Charleroi - Wallonia - Belgium - #1HT - A Rich Homeless

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domingo, 17 de dezembro de 2017

Charleroi - Wallonia - Belgium - #1HT

Finally I'll start to talk about my hitchhiking trip. After arriving from an Erasmus project in Italy, I started everything from one peculiar city that I have been in Belgium: Charleroi. For who doesn't know this city, you're not missing that much. That's so rude from me, but I created this point of view of the city based in 3 people that I met from there. They are not really satisfied to live there.

For who want to learn something today, just Google about "Charleroi - Belgium", you're going find so many things more than my words here.

In summary Charleroi is the largest city in the Wallonia, the French part of Belgium, and has the second most frequented airport with in Belgium, more than 7 million people flew there in 2016.

About Belgium, it's separated in two parts: Wallonia (French part), Flanders (Dutch part). I don't know a lot about the Belgium history, but what I read about and what I learned talking with locals is that Wallonia was a really rich part of Belgium for centuries and Flanders was just a big farm. In fact Wallonia was already a rich region in Europe. They had a abundance of coal and Iron and industries started to base there. Charleroi for instance had one of the most important producers of glass during the 14th century.

In the 19th century Wallonia was considered the second industrial power in the world. Yes, in the entire world, just after United Kingdom. 

Well, after the two worlds war, something happened. The coal was running out and it became hard to extract it overtime. The steel crises came and made things change dramatically. From the biggest city of the region being the second biggest industrial power in the world, for most of the time in the 80's and 90's Charleroi had the reference to have the highest unemployment and poverty rates of all of Europe.

After the 2000s things got better, but until now it's still remaining high rates of poverty. Normally a lot of factors result with others. With the high unemployment rates, it rose the poverty and consequently the crime. Charleroi became famous again, this time in the 90's for the crime rates.

This is just information that I collected after reading some articles and the reliable source (Wikipedia), I will put the links in the ending of the article.

Talking about my impressions there. Charleroi, esthetically saying, wasn’t that beautiful city, in comparison with other in that I’ve been Belgium, the Flanders part for instance. However for me, the experience that I use to have in the city is more important than just see attractions. 

Ok, It wasn't a colossal experience during this time, once Charleroi was just a hub city for me. I've spending maybe 3 hours there in this day. But I've been in Charleroi in other two opportunities before, when I had flights from there. Both of them were interesting for me. One of the moments I had a crazy day that I walked 14km to arrive in the airport early morning, still dark for most in most of the way, but I didn't feel unsafe even walking in some really weird places, like abandoned industry areas, some old roads and empty streets. Deciding to walk wasn’t the smartest option, once was saving just 7 euros, but in the ending it was really worth it. I had the chance to see what normally none traveler have the chance to see about Charleroi. A European city with a successful past, but affected for the history and now it can easily be compared with the south European economy, regions like south of Italy and south of Spain share somehow similar statistics. Just in Charleroi 44% of the youth under the age 25 are unemployed.

Well, I hope that things can get better there, it's a sad city, but how many sad realities are around the world? I promise you, I won't talk about Brazil or South America now. 

Shortly, I left from Charleroi to hitchhike to Namur, my first real stop in my 5 weeks hitchhiking trip.



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