgium is that many of the residents of Delhi, Ont., where I live, are of Belgian descent. I’m anxious to check out the telephone directory in my hotel room. I’m guessing the “V” section represents about 80 per cent of the entire book.
I also know the country is known for its chocolate, waffles and beer. What I didn’t realize until recently is that one of its most famous dishes is french fries with mayonnaise. That I’ll politely decline if it’s offered to me. I’d rather swig back a tall glass of orange juice after just brushing my teeth. I can’t even bring myself to eat poutine.
It’s a good thing I’ve done a little homework before getting myself packed for this trip. My electric razor, for example, won’t be making the trip with me because of an incompatability between Europe and North America for supplying the necessary voltage. Besides, my razor would never fit into the wall socket in Belgium. So it’s back to an old fashioned disposable razor and shaving cream for a few days.
I’m not sure how much time, if any, I’ll have to see the local sights or do much in the way of souvenir shopping. My itinerary looks pretty full right now, and the four or so hours of free time I have between arrival and a welcome dinner that first evening will likely be spent in bed.
There are certain loved ones who are strongly hinting Iâ€ˆbring back a souvenir or two of some significance. Coming back empty-handed could have consequences. I’m hoping I’ll have options besides the hotel gift shop, but I won’t know for sure until I get there. I may also have to forego the post-arrival nap—which would actually be my scheduled bedtime albeit several hours later than its usual time—so that I can remain in certain people’s good books. It’s either that or hope there is a sliver of free time to be found within the few days I’m there.
Thank goodness Belgium is among the participating European countries to abandon their former currency in favour of the Euro. Iâ€ˆhate having to think too much when it comes to mentally converting one country’s currency into another’s. The denominations of Euro bills are similar to our own as well as the system’s coinage. Iâ€ˆjust have to remember that one Euro is approximately $1.50 Canadian.
There will be a news story or two coming out of this trip which will be earmarked for our November/December issue. I’m just as curious as the next guy to learn what it’s going to be about.