After another weekend trip in Brussels, I think I can safely say that I would never want to live there. Which isn’t to say that it has nothing to offer — we had a great time! But I prefer living in a smaller city with a little more charm.
Here’s an example of what I mean. We took a walk from our hotel over to the Cinquantenaire Park. The weather was a bit dreary, but I was curious to see some of the buildings there. As I walked up to the Great Mosque of Brussels, I saw on the plaque what it used to look like:
Now it looks like this:
I mean, really? It seems like everywhere you turn in Brussels, you see run down buildings and a lack of coherent design. As our friend said, it looks like an empire in decay. Or a not-so-well-planned attempt at an empire.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t like Brussels at all, so let me gush a bit (and hopefully calm the nerves of the fans of Brussels who I just offended). I obviously stuffed myself with chocolate, nibbled on waffles, tried moules marinières, and gobbled down fries with four different sauces. (No beer on this trip, but we can easily hop over into Belgium any time to stock up on good beer.)
On Sunday, I got up and took a walk around the city by myself. I started in Brussels Park, wandering from the Belgian Federal Parliament building to the Royal Palace at the other end. I read that the park’s design was influenced by masonic symbols, which makes for an interesting layout.
From there I wandered back toward the hotel, past the US embassy and the Statue of Europe, which was mostly hidden behind a construction fence. I also stopped at the EU Parliament building, because I am a nerd. (Actually, I wandered all around the European Quarter to see the buildings. They reminded me of this hilarious blog by an EU interpreter.)
I was surprised to find out that there is a piece of the Berlin wall just outside the EU Parliament building. I saw the wall when I visited Berlin in high school, but I didn’t expect to see a piece here.
I also strolled through the nearby Leopold Park, which has a beautiful lake. It would be a lovely place to spend an afternoon on a warm, sunny day. And then it was back to the hotel to collect my husband and our friend so we could get lunch.
But perhaps the best part of the trip came last. Before heading home, my husband and I went to a milonga. I wore a new dress (sleeveless and short — milongas are warm enough for me to dress like spring) and happened to see several leaders I knew. I also met another excellent leader for the first time. There is something magical about encountering someone who hears and feels the music just like you do, so that following takes no thought or energy, just movement.
Despite everything I saw over the weekend, that tango feeling is the piece of Brussels that I truly carried home with me.
2 thoughts on “Weekend in Brussels”
Haha seeing as there are so many place to visit while in Europe, I’m glad I can cross Brussels off the list! In other news, I started going to a Integrationskurs, and I’m quite disappointed with it. We have days where all we’ve done is discuss a random thing someone’s brought up. That may be good for practising your speaking, but there are English words inserted in the statements, the grammar is completely wrong, and you don’t really get corrected! And everyone talks over the top of each other! It’s worse than kindergarten! Now I know how luck I was to do the course I did in Munich. Amazing teachers with good lesson plans. If the government says they’re not going to pay for my Intergrationskurs, I think I might quit and do something else… I still have to find out if I HAVE to do the Orientierungskurs if I get money from the government too… *whinge whinge whinge* =p
I wouldn’t cross it off the list of places to visit! I just wouldn’t want to live there. 🙂
Oy, that Integrationskurs sounds dreadful. I got pretty lucky at the Sprachenakademie here — really good curriculum and (mostly) great teachers. I can’t imagine trying to improve when there’s a bunch of English being thrown around and no corrections given. Yuck! I think I had to do the Orientierungskurs as part of the requirement for me to renew my residence permit, but I don’t know anything about the requirements beyond that … maybe you can find a better school that offers the course? Good luck!