Date: 19 October 2018
Location: snuggled into my seat on the Friday evening Eurostar, wine to hand.
Last time I went to Brussels I was too swept up to write anything more than a few words. I’m sorry Brussels. You deserved better. This time, I will be better.
So, I wrote the above lines on a Eurostar to Brussels two weeks ago. The space between that paragraph and this was all I wrote whilst actually in Brussels.
In my defence, it was a group trip (William From The Inbetweeners and two of his friends) and, further, what do you do in Brussels? It is not a city made for introspection and journaling. It is a city made for aggressively sampling Trappist beers.
It is also a city that has a tiny bit of European charm — but not a lot. Perhaps that’s why I skimmed over my visit with xx last year? There really just isn’t much to see. This view is strongly affirmed on Saturday as the four of us, ‘fresh’ from a great brunch at Street Pecker (hi waffle-based eggs benedict), set off to see the sights. We are ‘fresh’ not fresh because, whilst we’re now fed and caffeinated, last night took its toll. The 6pm (BYO) Eurostar is a dangerous thing, as is the local late night bottle shop. We all slept fitfully and not for long enough to metabolise the alcohol. Anyway: to the sights.
We start with the Grand Place (gorgeous, regal, a Forrest of selfie sticks) and conclude with the Mannequin Pis (cute, tiny, disappointing). There is nought a tourist sight in between.
We do then wander old town for a while, as if to soak up the local culture that way. However, it doesn’t take long to decide that the local culture is best hoovered up directly and we head to the infamous Delirium Cafe to wipe away some hours with aforementioned Trappist beers. The cafe lives up to its name and, by the time we head back out in search of moules frites for dinner (ingestible local culture) and find it at Chez Keon, a cavernous local institution, we are just a tiny bit sozzled.
From there we taxi across town to the main event and the reason we’re all here: Bloc Party, playing their first album, Silent Alarm. This does not disappoint. The set is beautifully put together, starting slow and building to their gutsy anthems. It is everything that is good.
Afterwards, we make the deadly mistake of going back to Delirium to debrief. It is everything that is bad.
Suffice to say that Sunday morning fives me, hungover, reporting the theft of my iPhone to there (ridiculously attractive) Belgian police, along with a handful of others in similar predicaments.
Travel insurance, people. Travel insurance and coconut water and strong coffees are an adult traveller’s best friends.