What I truly enjoy when travelling is to meet up with or visit old friends. This last week I got to spend with Meike, who is doing an internship in Brussels. After living together for half a year it is odd to suddenly be only long distance friends and thus amazing to meet up again.
As an intern Meike works alongside a lot of other young Germans to plan a conference for young journalists. But being so used to people speaking German around me from my stay in Madrid I hardly noticed how often conversations would go on in German. It helped that they all had excellent English skills – much better than myself – and were used to a English speaking working environment.
Meike’s colleagues also proved out to be great fun and Brussels is to the establishment what Sunny Beach is to the sun-tanned teenager. A place for partying and networking. I was introduced to a fast paced Brussels, where bureaucrats were dancing to the Grease soundtrack at Ralph’s Bar, where political parties held large techno parties and where I had to spend many a morning on the couch in Meike’s office because I wasn’t used to the pace and was left with one too many hangovers.
The atmosphere was great and the feeling of having so many different nationalities and cultures working together. I constantly felt drawn to the environment and to the place and people. Constantly wondering if perhaps one day, I might find my future in Brussels.
Apart from the abnormal amounts of alcohol and many types of parties, I got to not only explore the office couch but also Brussels.
It is a fascinating city which while it is known as the centre of Europe is also the very essence of a split nation. As a state Belgium is split into to fractions – or nations – the French part and the Flemish. While Brussels belongs to the French part, it is surrounded by the Flemish.
It fascinates me how Belgium can exist with two distinctly different nations, cultures – even languages. Belgium is not a historical nation state, but closer to a compromise between France and the Netherlands that they should not have a border thus creating a buffer state.
Add to this the entire third part which is are the European institutions and the multicultural environment surrounding them. Belgium is by all standards a curious country and definitely worth a visit.
Personally, I fell in love with the area St. Gery and the entire café- and restaurant life there. I also both enjoyed a quiet moment with Janneke Pis and Zinneke Pis in order to feel a bit off the beaten Manneke Pis path. And then I got to eat moules frites until I fainted.
Thank you my beautiful Meike and greetings to all your crazy friends in Brussels. I hope your conference will be a success.
Lot’s of love