Baarle-Nassau Travel Blog› entry 69 of 78 › view all entries
May 24th, 2009 – by: Adrian_Liston
Well, a lot of services are shared. There is an international library, a joint cultural centre and joint provision of water, gas and sewerage. But a lot of stuff is divided along strict national lines. There are two Town Halls, one for Baarle-Hertog and one for Baarle-Nassau, two fire services (it must be difficult for fire-fighters to keep track of whether a fire is on their side of the border or not), two telephone services and two electricity services. There are even two police services - I hope there is a good extradition treaty! Can you imagine the difficulty in trying to track down a criminal who can run across twenty international borders in ten minutes? Of course, you could just surround the entire exclave and wait until they get bored of living in the same few square metres. Until 1860 there was only a single Church, but then the Dutch Bishop of Breda realised that this meant Dutch Catholics were attending a foreign (Belgian) church, so he created a second Church for the Dutch.
One of the most absurd situations is the postal system. If you put a letter in a Baarle-Hertog post-box for a Baarle-Hertog address it is dealt with by the local postal system. If, however, you post it to your neighbour across the road in Baarle-Nassau the letter is international, gets sent to Turnhout then Brussels, transferred to Amsterdam by air, distributed to the regional centre in Tilburg and finally delivered to Baarle-Nassau.
To make matters more complicated, it is only for taxation and residential purposes that the front door counts. For all other legal matters, where you are inside the building dictates what is permissible. The movie theatre crosses the border, so when a movie came out that was rated X in Belgium but not in the Netherlands the Belgian police sat at the back of the theatre to make sure the audience kept to the Dutch side of the theatre.
A strange and crazy system, but it all seems to work out fine. The weather was perfect, people were packed in the outdoor cafes, we ate fine chocolates and quality beers and came home with a international sun tan.
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