Preface: I decided to take the time to visit some friends in Brussels in November. The flights are generally quite cheap so I only booked it about two weeks in advance. By the time my departure rolled around I had a lot of people saying I probably should go because of the Paris bombing, 13th of November. I consulted the friends I was staying and decided to go along anyway.
This was my second time visiting Brussels, and possibly my first ever where I left Ireland-
and the weather was worse where I arrived!
I arrived Thursday evening and was met by my friend at le Berlaymont after getting the bus from the airport. Their first words to me were “We’re on level four alert at the moment.”
“Level four of how many?”
After which we scurried back to the apartment in the rain and caught up that evening. I amused myself for the morning of Friday while both my friends worked. Luckily Brussels has an abundance of lovely architecture and trains.
That evening we popped briefly into Théâtre Royal de Toone, a bar and puppetry theatre/museum, which my friend is very fond of. When I visited previously I had missed the chance to see a show here. We couldn’t go this evening but decided we would at the weekend.
The bar also has cats which is a huge bonus in my books.
Brussels was well on its way to becoming festival at the point. They were in the midst of decorating their tree in la Grand Place, soldiers in tow. Sadly I was a week early and missed their winter market.
We took a casual stroll around Saturday and I purchased all the chocolate and Speculose biscuits I could conceivably fit in my bag. The metro was out of service but this didn’t affect us. We started listening in to RTÉ as friends started sending us messages asking were we okay. We decided to visit Toone to see ‘Le Docteur Jekyll et Mister Hyde’. We got fruit beer before seating ourselves in the auditorium which is filled with marionettes from previous plays. My French isn’t great but the story was pretty clear.
We decided to get pizza on the way back to the apartment and encountered an armoured vehicle.
That evening I had begun to get messages asking me how we were getting on with curfews and being made stay at home. We had only heard that a few people had stayed at home, and the only thing we had been warned about was going to places with large crowds (like matches or concerts).
On Sunday many things were closed, as is the fashion in much of mainland Europe. We did visit a church though, and then found a café and a comic book shop which were open (Brussels has a lot of great comics).
Brussels is a lovely place to visit, especially in summer. Though were it not to see friends, it would not be high on my list of places to revisit as I do find it quite bland.
Monday I returned to Ireland and reassured many people on my return that I hadn’t been forced to stay indoors, and any indoorsing had been voluntary and involved games of Star Realms.