Thursday, August 12, 2010

My first hour in Belgium

It was July of 2009. My fiancé had already been on multiple visits to my home above the Polar Circle, but it was only then that I finally had the means to purchase a ticket of my own.

After nearly four hours of flying south, the plane descended from the clouds and I gazed upon the green flatness of Flanders for the first time in my life.

Stretched out far beneath the belly of the Brussels Airlines jet was a vast plain of farmland, villages, towns and cities, all teeming with life that scared the crap out of me.

My mind was racing. What kind of people live in those houses? Who are inside those cars I see crawling along the highways? Where are they going to? I felt like an alien visitor looking down at the Earth for the first time. I started to realize that I would find a lot more than what Wikipedia could tell me.

Stepping off the jet bridge and into the terminal, my ears were tickled by the unfamiliar feeling of not understanding a word of what people were saying around me. Flemish and French (might as well have been Mandarin) was attacking me from all sides, and my brain repelled it like hail on a car’s windshield. Still, it was more exhilarating than terrifying. The foreign tongues reinforced my sense of adventure. I wore a secret grin on my face as I followed the arrow signs toward the exit, and my love.

terminal at Brussels Airport

While journeying down a long tunnel on a moving sidewalk, a blur of colors on the wall to my right caught my eye. It was a thermographic projection of the body heat radiating from the people passing by it. Suddenly I saw myself not as a thinking human of flesh and blood, but as a big, red, yellow, faceless blob sliding across the wall. This means something, I thought.

Later, the path snaked through a multitude of cafés and shops serving the two flavors Belgium is most known for: chocolate and beer. The Belgians have yet to find a way to successfully combine the two.
I was soon reunited with my luggage and, almost immediately thereafter, my fiancé. It was a tender moment best kept within one’s heart. We took the stairs down to a well-lit train station with ornamented columns of gray concrete, and minutes later found ourselves on a train to Halle.

My fiancé told me not to look out the window as we passed through Brussels. She explained that this was not the nice part of the city. I looked anyway, and saw millions upon millions of buildings, stretching into eternity from the graffiti-covered walls bordering the train tracks. Here and there I spotted great belfries and golden domes, but most of the city seemed to be made up of clusters of smaller brick buildings. Some of the graffiti along the railroad was spectacular, such as a giant spider occupying the entire wall of one of the houses. Some of the buildings were also spectacularly rundown, giving credit to my fiancé’s remark. I was anxious to get even closer.

Brussels, capital of Europe

At this point I was merely a tourist, free to study the city the way you gaze into a fish tank to spot the different creatures living inside it. I would comfortably observe and enjoy this strange country and then return safely to my homeland with some nice memories. No harm done, no big deal.

A year later, I jumped into the fish tank.

Photos: Wikimedia


  1. Hey,Guy what going on over there?

  2. Hey! It's cold here and the trains are falling off the tracks, but Christmas is coming ( and everyone's excited about what's on TV.

    What's going on over there? How did you find my blog?

  3. It too much rainning all the time here.Merry Christmas and new year.
    I can find any thing on the internet.

  4. Sorry about all the rain. At least you don't have snow ;)

    Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you too!

  5. But winter you stay in the house longger right?Norway it too cold that take time to adapt myself overthere,I guess.

  6. Right you are! People tend to spend most of the day indoors, especially in the North during the sunless months. Belgium is a big change for me ;)

  7. Ae..Belgium I think it the better choice for me to visit because it a little warm.But Thailand right now it good weather not hot or cold but someday had a rain.