vrijdag 18 december 2009

Coep de coeur: Brussels!

Brussels has got a very special spot in my heart. We lived down there for 3 years and I remember that I had not such an easy of saying goodbye of Louvain where I was living at the time. But now that we have moved on to Overijse. P longed for less typical noises a city produces and more parking spots! I folowed along with him but leaving behind Brussels was like leaving behind a piece of myself!

So when the gang of Hoepertingen wanted to get together for a weekend I couldn't wait to introduce Brussels to them and make clear to them that there is more to our capital then traffic jams, the royal palace, lost tourists, too expensive restaurants, dirty streets,....

I wanted to make sure that they got to see the place where I fell in love with and will always go back with a smile. So on Saturday the 12 of November we met up in the lobby of Bloom Hotel. With the punch line:'Stay away of the ordinary' for sure a fitting place to crash for the nigth. The fact that these accomodations are situated in the rather dodgy part of the city might keep you away but it is for sure one of the surprises the capital of Europe has got in store for you!!

R was aleady waiting in the lobby when I walked in and did I have a surprise in store because I managed to contact one more person of our gang. B and I managed to keep it a secret. He was rather excited to see our faces when they would see him. Well observing R, B & D seeing B back after that time seemed a bit like watching one of those cheesy episode where people get back together after a long time! Also W, our guide for the day witnessed this scene.

We then checked out our rooms and then took of for a walk but we first had to adjust our outfits to the rather polar temperatures. Outside the city was waiting for us, the temperature was dropping and the city was completely dressed up for the Holiday Season.

We jumped on a tram and headed to the palace of Justice where we descented to most colorful part of Brussels, the Marollen. Highligths of that 'slow' walk:
- a drink in one of the 'staminees' where the very out of the ordinary inhabitants of the city quarters have a beer, play a tune on the jukebox, dance or play cards.
- eating the superb Marollen delicacy 'escargots'. They were served warm in a plastic cup with a tiny 'forchette' and were swimming in a very tasteful 'juice'. The lady who served us with a big smil,some less teeth and speaking 'Brussels' made them taste even better. If you wish the know what that language sounds like just try to read the cartoon here above!
- A tasteful beer at 'De Skieve Architect'. Staminee number two where we wer able to suck up some of the special flavour that city produces. We then decided to call L to find out when she was going to arrive.
- The many streets, monuments and buildings that tell their own story. Poverello, where the less fortuned inhabitant can get a warm meal, the headquarters of the PS (where Madame Non, feels at home), La clef d'Or (where our worldfamous Ketje Toots Thielemans drinks a beer and plays a tune or two), 'Les Bains (where our former prime minister Van den Boeynams used to take his shower) where people can swim in an architectural gem, the old fireware department (a less succesful reconversion), the primary school designed by Art Nouveau goeroe Horta: school 'De Kindertuin', Mont-de-piete (the last 'real pantjeshuis of this country)and many more!
- Beer number tree (but I guess I lost count how many we in total we already had ;-) we had in very arty farty environment of the 'Het Goudblommeke in Papier' where world famous artist got to together for some colorful discussions (Magritte had his first exhibition here and Hergé also found his way there for some inspiration!
- We passed many shops with some less straightforward objects for sale (see facebook pictures)and fancy shops that were dressed up for the season.

Then it was time to say goodbye of B & W and heading back to the hotel were L was waiting to join us. For our reunion dinner we ended up in Brasserie Ploegmans. For sure a place to remember where you can digest some of our most straightforward traditional dishes. Our table got filled up with the classics like 'carbonade', 'balletjes in tomatensaus', 'vleesbrood with stoemp & spruiten'. Top of the bill was R his choice: 'mergpijpjes'.

In the company of a bottle of champagne and a very friendly staff we for sure could agree with the review of the 'Agenda' (bet that the copies that I passed out have already been recycled. After a rather cool down walk through Brussels we settled for drinks at the 'Roi de Belge'.

Here we talked for hours about many things, did I empty my handbag and amazed them all by its content. You can be sure there were some surprises in there for me as well! L then tried to convince that trip to the toilets was for sure a smelly mission! D told us a very gripping story about his daughter P and we tried to convince B why a dinner experience at a three star restaurant is worth its money.

After we had finished the last drinks we decided to call it the night and some of were tempted to finally try out those booked rooms. On the way home we found out that doing 'pipi' is not a right!

Arriving at the hotel we found oyt that last nightcaps were not to be found in the 'cool fridge'. When we finally found the venting machine that was described in the hotel directory we were rather dissapointed: just pop no beer! So R&B went on a mission of drinks.

So three of us stayed behind in the hope they would return soon with some extra fluids. You can be sure that midnight already had passed for hours and that our bodies were screaming for sleep. So L & I gave D a night kiss and headed for our room. Just before taking of for dream country there were knocks on the door. Surprise, surprise: B&R!

Suddenly I had this flashback about when we are at camp: escaping to other people their room and once we got there we would just sit there. L also pointed this out but the big difference was that in no time we were having some rather deep going conversations. Very odd sensation to be lying there in your bed and discussing the facts of life.

Many of the things we talked about where just very meaningful and made me also realise that we are growing older but that inside of us still the fire is burning that we need to make something meaningful out of it. All five of us have made choices, have felt pain or lost someone of something on the way, have still dreams and intentions.

I fell asleep when the sun almost peeked through the curtains and housekeeping also came in when we were still not out of bed. At the tasty breakfast we looked rather all looked zombielike but inside I did feel so much warmer because I was sitting there with friends for life that I truely believe in and whose principles I can underline.

Keep up the spirit you all and hope you had a nice stay in the capital of Europe and will return many more times!!! On the way home I suddenly came to think of Jacques Brel who also loved Brussels and whose spirit of life can inspire me. For me this city has got an amazing power and spirit and I was happy that ones more I felt it's heartbeat going stronger then ever. In our hearts we are all little 'ketjes'.

P.S.: Pictures are to be found on Facebook but here I include a video with some nice pics and a song that is very suitable!

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