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Old May 30th, 2012, 12:48 PM   #141
joshsam
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Regarding those pipes you saw in the Port of Oostende. Those are indeed parts of giant wind turbines. We are building a windfarm on a sandbank just before the coast. When weather is good you can see them standing in the sea. Here you can find some information about it in English: http://www.c-power.be/ They are now constructing Phase 2-3 wich consists of 48 turbines.

Those tractors you see in build up area's are used for farming. A lot of the land usage in Belgium is a total mess. Therefore you might find big industrialised agriculture companies in build up area's. Also on the outer edges of cities farming land is very mixed up with the suburban landscape due to bad spatial planning.. So you'll see these a lot. These heavy tactors are mostly used to plow fields and haul heavy loads. Therefore you might see them hauling a wide variety of cargo from construction debris to a load of sugar beets.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 03:11 PM   #142
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Those tractors you see in build up area's are used for farming. A lot of the land usage in Belgium is a total mess. Therefore you might find big industrialised agriculture companies in build up area's. Also on the outer edges of cities farming land is very mixed up with the suburban landscape due to bad spatial planning.. So you'll see these a lot. These heavy tactors are mostly used to plow fields and haul heavy loads. Therefore you might see them hauling a wide variety of cargo from construction debris to a load of sugar beets.
I finally saw them again at Charleroi at a construction site being used as dump trucks. In fact, I don't think I saw any dump trucks in Belgium (or France either) so I guess they use these instead.

Maybe they are preferred because they see them as more flexible in being able to be used in both construction and agriculture. In France they also used tractors to pull fishing boats out of the water.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 03:23 PM   #143
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Actually I see quite a lot of dump trucks too. But I live 4km from a concrete and road constructing company so that might be an explaination for me seeing them. I do think that big farming companies might rent their tractors when not needed to construction companies...

Edit: these are the ones I see elmost every day: http://www.ditzj.de/fora/buzzy/fn/D90_03722.jpg
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Old May 30th, 2012, 10:02 PM   #144
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Finally I got a picture of one of these. I had seen a number of these tractors in the city of Ghent. I totally freaked me out seeing big farm tractors going through the middle of the city. And here was one in Oostende. Only later when I saw them in Charleroi did I realize they may not be farm tractors after all.
There is no taxing on tractors and they are allowed to use 'red diesel', which is taxfree, in a way to support farmers. But because of this many building firms began to use tractors to transport their materials. Nice statistic to illustrate this: in Brussels there are 21 official farming companies while there are almost a 1000 registerd tractors.

Of course the gov't doesn't like this and has announced new regulations to stop this. See this newsarticle.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 10:24 PM   #145
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There is no taxing on tractors and they are allowed to use 'red diesel', which is taxfree, in a way to support farmers. But because of this many building firms began to use tractors to transport their materials. Nice statistic to illustrate this: in Brussels there are 21 official farming companies while there are almost a 1000 registerd tractors.

Of course the gov't doesn't like this and has announced new regulations to stop this. See this newsarticle.
Wow, thanks for this information. So in other words I was seeing a lot of tractors roaming all over cities due to some strange tax policies.
And as you'll see when I get to that part of the report in Chareloi I saw lots of tractors clearly working on a construction sight.

An example of unintended consequences.

It is amazing how much I learn from the input on this trip report. Keep it up!
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Old May 31st, 2012, 12:21 AM   #146
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Very very interesting!
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Old May 31st, 2012, 02:24 AM   #147
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BTW, for those who are able to visit Ghent you might want to check out this free boat tour of the harbor.


http://en.havengent.be/default_Freetoursbyboat.aspx
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Old May 31st, 2012, 05:58 AM   #148
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Day 1 in Lille.

It was Saturday morning and time to go to Lille. My host dropped me off at the station where I reluctantly said goodbye to Ghent but looked forward to seeing Lille.

While waiting at the St. Peters station some cargo trains rumbled by

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Sorry for the bad picture but here you can see one of the industrial towns the train passed through in Belgium. They all looked interesting.

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The Belgian dream I suppose.

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Rolling into Lille.

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Maybe I made a mistake and took a train to Leeds by mistake?

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The modern office building area.

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I found the old Lille Flanders train station to be nice.

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I was to catch a train to go to Nieppe where my CouchSurfing hosts live but I had a few minutes to spare so I peaked outside the station a bit.

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The station from the outside.

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I then took the train west to Nieppe.

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That’s the old train station, and it isn’t even open any more.

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After taking me to their home and letting me settle in a bit my hosts took me out for a drive and ultimately to see Lille.

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Turns out they live about 100 yards from the Belgian border which these days doesn’t really mean much.

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First we went to Amentierres which is an industrial town/suburb of Lille which looked interesting in its own right.

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The town hall and Belfry of Ammetierres

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I think the Belfry is kind of a Flemish thing and this part of France is sometimes referred to as Flemish France. As I would see on Sunday there were plenty examples of Flemish architecture.

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If they would drive on the left this would really look like England.

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A ground level view of the yellow plants that make for the beautiful fields. I would see many more in the days to come.

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I bet even OpenlyJane couldn’t tell if this were Liverpool or not :-)

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Looks like an old factory of some sort.

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And just when I was starting to have canal withdrawal symptoms we ran into a canal.

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This obviously moved loads between railway cars and boats. It looked abandoned but I don’t know for sure if it was.

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This may be a working class or even poor area but it sure looks very nice. I like the brickwork and the bay windows.

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A really nice bay window

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BTW, by this point you should be able to see clearly what I was talking about when I said before that somewhere between Paris and Lille I passed into northern Europe. In Paris the overwhelming color was biege and tan. Here it is a dark red and brown. The change is quite dramatic. At this point we are in Lille.

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If I remember correctly I think this was a new school.

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Ok, no joke, I was told this was social housing for low income and poor people.

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Note to self, move to France, then become poor.

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This was a local fresh food market.

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The Sebastopol Theater.

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Directly in front of the theater was a tree lined boulevard that we walked down. It had some buildings that seemed like Hasussman apartment buildings.

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We then came to a big plaza with a couple of museums and surrounded by some very nice buildings.

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Turns out this building is being turned into residences with some of those being reserved for low income people!!

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Here I will need some help from people from Lille. I believe one of the buildings here was an art museum and the other was I don’t know what. Help anyone...?

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Interesting how Lille mainly looks like a northern European city of the industrial revolution and then every once in a while hits you upside the head with a block that looks like Paris.

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As it turned out this was just a small sample of the riches Lille had to offer. Bet the rest of Day 1 in Lille is for the next post...

Last edited by 600West218; May 31st, 2012 at 06:05 AM.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 11:19 AM   #149
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Great pictures of Lille! It's an interesting and a quite nice city. Those differend building styles, red brick vs the sand coloured buildings is also what you can find in Brussels, mostly build in the Leopold era (because that man wanted a city in Belgium that looked like Paris)

I noticed you where in Komen/Comines. That area was heavely disputed in the language war between French and Dutch language. Also the language in 'French Flanders' used to be Flemish at one time. Therefore all the towns and cities also have a Flemish name and some only have a Flemish name and no Frech one.

In Flanders we call Lille, Rijsel and Roubaix, Robiaas and Tourcoing, Toerkonje (the other two cities wich form one metro area with Lille.)

I can't really help you with the buildings but that social housing does look very nice.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 11:26 AM   #150
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That building is the Prefecture of the department (Nord). People go there for administrative purposes, e.g. to renew their ID cards or vehicle-related documents. There is a Prefecture for each department of France.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 12:06 PM   #151
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another interesting thing to note is that the Lille Flandres station (where you arrived) used to be the Gare du Nord in Paris, but was moved over to Lille by train when the new Gare du Nord (current one) was being built.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 03:52 PM   #152
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another interesting thing to note is that the Lille Flandres station (where you arrived) used to be the Gare du Nord in Paris, but was moved over to Lille by train when the new Gare du Nord (current one) was being built.
Lille got the better end of that deal I think.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 04:27 PM   #153
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Interesting pictures of Lille. That city has a very schizophrenic identity by being a more or a less typical Flemish city. But at the same time it's desperate to be a French city. Interesting mix though.

Flemish Flanders looks almost exactly like the 'real' Flanders. The only difference that I notice is (despite the fact that the main language of the citizens nowadays is French) is that it looks more authentic. When crossing the border it's like going back 30 years in time. Much less ugly modern buildings (like apartment blocks) in French Flanders than in Belgian Flanders. And I really like that. French Flanders is what the real Flanders should have looked like.

BTW: I think it's true that 19th and 20th century workman's houses in lot's of previously industrialised cities like Lille, Ghent, Charleroi, Seraing, La Louvière and many English cities look pretty much the same. But I wouldn't call the average architecture in those countries similar. Especially the villages are very different in Flanders (including French Flanders), Wallonia (maybe except Hainaut which also looks pretty much like Flanders with lots of red brick architecture), France, Germany, Holland and England. When you were in Ghent you should have crossed the Dutch border to IJzendijke or Sluis border to see the radical difference in architecture.

Last edited by De Klauw; May 31st, 2012 at 04:53 PM.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 04:43 PM   #154
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A ground level view of the yellow plants that make for the beautiful fields. I would see many more in the days to come.
These are rapeseeds... a lot of them in northern parts of Europe... they are harvested and made into rapeseed/canola oil
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Old May 31st, 2012, 04:55 PM   #155
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Quote:
Originally Posted by De Klauw View Post

BTW: I think it's true that 19th and 20th century workman's houses in lot's of previously industrialised cities like Lille, Ghent, Charleroi, Seraing, La Louvière and many English cities look pretty much the same. But I wouldn't call the average architecture in those countries similar. Especially the villages are very different in Flanders (including French Flanders), Wallonia (maybe except Hainaut which also looks pretty much like Flanders with lots of red brick architecture), France, Germany, Holland and England. When you were in Ghent you should have crossed the Dutch border to IJzendijke or Sluis border to see the radical difference in architecture.
There really is no such thing as a "real" and a "fake" regional architecture, just different buildings built at different times. Those 1840-1940 red bricks row houses that were built in northern France, England, Belgium and other areas of the region became as real as supposadly authentic 18th century village architecture.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 05:54 PM   #156
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One thing I liked about Lille - which you will see more in the next batch of photos - is that it seemed to have more history. There were lots of really old buildings and narrow streets, stuff that dated from the Renesiance. This seemed different from Paris much of which was knocked down in the 1800s to be rebuilt by Hausman.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 06:15 PM   #157
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Thank you for this wonderful photo tour! I love that you give a really representative and detailed portrait of the cities you visited and don´t only show a few tourist sights. You really get a precise picture of everyday life in the areas you visited. Looking forward for the rest of your pictures!
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Old May 31st, 2012, 06:17 PM   #158
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There really is no such thing as a "real" and a "fake" regional architecture, just different buildings built at different times. Those 1840-1940 red bricks row houses that were built in northern France, England, Belgium and other areas of the region became as real as supposadly authentic 18th century village architecture.
Haven't said anything like that. I only said 'real Flanders'. By that I meant Belgian Flanders. What is usually meant by the name 'Flanders' (not that French Flanders is not 'real', off course). And I also said that the average architecture in those countries, especially in the villages, is more divers than the workman's houses in some cities (which indeed are similar in all previously industrialised cities). Like for instance, in the Ardennes most buildings in the villages are erected in grey stone, not red brick.

Quote:
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One thing I liked about Lille - which you will see more in the next batch of photos - is that it seemed to have more history. There were lots of really old buildings and narrow streets, stuff that dated from the Renesiance. This seemed different from Paris much of which was knocked down in the 1800s to be rebuilt by Hausman.
Off course. Most of old Paris is destroyed in the 19th century. Too bad, but in this case the replacement is also beautiful. And Paris has more a face of its own because of the distinct Haussmann buildings. So I do not grieve about Haussmann's renovation project. From an urbanistic view it's very interesting I think.

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Old May 31st, 2012, 06:41 PM   #159
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One thing I liked about Lille - which you will see more in the next batch of photos - is that it seemed to have more history. There were lots of really old buildings and narrow streets, stuff that dated from the Renesiance. This seemed different from Paris much of which was knocked down in the 1800s to be rebuilt by Hausman.
Personally, Lille always made me a better impression than Paris.

There are more details, more diversity (a mix of Hausmannian and Flemish architecture with a big British and Belgian influence) in Lille than Paris... of course the city is much smaller but very underrated.

I love the unique Hausmannian/Flemish mix of Lille. Hausmann is all about grandeur, Flemish is all about details, and they mixed both.


PS: Don't tell a Parisian that Lille has more history :p they are convinced that "provinciaux" are lesser people.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 06:57 PM   #160
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Quote:
PS: Don't tell a Parisian that Lille has more history :p they are convinced that "provinciaux" are lesser people.
"The North" has a bad reputation in most of France anyway. (unfairly off course). Most French people depict The North as some kind of Russia with very bad and cold weather and grey buildings everywhere.
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