‘Yeah it’s a shitbox, you don’t hear of anyone buying up real estate in Belgium. You have Ghent, Bruges is nice, Liege is an armpit, Brussels? Meehhh.’ – The missus.
Any other day, any other day than this, I would have ordered the sample tray of beers that I was lasciviously spying on the table next to me. But today, the run had ended. The slew of birthday cocktails, wedding pre-drinks, drinks, post drinks, hotel mini-bar, the endless schlepping from station to hotel, to car, to train, uphill-bastard cobbled back streets that fought against the luggage wheels like coarse stubble against a rusty razor. This was where the hangover and emancipation of a week without sleep had come to rest. Still I had the courage for a singular pale ale, but it wasn’t the same.
Outside the pub we saw a short-squarish man with ill over-sized Bermuda shorts, shout and spit at a waitress whilst simultaneously eat a 12″inch meatball baguette. They exchanged growling expletives in French before another diner stepped in and barked the man down. It was a humiliating pratfall for the squarish man who mounted his bike, scoffed a few words over his shoulder, still scoffing his baguette, and left. The have-a-g0 hero diner, was cheered by onlookers and given a free meal, which he declined. Minutes later a large, muscular grunt of a man turned up to the restaurant, kissed the waitress on the cheek, thanked the diner with both hands, ordered a beer and took surrogacy of the situation.
It’s a community alright. They stick up for each other in this town. Rumour has it there’s a discount button on the tills in the chip shops, locals get 10% off their French Fries whilst tourists have to suffer the inflated prices. But that’s fair game, the Belgians invented French Fries, or Freiten, you can’t bemoan a culture for offering the indigenous a members discount.
As far as the architecture goes there’s something for everyone. Of all the examples of architectural style, Brussels is very proud of its art nouveau era (c. 1890-1920), when Victor Horta was a famous designer, known throughout Europe for his contemporary architectural constructions. There is a multitude of design styles to be found throughout Belgium and is home to some outrageously exorbitantly priced hotels such as the Wiltcher’s Steigenberger. A place that is not afraid to eject a newly wed couple out onto the street when Guns N Roses comes to town and demands occupancy of the Royal Suite. (This happened to my friends whilst I stayed).
I’m afraid I better crack on with my life, do leave a comment if you have any further thoughts on Brussels or opinions on the above. Click on the pictures to follow me on Instagram.