And this is what I did also when I moved to Brussels. I especially liked those 40 minutes of walking to work in the morning, regardless of the weather. Time just for myself. To observe, to discover, to remember locations to be photographed later. As it was October, I had a lot of that typical Belgian rain combined with the greyest skies I’ve ever seen and a pesky wind, that drove everybody cranky or depressed and left corpses of umbrellas with broken spokes and their skirts indecently unfurled, abandoned on sidewalks.
The amazing thing I discovered those first days is that I could take every day a different way to work (to be read: I often got lost). My neighborhood is a lovely quiet quarter with art-nouveau houses, but orientation there is so complicated, the streets have no logic, as in parallel and perpendicular. Yes, I can already hear some ironic voices saying that I have no sense of orientation, as they usually say about women.
But I think I also got lost on purpose, because, as I was walking on a street that I took the day before, something was catching my eye (should I say my photographic eye), a yellow wall on which a red ivy was climbing, highlighted by a ray of the morning sun, an oval window on whose seal was standing a small wooden sculpture and an orange pumpkin, a brick tower rising mysteriously from the morning fog, a brasserie that seemed friendly, through whose windows I had to peek, a gate with colourful frosted glass pane decorated in the typical art-nouveau style here with curled iron branches and leaves, near which an old rusted bike with flat tires was tied with an even more rustier chain, a three-storey house, really tall and narrow, in the style so common here and in the Netherlands, but this one stood out due to its enormous arched window on the second floor, with no curtains, which let the passers-by see a room like an antiquarian shop, with walls covered completely with bookshelves and a large armchair, which seemed the perfect place to read. And so on, walking and looking around I would end up in a totally unknown area, such as a deserted little street, with sleepy houses and a closed restaurant, which was called (how else?) Taciturne Wilhelm (Silent Wilhelm).
Some minutes later, when I would finish crossing my neighborhood and approach my work place, I would end up again in familiar territory, where it was impossible to get lost (at least physically): four lane streets with cars stuck in traffic, tall glass buildings filled with identical offices, aligned perfectly along the road, people in suits marching with fixed stares and headphones in their ears, until they were swallowed by one of those glass and steel monsters or a subway mouth, which was opening suddenly in the sidewalk. Then it would cross my mind (for Romanian readers: like in Cartarescu’s books) that everything that I described before was existing just in my imagination or in a dream. And then the following morning, I would try to find again the same way, the same houses, as if to convince myself that they were real.
After two weeks, I already knew that the houses with the doors and windows that I liked were in Square Ambiorix, that the brasserie was called “Dreams ” (not so surprising after all), that the wall with ivy belonged to a kinder garden and near that was the cheapest supermarket in the neighborhood. One could say that it takes so little time until “new” becomes “known”. And then my half hour of magic in the morning was gone…
If any of you who are reading this post are living in Brussels, I would like to know which is your favorite/special spot?
How about people leaving in other cities, do you have a favorite place in your home city that is not necessarily touristically famous, but it somehow feels like you discovered it? MYRCAC742W6C