Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Wandering in Brussels

I had an interesting day in Brussels, if a little bit on the long side as Ian was working until 6.00. After an hour and a half of looking around the much hyped Christmas market (about 20 wooden stalls with novelties) and the shops I decided that there was nothing much that I wanted to buy (why spend £10 on a chocolate Santa..OK I know it is nice chocolate but would anyone I know really be able to tell the difference). I had my first hot drink in a health food restaurant as I was desperate to use the toilet and Brussels seemed to have a lack of public ones. After that I wandered some more around sparkly arcades with and took some pictures of the unusual Christmas tree decorations.

As you can see this one was made of mirrors! Lunch was beckoning and I had a yearning to try one of those nice looking tarts and so settled on a little coffee shop. It was full of older women sitting at tables by themselves having coffee and cake. My French has come on enough to understand the conversation between an older lady and a couple at another table. She struck up the conversation and after a talk about the weather she told them that her husband was now dead and she lives on her own but tries to make the effort to come out every day to talk to people. After lunch I wandered some more and took a photo of this cyclist! Just nearby a meals on wheels van was delivering its' fare .

After lunch I did more wandering...and began to get a bit tired. I longed for somewhere to just sit! As it was Monday all the museums were closed so I wandered up to the Cathedral. It was warm and inviting, with nativity scenes around the chapel representing all the ethnic communities in Brussels. I sat down and found myself drifting off to sleep for a while until the priest interrupted with a short prayer for all those who had lost their homes! I was surprised to see how many people ran out of the Cathedral at this as it is after all what the building is about and it was pretty inoffensive. Perhaps the priest thought I was one of the homeless as I was beginning to feel that way with 3 more hours to wait and nowhere else to go! My next walk took me past the main railway station where I looked at a few shops and then 'rested' again in the waiting area! I really did begin to feel like a down and out as the street dwellers came in to finish their cans of beer in peace and the man who looked like he was suffering from the side effects of his anti-psychotic medication came to beg food!

A final stop in another cake shop passed a bit more time and then I headed towards Le Grand Place where I was meeting Ian later. It was dark and the 'Electrabel nights' show had started with coloured lights projected over the grand buildings in time to electronic music from steel speakers in the square.

At this point Ian said he was on his way and it started to pour with rain so I popped into a nearby restaurant, ordered a beer and sat and waited for him!
So my experience of Brussels was interesting! I understand why they invented all those beers, I got a feel for what it must be like to have nowhere to go all day and I realised that the world is full of lonely people.

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