Another terrorist attack and in another city that I’ve spent a little time. We all remember this past November when there were attacks in Paris, probably my favorite city dans le monde. Brussels is home to NATO and the European Union so it’s a very important city, not just from an historic angle but for financial, humanitarian and political angles, as well. It’s the capital city of a beautiful and mostly docile country.
I’d like to say that I have fond memories of the city, but truthfully, I really don’t. Well, that’s not exactly true. There were parts that I really liked. The Grand Place (pronounced grahnd plah-s) is as beautiful and welcoming as any large-scaled, historic city in the world. It is like stepping into Fantasyland in Walt Disney World every time you step into and out of any store or just when you open and close your eyes.The Manneken Pis (which really does mean what you’d think it would; see the pic, right) is classic and, really, it’s funny. It has other points, but overall, my thoughts of Brussels is that it is a dirty, miserable city. And, we’ve been there twice.
The first time The BCPF and I were there, it was March, 2013. We had just gotten there from Amsterdam, which we loved. It was exciting getting to Brussels; cool and sexy. Then we got out of the train and it was like a cloud was just on the city. It didn’t help that it was kind of cold at that time. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza and that hotel was quite nice. We made the mistake of asking the concierge about where we should eat and they basically sent us to the European version of Shoney’s. A place called Chez Leon. I had mussels there, which is kind of a specialty in Brussels. Well, The BCPF had one style and I had another; can’t remember which is which. Whatever the case, I got sick, she didn’t. I think mine was food poisoning. It’s a good thing that our room was nice and comfortable because I was laid up all that night and most of the next day. The bathroom, I must say, was pristine! I swore that I’d never eat any food that rhymes with the city I eat it in again. In fact, I’ve probably had about 3 mussels, total, since then.
The second time, we got there in 2014 for the last night of our honeymoon; we had just been in Bruges in the northwest of Belgium, that was one beautiful (and plentiful on the beer) city. It was important to be in Brussels to catch our flight home and yes, we were leaving from the very airport that was involved in the attacks this morning. That one night we stayed at the Sofitel Brussels and I have to say it was one of the nicest hotels that I’ve ever stayed in and I’ve stayed in some nice ones. That night, too, we decided to have dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, BE Café Marché Jourdan which is an awesome and quite fancy restaurant. I think one of the best meals I’ve ever had was at that restaurant.
So, the hotels (especially the ones that I sell there) are fantastic and food was hit (in BE Café Marché Jourdan, at least) or miss (Chez Leon). It’s just that the rest of the city is dingy and gray and dreary. The people, for the most part, were polite and helpful, but there’s just something about the city itself that I don’t care for. All that being said (and I know it was a lot), I truly feel for the people because I do feel a twinge of kinship with the city. It’s just like the cousin that I really don’t care for. I do like all my cousins, by the way. But, that whole area of Europe is near and dear to my heart. The fact that yet another country is hit hard by these selfish, ungodly monsters is enough to hurt your heart, no matter how you feel about the town. These Belgians are human and deserve to live without fear of this craziness, but right now, especially today, they aren’t afforded that luxury. I hope they rest well and come back stronger. My thoughts and positive vibes to them. And, here’s hoping that Brussels, as a city, brightens up after they’re back on their feet.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“L’union fait la force!” – Belgian motto (Unity makes strength)