Note: The site with pictures of the wall paintings in Brussels is at Brussel Stripstad . be. Pictures of most of these wall paintings and pictures of the statues I encountered can also be found at Beeldenstad.net.
I had been planning to take pictures of the painted walls off Brussels for ages. Now, finally, I was going to do it for real. On my own, meaning I really had complete freedom to go and visit and do whatever I liked, which is reasonable, if you realize there are some 30 official comic strip wall painters scattered all over downtown Brussels.
It also meant I was going by train. Betsy already left for South Africa three days ago and her car was already with her parents.
The train is fast, possibly faster then taking a car, but for some reason we had to switch from the double decker Dutch train to a regular Belgian train. Unsurprisingly the Belgian train was packed, having to store twice the amount of people in the same number of wagons.
With small two and three person couches, instead of regular sized seats, it meant the train was packed to the full. I couldn’t help noticing that the bulk of the passengers where noisy middle aged women with heavy suitcases. Seemingly going out for the weekend. The train felt like a hen-house. If only they were ten, hell, twenty years younger.
As I walked into Brussels north train station. The first thing I noticed was that it hadn’t changed much. From the outside, it fits in well with the other relatively new buildings in the area, but the tracks and platforms are gray, dull and, well, ugly. The narrow stairs took me down to the walkway underneath the tracks and it was here where time had stood still. The burger joints and standing bars selling beer still looked like they were stuck in 70s Germany.
How different it was inside the main entrance, at the end of the walkway. The entrance hall is big, but in the past, it was also quite empty. Now, food stalls, cafes, even a supermarket filled the hall.
It was raining heavily. But I decided to head to one of the bars which was close to the train station and dosed on my previous visit to the city. It’s a short walk, and when I arrived, I was Soaked. Then it stopped raining.
Walking around Brussels, it became obvious that the city is working on getting rid of its many city cancers, one of my favorite words in Dutch. It feels like half the city is being renovated or torn down at the moment.
The rain kept on coming in spurts the whole day. The sun and clouds seemingly fighting over who should gain control over the skies above Brussels. Surprisingly, people were still crowding the outdoor terraces when I left a theater at 10pm, even though this is done with the help of heaters. Not too surprisingly, it started pouring only seconds after I got out.
Before heading back to the hostel, I visited the second bar which was closed on my last visit. Crowded as it was, I had to sit in the back, not too far from the washrooms. Here, next to the door, was a cat. Washing himself between naps, only disturbed bi pesky guests finding it necessary to stroke the kitty or take some flash photographs. For some reason, nearly all of the bathroom visits were done by women, in couples.