Brussels is a home to people of various cultures and nationalities. Due to this fact, any foreigner will feel oneself comfortable while visiting the capital of Belgium. The majority of people residing in this cosmopolitan city are really friendly and open-minded. Yet, just like while visiting any other place, it is still sensible to bear in mind several facts about Brussels which will help you to communicate with local people. We have included some of the most crucial information about Brussels into this short article.
The languages of Brussels
You might have already heard about the fact there are several official languages. They are German, French and Dutch. Even though all of them have the same legal status in this country, some languages are more prevailing in particular areas of Belgium than the others. When it comes to the capital of Belgium, its major language is French.
Wherever you go, whether it is a restaurant, a shop or an airport, in all likelihood, the Belgians there will be using French. Despite this fact, English is also extremely widespread in Brussels and many people know this language on the level allowing them to communicate with others. Thus, you will be able to have a conversation in English with the majority of waitresses in Brussels.
Greeting people in Brussels and having a small talk
The majority of Belgians do not have any problems with regular small talks and will be eager to have a conversation with a foreigner. The subjects that should be avoided while talking to Belgians are the same as in the case of having a conversation with any other people. Thus, it is better not to discuss politics and of course criticise Belgium in front of Belgians.
Note that for some Belgians the issue of a language might be also somewhat sensitive. For that reason, it is better not to delve into this topic with them as well.
In some cultures, asking questions about one’s current job are regarded as impolite, so you should not be curious about such things while talking to people in Brussels as well. Still, you might come across Belgians, who will ask you about that themselves, so be prepared for such a possibility.
Pay your attention to a popular way of greeting each other in Belgium as well as bidding someone farewell which is by kissing one cheek.
Giving tips in Brussels
If you have read our previous articles, you might have already come across some information about tipping in Brussels and in Belgium in general. Here, the majority of restaurants already include extra money for the service provided by its waitresses, so it is not expected from visitors to leave more tips. Of course, if you find the service to be of a particularly high quality, you are welcome to leave some tips, however they can be as small as one or two euros. The tips in the restaurants can be left on the table when you finish your meal or in a special transparent box.
There is also no custom of leaving tips for people of other occupations, for example, for taxi drivers or hairdressers. Still, you should be aware of the fact, tips should be left in the toilets maintained by attendants, however, the amount of a tip for them is rather small which is only around fifty cents.
Other things you should know about Brussels
The custom you definitely should be aware of if you are planning to go to Brussels is the escalator etiquette. The thing is, in the capital of Belgium, people are doing their best to stay only on the right-hand side of the escalator. This becomes particularly crucial when it comes to the escalators in the metro stations.
Undeniably, there are many commuters in a hurry trying to get into one train after leaving a previous one, thus they can rush over the station. It is quite sensible to leave free space for them on the escalator in order to let them move around without any difficulties.
In the capital of Belgium, it is also recommended to wave politely at the drivers when you would like to cross the road. Thus, you will communicate to them that you are going to cross the road. Of course, you should still be very careful as many drivers are not especially willing to stop at the crossing.
Another peculiar custom typical for the capital of Belgium is going out with one’s dog. By going out we mean not only walking or using public transport, but even going to restaurants. The residents of Brussels are very liberal when it comes to pets, especially dogs and they are eager to see dog owners enjoying their time with their four-legged friends. For that reason, you will see especially many dogs in Brussels.
Finally, be prepared to seeing Belgians showing their feelings, especially those of affection, in public. For example, while some cultures even those of Western Europe do not appreciate kissing in public, this is regarded as something totally normal in Belgium. Thus, you can see it a lot in Brussels as well.