1. What makes you happy in this city?
The authenticity of the Marolles district. It’s an area to experience the old Brussels folklore—at the daily flea market, in local eateries/cafés and through the genuine storefronts from bygone days.
My very recent discovery, the “Passage 125 Blaes”, is a fascinating antique shop in an extraordinary, four-storey building in the Marolles district. It is an ancient district of Brussels, with its wonderful Place du Jeu de Balle flee market, little cafes and restaurants, bands of street musicians that perform on unusual instruments here every weekend, and, of course, lots of antique shops.
When I enter this neighborhood, it feels like I’m stepping into some different dimension, with its unbelievable vibes. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe. I go there whenever I need to get some fresh wind in my head, when I feel like getting away from the rest of the world and doing some daydreaming or just having a nice Sunday brunch with friends.
2. WHAT INSPIRES YOU IN THIS CITY?
Brussels’ imperfect cityscape coupled with its weather. The view from the “Palais de Justice” stretches over the downtown area and beyond. On grey days, like in a documentary photograph, it feels like time has stopped over this city.
To my mind, temporariness is the most inspiring phenomena that can be exceptionally seen and felt in Brussels. With all its charms and downfalls, it forms the character, rhythm and face of the city. There’s always somebody coming and somebody leaving, because a big portion of the Brussels population is made up of expats from the other countries who stay here for a certain period of time to pursue their careers. It is fascinating, as one can always find oneself in a hub of fresh and new ideas, people, acquaintances, cultures and views that is being generated by this change in people. The only constant in Brussels is the city itself.
3. WHAT WORKS FOR YOU VERY WELL IN THE CITY?
Most of the neighborhoods outside of downtown have their own shopping areas, nightlife scenes and hidden cozy bars. This one is in my neighborhood and provides a nice escape from the busy city center.
It is a perfect location, in terms of traveling. London, Paris, Amsterdam, Luxemburg and most of the rest of Europe is in reach within several hour. Brussels is really well connected by rail, air and highways, so it is very convenient to travel from here to the other countries for business or leisure.
4. WHAT WOULD YOU DO BETTER?
One of the things I’d do is enforce stricter business regulation. Over the past years, I have witnessed a proliferation of kebab snacks and late-night convenience stores on main junctions and in the tourist areas of downtown. I’d like to see a more diversified assortment of stores. I think this would help improve the neighborhood for its inhabitants and make the city more attractive.
There are plenty of interesting small businesses, artisan shops, art and social initiatives in Brussels, but unfortunately if you are a newcomer and don’t have a local to show you around, you’d never know about them. The spread of information, especially in English, is a bit crummy in this area. It is a shame, because there are quite a lot of really attention-worthy spots that are missed because of that.
For example, I discovered the Vitrage artisan shop/gallery a few weeks ago, though I have been living in Brussels for a year already. I would’ve never thought that this kind of place existed in the city.
5. HOW WOULD YOU DO IT BETTER?
We have a thriving art scene, and it is true that it’s scattered all over the place and is sometimes hard to find. If I had the necessary resources, I would make an app dedicated to the free posting—along with a picture—of these events by visitors and organizers.
As Cristovao noticed, Brussels is really getting more and more crowded with late-night convenience stores and kebab places. This phenomenon has even influenced architecture in the city. All the banners, signs and display windows, have formed a totally new aesthetic.
The main idea of the collage that I made using Cristovao’s photograph is that it’s possible to promote a new variety of things using the same starting point. I mean: even keeping with the same concept of these places, there can be a lot of improvements made by changing the kinds of food, products, approaches, designs and appearances. And these changes altogether would affect and form new changes in the bigger picture.
Vote for your favorite Change of View here.