Nom de Plumage

June 28, 2013

Is Brussels The Ugliest City?

Filed under: Diary,Solo Travelling,Travel Journal — nomdeplumage @ 3:31 pm
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Well, it most certainly isn’t the prettiest, nor is it the most easiest city to navigate. I arrived in Brussels about 6pm with a map giving me directions to my hostel in Flemish. But when I exit the train station and start walking, all the street signs are in French, and the two did not correlate. I stood in the street confused and bewildered about how I was to find my hostel when nothing made sense. I wasted about an hour before I could take it no more and went to the taxi stand. The taxi driver was very rude and made it evident that he looked down upon women and especially solo women traveller’s. He was Muslim and refused to help me get my luggage in his car boot and then he refused me the front seat of the car. I have travelled now to many countries and met many people of different nationalities and religious beliefs, but never did I receive such rude treatment. I had to bite my tongue and be thankful that he was taking me to my hostel.

Up until this point, I had no idea that Brussels is labelled the ‘ugliest city’ and by the locals nonetheless. At my hostel and even within the brochures of the city, it definitely states it clearly. This statement has certainly piqued my interest and I wasted no time to explore. In all fairness, Brussels is divided into two halves and each half is invariably different from the other. The predominant part and the one associated with the European Council, is definitely clean and a nice part of the city. It is the part that I enjoyed the most and there are hints of classic old European city style buildings and streets. But the other side, is the side that I found truly ugly and very intriguing. Rubbish lines the streets, something that I only saw in Naples; and the overall look and feel of the place is very dirty and uncomfortable. I did explore and it is predominately part of the city that is populated with foreigners.

The city centre is a maze of narrow streets lined with shops and cafe’s and it was actually a relief to see that there is some promising aspects to this place. Chocolate shops rule and for me personally – heaven. I love all things chocolate and no wonder, considering I work in a chocolate shop back home. It is always refreshing to see how the master’s produce and sell their creations and I know that while I am here, I will take every advantage to indulge in my greatest weakness. Let me not forget the beer. I am not a beer drinker, wine is more to my taste, but while I was living in Germany that changed and I came to enjoy German beer. I have always known the Belgium reputation for their beer. They drink it as we would drink coke or coffee, but never to get intoxicated, just to enjoy. There are so many beer producing places, bars, restaurants etc, that sell a wonderful and diverse range of beer, that I had to join in and partake in this tradition. I was never disappointed and enjoyed the many varied flavours of beer. My personal favourites are the Krieg (cherry) and Krystal (a light beer).

I have made a new friend, an older woman from England with the wonderful name Cherry. What I love about her is her quirkiness and zest for life and it is refreshing to me a female solo traveller who knows how to enjoy herself. We get along very well and make plans to visit Brugge tomorrow. Very excited.



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