Jun 032009
 

Today was my first full day in Belgium and I’m pleased to say that the glorious sunny weather we’ve been having in Scotland (seriously) has followed me over here. Which was just as well as my first job/task was to negotiate my way into Brussels and get my bearings.

I also had another excuse to go into Brussels – shopping. When I packed my case it ended up being over the weight allowance. So I began removing stuff and in my jubilation at getting the bag under the weight limit, I forgot to repack my shoes. So, today’s shopping trip was to get a pair of smart shoes.

Anyway, in case you thought I was already ‘in Brussels’, I’m currently staying in greater Brussels, in an area called Zaventem. I move in to the centre in a couple of weeks. So, at the moment, I need to take a train to the city centre. Evan (one half of the lovely young couple I’m staying with, Trisha being the other) showed me around Zaventem, gave me the drill on using the train, tickets, metro, buses, etc and then pointed me in the direction of Brussels. I managed to get off at the correct station and then stood around for a while figuring out where I was on the map before heading to the ‘Grand Place’ and, from there, the main shopping area. What surprised me was just how compact the city centre is. There seems to be so much crammed in to a very small area. The other thing I noticed was how much graffiti there was, which was a real shame as there are so many striking buildings in Brussels. I also noticed how expensive stuff was, but that’s the downside of working in a capital city, I guess.

What I found fascinating about the city though was how ‘compartmentalised’ it seemed. You found little blocks of music shops, or there was a group of streets which were all seafood restaurants, dozens of them all side-by-side. There was one indoor shopping precinct that seemed to be full of shops that sold nothing but leather jackets – and it claimed to have 102 shops in the precinct! One of the main shopping streets is just packed end-to-end with clothes and accessories shops. Since I was looking at shoe shops I couldn’t help but notice that there were several shops, all of the same name, all within a few hundred yards of each other. I suppose it makes shopping easier if all the same types of places are together.

Anyway, I didn’t get lost and even managed to get the correct train home despite it being late and changing platforms. I didn’t take any photos though. I thought I would be too busy figuring out where I was to be bothered about sightseeing, but I’ll bring my camera along next time and get some photos uploaded.

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