Brussels

May 1, 2007

A bit of a strange place, schizophrenic in a way only somewhere with 2 official languages (used everywhere), 7 parliaments and the presence of the major institutions of the EU could be. This is in addition to an apparent total lack of town planning, meaning that beautiful churches and cathedrals are sullied by the presence of brutalist 60s office blocks next door.

However, Jude & I had a lovely time. Brussels also has a lot of good things going for it. I’m thinking in particular of the food and the beer, both of which are fantastic, as well as the restaurant culture which makes eating out both pleasurable and affordable. It is also a manageable city, in that you can walk everywhere (at least when the weather is as good as it was this weekend!) and see something different around every corner.

While I was there, I read Harry Pearson’s A Tall Man in a Low Land, which is a funny, affectionate and perceptive look at some of the quirks of the Belgians, along with their difficult history of oppression, invasion and ridicule.

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