Back from Bruxelles

16 Sep 2005 | 402 words | brussels belgium colonialism cities

I was back in bruxelles yesterday after a way to lo long time. This city is definitely my favorite city in Europe as it manages to surprise me every time i am there, even if it is only for one rainy evening spent in an restaurant waiting for the night train to berlin (of course the fact that there actually is a night train connection to berlin makes Bruxelles stand out above such mediocre places as Amsterdam!). On the way from the restaurant to the Gare de midi i came across two remarkable things the first being a little store specialized in plastic model sets that proudly displayed a 1/35 reenactment of belgium’s not-so-glorious colonial past (please excuse the shitty quality of the night time phone cam pic):

belgians rule africans in 1/35

The second was the etablissement that i entered in order to get one last drink before boarding the train. by the outside of it (and i could not see much as it rained and my glasses were totally covered with spray water) it looked like some upscale minimalist bar: big steel framed glass windows, neutral withe lightening shining from a clean white interior with some kind of expressionistic painting on the long wall. once inside i realized that i had totally mistaken the place. instead of a bar i had entered a north african tea house and now i was getting confused and slightly hostile looks from the all male patrons. the place was unlike every tea house i have been to before. the interior design was straight from bauhaus, the espresso machines would make every coffee shop owner in berlin-mitte become jealous and there was indeed a more or less expressionist mural with a middle eastern or north african market scene on the wall facing the bar.

So instead of another drink i settled for a delicious peppermint tea had a chat with mohammed who would not believe my age and of whom in turn i would not believe that he was a student and watched a bit of al-jazeerha on the giant flat screen TV’s before heading out to catchmy train.

This is exactly why i love bruxelles so much: more often than not the visual representation of things completely defies what the way i am (we are?) conditioned….

update [27.05.06]: here is another shot of the (now slightly rearranged) window display that i took this morning: