Friday, July 10, 2009

To Make You Miss Brussels

Dear all Belgian Expat Friends Who Have Already Repatriated Back Home,
We miss you here! Don't you miss us?!?! And even more than us don't you miss construction in Brussels?
I know you wake every morning pining get in a tiny car to weave and wind around in futile attempts to detour through traffic so the city can replace cobblestones in the ground. I declare that Brussels cuts up more roads all at the same time and leaves them open than anywhere else on Earth! This mess has been in front of the CENTRAL STATION for over a month now! I still can't believe this is the first impression this lovely city gives to so many leaving the main station. Connor of course LOVES the big pile of dirt!

And around the corner from us in Saint Catherine they have pulled up the entire street that is a main artery to replace cobblestones. It is a job done by hand - each stone, one at a time. So far, this is what they have to show for a month of work!

And I hate to tell our Grand Sablon friends that their old 'hood isn't so "grand" at the moment. This long gash in the street leading up to the main roundabout is tragic. Want to take bets on how long it takes to complete this job?

It will probably take as long as it took to install this art (?) installation of flags right at that same Sablon curve. We watched them install the yellow poles for 8 months and at long last I am happy to report those random poles are now flagpoles. I think it is supposed to be art, but who knows?!? The turquoise and blue flags are indeed festive especially when they wave but just not sure it was worth the 8 months of one lane traffic.

But before you go and get too cynical with me on the pace of progress in Brussels - I have to redeem our beloved cobblestoned city! As we were photographing the construction chaos we passed a flower shop on that same Sablon curve. Connor was singing at the top of her lungs which cracked up a Belgian flower shop owner when we passed by. She loves to belt out her ABCs and other tunes in a booming melody! We stopped to chat and admire the shop owner's bright, chipper sunflowers while we chuckled at Connor's tunes. The owner then reached into his sunflower bunch and insisted that Connor have one. It was so kind and touching - right in the moment of my Brussels pessimism about the construction. Connor thought she had won the lottery with that flower. The shop owner spoke not a bit of English so we communicated our thanks in French and smiled the entire way home.

1 comment:

Shannon, Tony, Grayson & Max said...

Funny - nothing has changed (and never will I'm sure). When we arrived in Brussels in 2006 Place Flagey was a construction mess - - and it still was in 2008 when we left. I'd bet real euros it's still a mess :)