Ahhh, so many things to do here in Brussels with plenty of time…
It’s easy to find oneself in a bubble, a time warp, a place inside that stands still among the busy activity of those around me who have somewhere to be at a given time. I’m staying in a neighborhood far from the tourist areas in the university district of the neighborhood called Ixelles. I have watched the place go from chilly cloudy days with some rain to a heatwave that struck bringing 90 degree heat (30 celsius) with high humidity. In the blink of an eye, one finds lovely outdoor furniture on every corner with 3 or more umbrella tables ready for customers who wish to quench their thirst. This, mind you, in the places where everyone who lives here does their everyday living.
When you travel to the tourist area as you can see in this magnificent panoramic photo taken by my friend Hugh in the Grand’ Place (aka Grote Markt in Dutch), you’ll find plenty of these types of places lined up everywhere. What I find remarkable, they exist in the places where people live as well. This signifies something very different than what we have in the U.S. – small comfortable resting stops with a unique flair that beckon one to slow down and take a break. You can argue that we have Starbucks and Jamba Juice et al, sometimes with tables outside, but are those unique? No. They are la même chose répétée. (I can hear my Aunt asking “Honey, what does that mean? All of these strange words in your writing. I don’t understand.”) It means the same thing repeated. Why would I want to go into the same looking place over and over throughout my country? I eat at one Cracker Barrel in the far reaches of the south and walk into the same Cracker Barrel several states north of the deep south and they look exactly the same and offer the same menu…no change.
I love the differences between each little cafe and sidewalk bar/restaurant. Everything is unique and easy in the neighborhoods where people hustle and flow. What they know how to do that Americans who work in the cities can learn from: rest, take a break, enjoy life for a minute even when work beckons. They take their pause for lunch and it’s an hour-and-a-half, minimum.
The heatwave came and went in one day bringing thunderous showers by its end. It felt remarkable for someone who lives in an area of the U.S. struck by drought. Rain, beautiful rain, I love it.
Voilà tout ce qu'elle a écrit