I know this is a bit late, but the bombings that occurred in Brussels last week made me flinch and grind my teeth with anger. This is not how Belgium should become a household place name, it’s not how people should hear of Brussels or see its architecture, beauty and culture. I’m sad to see it infected with such bile, such spiteful and devastating action; that these extremists who dare to call themselves righteous have invaded a place that is precious to me.
Brussels was the first and last stop on my tour around Belgium, and I was baffled that it wasn’t a better known city. Brussels is beautiful, its Grand Place took my breath away, its plethora of museums, galleries and cathedrals meant that I could spend every day exploring something new. I didn’t know what to take a picture of first, so I took too many pictures of everything. I was just so impressed at every building I saw. I ate a waffle smothered in chocolate, I ate a cone of strawberries covered in chocolate, and each morning I ate toast smothered in chocolate. I think I spent the entire trip on one long sugar high.
Belgium in general and Brussels in particular seemed to value beautiful parks, which I happily got lost in. The Atomium is an incredible structure, when you step inside you’re transported to the opening credits of classic Doctor Who or the inside of those glowing jellyfish that live in the deep sea.
When I go back and read over my blog posts of Brussels, I can’t help but feel a chill when my past self writes about the Metro, and visiting the Parliamentarium and the European District. I can’t let those places be tainted for me, because then the bombers have won. I guess I wanted to write this to show that Brussels isn’t all about those attacks, the ‘terrorist cells’ that seem to have congealed in Belgium. For years I’ve been nagging my parents to visit this adorable, charming and pretty little country and I will continue to do so because Belgium deserves to be admired.
I think that most of the human race has the right attitude towards these extremist attacks. We mourn the loss, condemn the attackers, then defiantly carry on with our daily lives. I hope that people will still visit Brussels, refuse to give in to the fear and just experience what an incredible place it really is. It remains the most picturesque city I’ve ever visited, and the rest of Belgium is well worth a look too; Ghent and Bruges with their canals and their midges and their cobbled streets; Antwerp with its cycle lanes, bold architecture and massive zoo; Ypres with its gentle and melancholic history, and Liege with its winding streets and Roman ruins.
The division between Flemish and French areas in Belgium makes the country’s culture rich, eclectic and different in each and every city and town.