Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Brussels - ugly in a cute way

It's been almost a year since I've moved to Brussels. I still find it hard to believe I'm here for so long already and even harder how easy it was for me to get used to the Brussels kind of life. After getting over the initial schock of total bureaucratic chaos  and lousy public transport services I could focus on nicer things the city has to offer. I mean why bother with small details when you've got fries, chocolade, beer and waffles, right?

For quite some time, I really disliked Brussels and its Eurocrat structures, pricy shopping facilities and endless numbers of people in suits, that seem like faceless clones. It was nothing like Berlin at all, it felt cold and alien. Not knowing any French doesn't help either.

But then one day I was walking past the Palace of Justice, having a nice overview of the city center, with all of the 100 architectural styles squashed in a tiny area. Traditional buildings, gothic style buildings, ugly buildings, glass building, socialist style buildings, everything seems just thrown in as if photshoped in some kind of tetris game.

All of those buildings didn't really fit together, but there they were, proudly shining in all their ugliness. And then it struck me that this is exactly as my life: chaos of bits and pieces, puzzles connected together by some invisible string even I don't always understand. They don't look like they fit together, still here they are. It was then when I decided to give Brussels another chance. Sure, it's ugly and chaotic, but at least it's honest.

Since then I've discovered many hidden treasures of the city: great parks, amazing cultural happening, libraries and archives that I've always wished they existed, cool cinema that plays silent movies with live piano, cool traditional pubs with most obscure non industrial beers you can drink while nibbling on cheese dipped in mustard and celery salt (the Belgian way) Besides this Brussels has really strong multi-cultural vibe and cousine that never seizes to surprise.

After a while I discovered I actually like Brussels. Sure it's different from what I was used to, but at the same time it has a lot to offer. And for the time living here, I'll sure try to discover as much as possible.

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