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    I think there are some differences depending on who is paying for your trip. As a main-track speaker or someone who can expense the trip, the Novotel off Grand Place and a taxi to the event is great, but it’s expensive. When I was a poor student travelling on my own money, I stayed in a much cheaper hotel on the Avenue Louise. There’s a regular tram that goes along there to ULB, and it’s walkable if you want a bit more exercise.

    A lot of the hotels have lobby space that has power and WiFi. If a few folks from the same project are going, try to arrive a day early and leave a day late for an impromptu hackathon. I had a lot of fun doing this (make sure you are all periodically buying drinks and / or snacks and they won’t mind). Even hotel bars have decent beer and acceptable coffee.

    The first year I went (2003ish?), the beer event was crowded and loud. It got worse every subsequent year I attended and the last few times I just arranged to meet people from various projects at another bar (there is no shortage of bars that sell good beer in Brussels!) and went to Delerium on Sunday evening instead (when it was almost empty and you and 20 of your closest friends could walk in and get a table and be able to hear folks everyone).

    Once you reach FOSDEM there is no problem — conference area provides you fast wireless network access.

    I haven’t been for a few years, but it was a running joke that the intro talk would thank Cisco for providing the wireless and then 1000 geeks would all try to connect to the same AP and it would crash. If you have Eduroam access, you’ll find it a lot more reliable than the conference WiFi. If you are friends with anyone who works at a university, they may be able to get you set up (it remains one of the most useful perks of being a visiting researcher at pretty much any university). If you’re a student, make sure you have it set up on all of the devices that you use.

    Eat proper breakfast. Not “just a fruit and coffee” but some proper one. You may not have a time to stand in a queue for some FOSDEM food. It is not worth your time.

    Absolutely. The food options at the event were pretty miserable every time I’ve been. If you queue, you can get some nice chips, but that’s about it.

    One other word of warning if you are vegetarian or have other dietary requirements: a lot of restaurants in Belgium (in my experience, this is not limited to Brussels) have absolutely no willingness to cater to you. Make sure that you plan where you want to eat in advance because the normal approach of just wandering around and looking at restaurants will leave you looking at dozens of places before you find one where you can eat, let alone want to. Happy Cow had a good list for Brussels last time I was there. Note: I haven’t been for about 5-6 years, so it’s possible that this is better now.

    In addition to the ‘clothes’ advice: check the forecast before you go. One year I was there, it was -10C. The taxis (arranged by the conference organisers for speakers) made us wait out of the front for over half an hour. The skin on the inside of my nose didn’t fully recover for years from that experience. This may also factor into hotel choice: if it’s significantly below freezing then the taxies just don’t run, so staying somewhere with easy tram access is a big win.

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      Maybe my threshold for being annoyed is higher (or lower?) but I always had a hotel where I could just take the bus to the ULB (maybe with a 10min walk) and it was perfectly fine, didn’t need a taxi once and I kinda liked the sandwiches in Janson. They’re basic but perfectly cromulent, I would grab a Pain au Chocolat for breakfast at a proper bakery though.

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        I don’t think I ever managed to get near the front of the queue in Janson. I waited for half an hour once and then gave up.

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      Great post! Looking forward to being there! Here are some random additional tips in no particular order from my previous years:

      If you’re staying further away, 4x Uber trips (there+back x 2 days) are worth the price, the buses are a pain in the morning and they’re either super warm from heating+breathing or super cold. Bonus points if you can pool/share with nearby folks!

      Plan what talks you want to go to beforehand, or at least have an idea! If you’re like me and just kinda wanna hang out, make sure at least someone in your group has a vague plan!

      The wi-fi is awful. Consistently. (completely understandable too, there’s not much they can do about the surge of users) so buy a data pack or whatever you need to use 4g.

      Go to at least one completely random talk, just walk in, see what it’s like! You might learn something new or discover a new language/tool you never knew about before! Worst case scenario you can get bored and leave early (but be sure not to be disruptive if you do!)

      I’m sure there will be another post nearer the time for lobster meetups etc.

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        Great post, I miss FOSDEM.

        The beer event is something you should definitely check out but I never managed to stay there longer than an hour or two, too crowded and there are other venues - if you have a group of people to spend the evening with, I guess if you really want to mostly mingle with the FOSDEM crowd then that is the place to be.

        My tip for a more involved dinner (but not totally high class) would be “La Braise”, one of the best steaks I ever had. Been a few years, but we simply reserved a table a few days before.