Thursday, August 5, 2010

How to do a terrace

Belgium has two things that Los Angeles doesn't have: seasons and weather. Lots of weather. Between the cold temperatures in wintertime (not to mention early spring and late fall) and rain pretty much year-round, that leaves few really good days. You know... warm and sunny with clear, blue skies. The kind of weather Los Angeles has all the time.

So when they do get good weather, Belgians really know how to take advantage of it. One way they make the most of nice day, especially during the summer (when the sun doesn't set until around 10 o'clock) is to find a café or restaurant with an outdoor patio, gather some friends and just... hang out.

There could be a meal involved, but it could be just drinks--alcoholic or not. The point is simply to sit outdoors, sipping a beverage or eating something as the inclination strikes, but mainly... enjoying the weather, your friends and the ambiance, as everyone around you is pretty happy about the nice weather too.

In Dutch this is called "een terrasje doen." Literally translated, it means "doing a little terrace." We don't really have an equivalent expression in English. When people ask me what we say in the States, the best I can come up with is "going to a restaurant or café with outdoor seating and getting a table on the patio and hanging out with friends while having a drink or possibly a meal." The Dutch is much more concise.

Everywhere you go this time of year, you see tables set up on the sidewalk, in city plazas and on rear patios of every restaurant. Most places seem to double, if not triple, their seating capacity during the warmer months. And if the sun is shining, every seat will be filled. Now that it's August and fall is around the corner, we're already thinking our days of terrasje doen are numbered. Until next year.


  1. I love when someone asks "Do you want to do a terrace?" Or they combine the languages. "Interested in doing a terrasje?"

    1. An Aussie friend of mine says that some of her Flemish co-workers (in Genk) have turned terras into a verb: Wij gaan terrasen. Which is not proper Dutch!