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Posted 23 September 2005

In Belgium, identity cards are issued to everybody. It works in the following way:-

When you first arrive in the country, you go to the local 'commune' building (town/city hall). You show them your passport and any other document of permission to stay and/or work here. They take all the details including the address where you are staying or living. This is the beginning of the 'registration' process. (Short, it ain't).

Then you wait for some days/weeks and then plod (a policeman) will knock your door. His job is to establish that you are who you say you are and that in fact you live at the address you gave to the commune. He reports this back to the commune, who will, after some days/weeks, summon you back. Then you give them a couple of passport-sized photographs and a few days/weeks later, you go back to the commune to get your new ID card. This is valid for 3 months.

Now, if you are an EU citizen, after 6 months (that is 2 issues of 3 month ID cards) you can get a card for 5 years. If, though, you are other than EU, (American, for example), you can't get a 5-year card until you have married an EU citizen. So, when you take them your marriage certificate to prove your marriage is valid, and your 'apostil', to prove that your proof of marriage in valid, then you can apply for a 5-year ID card.

(HEY! YOU! At the back - Wake up)

When you apply for this card, after a few weeks plod (a policeman) will knock on your door (thank God for (cut & paste). [Re-read second paragraph]. This time, he wants to know who owns the house, how big it is, how many bedrooms, bathrooms etc - well, maybe you are harbouring several families of asylum seekers, unregistered foreign nationals or other trrrists/turrrists.

Now, this is all very well, plod, but where the f**k are you when I need you, like, for instance, when some bastard is breaking into my house.

NOW! BRITAIN! At the back - Wake up. Are you sure that you want ID cards??)


Posted 20 September 2005

A beautiful city with history around almost every corner, but mucky and quite dangerous. According to the guide book, there are 2 kinds of pedestrians in Rome - the quick and the dead! I believe it. According to an Italian friend of mine, Romans don't drive, they 'approximate'. They approximately miss you....

Good food everywhere - if you want something just a little different, then typically Roman cuisine can be tried at Giggetto al Portico d'Ottavia. The fried artichoke, a traditional dish from the poorer Jewish quarter of Rome is good!

If you go onto the metro (underground, subway, tube) take a bat to club any mofo you bump into that looks like they remotely resemble a pick-pocket - if you don't find them, they will find you.

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