Did you know that [counter] people have been having a skeg at my little autonomous region?

  

Brussels

05/11/2012

What I liked best about Brussels was that my fear of being forced to eat sprouts was unfounded. 

What I also liked about Brussels was the fact that it was awash with beer, chocolate, mussels, waffles and the 'urine' which spurted from the genitalia of statues of small Belgian people.

I really enjoyed the old buildings with their intricately carved gold and silver painted masonry in the Grote Markt, the windy streets (which were also windy . . . brrrr!), the extreme decadence of Galeries Royale St Hubert which when opened by King Leopold I in 1847 became the world's first ever shopping arcade (and effectively what inspired the eventual building of Phelps Parade in Calne) and all the little back streets and alleys where the tourists never go. And I really, really enjoyed the Johnny Hallyday gig and my look around the Toots Thielemans exhibition.

All in all I had a ball in Brussels but if you thought that I was spending one more night at the Hotel Aristote in Stalingrad Laan (I'm disappointed in myself that I never asked why the street was so named) then I'm a Dutchman.

So the need arose to travel on to the next town on my itinery. This involved a train journey and it involved changing trains at a certain city in Eastern Belgium. At the ticket office at Bruxelles Central Station the man in front of me said to the young gentleman ticket seller, "First Class, Antwerp."

My turn came. I couldn't resist. "Standard Liege," I requested. And next week I'm going on a Lokomotiv to Leipzig.

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