Brussels adventures

Brussels is a strange name. Why is it in plural? Anyway. I had to travel to Brussels today to fetch a code from the Belgian government to do stuff with – immigrant life, yes -, and I’m not paying 20 euros (= 21 US dollars / 17 English pound) train fare just for some code, so I did some tourist things as well. Since I don’t really seem to have followers from Belgium, I thought I’d tell you some things about our cave of a capital that no one here likes. The parts around Brussels central station are alright – there’s the pretty city hall and such things. But don’t go anywhere else, it’s all gray concrete and it sucks.

train ride
is quite nice, because Belgian landscape – if you travel south a little – is just these calm, flowing undulations, which makes it look a bit like the ocean. You know, a (mostly) green ocean with houses and cows and trees and stuff. I always find it really calming to look at when I’m on a train here.

je ne parle pas français
Brussels terrifies me because it’s big and strange, and most people speak French and my French is, well, pathétique (yes I know that my blogging name is French but that’s just for exotic reasons). I have absolutely no idea what’s going on when people suddenly start talking French to me. My social anxiety can’t handle it. But I conquered the city of foreign tongues! Also, I found a secondhand bookshop (those are the best!) and bought a copy of Jules Verne’s Vingt mille lieues sous les mers 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea in English – so I’m going to go ahead and read that until I can read French.

getting lost
so Brussels is big. It’s so confusing. Took me about 20 minutes to find the government building, which is right next to the train station, but the train station has a million exits, which is nice. Also, their sign is about 3 centimeters big and right next to a hotel sign, which is about 2 kilometers big. Because who needs to find the government? Not Belgians. But at least you’ll have no problem finding a hotel to spend the night, in case you need an additional day to search for the government. That’s nice of them. But I found it and got my appointment etc., and then I wandered around the train station again for about 30 minutes looking for the exit that I had memorized from my former visit, which I knew I needed for my touristy stuff. Couldn’t find it. Turns out I was at the wrong train station (Brussels has like 15, it’s hard).

military
we live in a potential war-zone etc. these days, so Brussels is filled with militias. Plus, Brussels has 6 police districts (Belgium is divided and strange and I’m not even gonna try), so they seem to all be there, plus, someone from the railroad apparently decided that it was a good idea to hire a scattering of security companies, so they are all there, too. Brussels is so nice and cosy, it’s great (Antwerp too). But you get used to it. Their big automatic guns are fascinating, in any case.

Manneken pis
our national pride, AKA the little pissing man statue (it’s this), AKA “the noble Lord” (quoting manneken-pis.be). If you’re wondering why I love Belgium: this is it. I’ve lived here for 3,5 years now and I still hadn’t seen it, so now was as good a time as any. Walked right past it. It’s 61 centimeters (24 inch) tall. Luckily, though, there was a group of tourists around it calling for my attention, so I did see it. So yeah. Totally worth it.

art
Brussels has quite a lot of museums, so that’s cool. I Went to Bozar, an art museum, which was a mistake. Should’ve gone to the museum of Belgian beers instead. But what can you do. Anyway, Bozar can have nice things too, it’s just so … expensive. You pay per exposition and they’re not that big, so if you want to see all of them (or, if you’re me: 2), you’re broke. Kind of annoying. The lockers are free though, so that’s a plus. I just picked a random expo because it was crowded + I suddenly had to pick one and I wasn’t prepared so I panicked, but it turned out to be quite all right. I suppose you have to like modern conceptual art, which I don’t always do, but I quite liked this one. Saw Yves Klein: he “made” his own shade of blue and they’d put a big, hmm well I don’t know how to call it but this, on the floor, somewhat like a river, which was kind of mesmerizing. I find his shade of blue very calming. He also did thinks like painting with fire, where he’d spray with something on a canvas – water? I heard some people say “spray de l’eau”, I’m trusting the French -, as in, he’d position naked female models against the canvas and spray their figures. And then he just went over the whole thing (except for the models, they’d leave first) with a flamethrower, so he’d end up with a canvas filled with strange colors and figures. Pretty cool. They had little clips of that, among other things. So it was kinda worth my 16 euros in the end.

train ride II
took the wrong train back. I mean, it was the right train, but it also wasn’t because it was the snail one that takes a massive detour. Took me almost 3 times as long to get back to Ghent. Don’t do that. Unless you feel like spending time in a train, then do.

Ghent is better
that’s my conclusion. I’m not biased at all. If you’re ever around here, come to Ghent, it’s super fun and pretty. Walking through the city center feels like walking through a fairy tale.

Okay that was it thanks for reading bye

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