So, as a Belgian, I wanted to chime on the three episodes partially spent on my country's soil.
First, I was overjoyed halfway in the Denmark leg, because I could see the racers doing interviews in front of the nightly-lit Atomium so I knew right away they were coming in my country next.
The European Parliament is actually right next to my former highschool, so I know the area pretty well. I can't remember what time they arrived in Brussels, but without traffic, the ride from the train station to the European parliament is like 15 minutes (probably less because they can take tunnels). They then went to the Concert Noble which is a gorgeous Ball Room (I went there two or three times to attend Student Balls) practically next to the parliament, like, walking distance. I had to snicker when I saw they jumped in their taxi to go there. Does anyone know what was the other side of the detour that was edited out.
I also was really confused when they mentioned they had to go to Park Elisabeth. I was like "...where?". And then I understood. See the huge building we can see in the background? That's the Basilic of Koekelberg. It didn't surprise me that one of the taxi drivers didn't know where to go. Nobody uses the name Park Elisabeth, we would say go to the Park around the Basilic (which is huge and visible from far away). My mother didn't know the place either.
Also, the taxis in Brussels are CRAZY expensive. They must have received a huge amount of money.
A bit of creative editing when Marcus and Amani are driving at the beginning of the second episode. We can see them lost somewhere (probably in Anderlecht or Koekelberg), then there's a shot of a street going downhill, then back to their car. That street is actually Belliard Street, which is where the Concert Noble and the parliament are located, not where the Basilic is. I loved how the national rain was puring though. It has been a particularly rainy summer here, but rain is really frequent in Belgium anyway.
Gent is a fine choice of a city to go next. It's medieval and beautiful, and not too far away from Brussels. I thought they would go to Bruges, which is gorgeous, but Gent is a fine city too.
Making them drive in Belgium is evil though. The cities' names change depending on the language spoken in the region you are. So Gent would become Gand and Brussels would become Bruxelles. They were lucky because there are some devious ones (Tournai/Doornik, Mons/Bergen, Anvers/Antwerp).
Lommel and Gent both are quite close to Brussels. Beersel is an adjacent commune, so everything was really close to the ther location (then again, Belgium is a small country). I had never heard of The Muur, though I was laughing when they tried to pronounce the Flemish woords :)
The clue for the Atomium was genius, because everybody in Belgium knows what it is and where it's at. The trick is, it's visible from far away, but getting there can be difficult if you don't know what you're looking for exactly to exit the highway (you have to follow the Heysel direction mostly). It didn't surprise me that some racers took a long time to go from Beersel to the Atomium.
As for the Tintin task, it was a fun little task. The mural is located in the middle of the street between the Grand Place and the Mannekenpis statue, so it's likely that many people, even at 4 o'clock, would know where it's located. As an aside, there are many such murals in Brussels, but each represents another comic book (due to its location, the Tintin one is probably the easiest to find). The other Tintin mural they showed is actually from the Comic Book Museum.
For the tasks, I must say I was very disappointed. It's as if a production assistant asked his pals what they knew about Belgium, and he got Jean-Claude Van Damme, waffles and the Atomium as an answer. The culturism task was fun, but has nothing to do with Belgian culture. I'll allow the waffles (and the boating, although it seemed random), but the pigeons came out of nowhere. Perhaps Belgium truly is number one in this sport, but nobody in Belgium knows it (I learned something at least). The Tintin task was fine and probably a tie-in with the movie.
Otherwise, I was really offended by the Ford task. You waited 19 seasons to go to Belgium and then you waste half an episode on a stupid (and endless) commercial??? Do that in India (in fairness, they did it with Snapples) or China, countries that have been visited 3 trillion times before. Thank goodness the driving instructors were funny at least. Well, two episodes in Belgium is not bad, but that Ford task really left a bad taste in my mouth.
Edited by Isuzu, Dec 31, 2011 @ 11:32 AM.