Belgium this time changed my opinion of some of the cities. Brussels didn’t seem like the haughty, scary city of my last visit which was full of police sirens. Though it is still the same Paris-wannabe it was. Even the Manneken Pis makes the common traveler feel like the statue is too small, just like the painting of Monalisa. But there is so much of Manneke Pis you can take. And that Janneken Pis, the little girl’s statue has to stay behind the bars in a ‘shady’ corner. The bars are to keep off vandalism Okay, so how different is that from a woman locked up inside a house in a traditional image? But then travelling also tells you that stereotypes are the same all around the world.
The Atomium pushed us to check-in on Facebook every step of the way, even the guidebook kept talking about how many pages refer to Automium through a Google search. (They should be happy, I’m adding a page to their list.) But Mini-Europe was fun enough, and I ended up making the list of places to visit next, they did have an unusual mix.
Brugge had the same old cold winds, but sipping on Belgian hot chocolate through the walks parallel to those beautiful canals helps.
Antwerp was surprisingly memorable. I had no expectations (that almost always works in case of people, places, books and movies) and it opened up a lot of doors to new experiences. As a group of Indians (despite being dressed in conventionally branded European outfits, being clean, not-loud, willing to spend money) we were unceremoniously stopped from entering a cafe. We temporarily licked our wounds along with McDonalds Macarons (yes, they serve it there, just like Paris) I also spilled a huge takeaway cup of hot chocolate all over the floor out of carelessness. That cafe owner might have foreseen this. Any way my companions were gracious enough to let that one pass.
It is surprising how a break of a couple of days makes you feel like you will be relaxed and rejuvenated at the end of it, and end up needing a break from the break. Belgium this time has left me a bit worked up again, but it seems like a good mood for the kind of writing work I’ve in pipeline at the moment.
The weather and I were both surly through the entire Easter vacation, and still we came back with a bag full of memories and chocolates. No, I’m not sharing the Belgian chocolates.