Life in Brussels

12 Mar 2002 // places

Finally, after some 2 months in Brussels, my life has settled into some kind of normality. I have found me a room in Sablon, perhaps the most expensive part of Brussels. There are antique shops with weightily priced ugly old furniture. Bars are definitely on the boutique side and the buildings have been impressively maintained in the ancient state. My room is on the third floor of a relatively steep staircase and it looks out onto the facade of a 17th century church. The church tolls on the hour (supposedly) and the sound always washes in through my window.

My room is large and airy with big windows looking over the church. It's wooden floor boards. The room is remarkably inexpensive for where it is. I got very lucky. Out of 7 phone numbers that Xavier, from work, helped me find. This was the only one. My flatmates are Michel, a 35 year old stock-broker who has been severley house-broken and often works from home. His parter, Victoria, a immigrant from Moldavia, a tiny tin-pot state split off from the former USSR. And Frabrice, who is, a musician-cum-agricultural-engineer-cum-international relations officer. Together we share the apartment which Michel rules with an iron fist, in the nicest possible way. All the worldly modern amenities are there.

Every morning, I wake, tumble downstairs, and stroll on faded cobble-stones, past some of the nicest parts of Brussels to Central Station. I stroll past the Belgian Congress, Belgian National Library, the Art Gallery, a huge plaza with a statue of a horse and rider, of whose identity, I know not.

I take a train to the university, which is about an hour from Brussels. Half of the transit consists of a big circle getting out of the city and the other half is through the most delightful Belgian countryside. It is a montage of rolling green hills, clustered villages of aging cottages, dead threadbare trees and gentle flowing rivers. I can enjoy this view everyday, everyday that is, when the weather permits. The weather in Belgium (and all of low-land Europe at that) is a filthy overcast day with the possibility of rain. When there is a sunny day, it is so unusual that people comment on it. "It's a nice day". " is a nice day".