#bruxellesmabelle



This is one of the hashtags which I use quite profusely on instagram, together with #welovebrussels, every time I share a photo of the city I currently call home.


Sometimes I feel there is a huge misconception about the Belgian capital, especially when people just visit for a few hours and all they see is the airport, their hotel room, some badly lit conference room in the European quarter and the roads in between from a taxi window if they choose surface transport. I used to be one of those visitors but almost as of day one - many, many moons ago - I looked up and saw the well-preserved Art Nouveau friezes framing house windows snug in between glass and concrete office buildings. I looked around and found myself on the magnificent medieval Grand Place which keeps taking my breath away even if I'm just crossing quickly to move from one of its off-shooting side streets to another. I opened my eyes and came across a mural with the recognisable figures of Tintin and Captain Haddock, and another with Spirou and yet another with my beloved Smurfs, a fixture in my childhood. I walked across the streets, aligned with trees which turn from emerald to amber to bare yet still beautiful in winter, and lead to parks and small gardens which give the city a green lung. Each neighbourhood buzzes with its own character and idiosyncracies.

Yes, the weather may suck some of the days - it's as grey as they make it out to be. And last winter was harsh as most other places in Europe. But when the weather is good, it's glorious. Those Magritte skies are for real. And of course, there are societal problems and my move here coincided with one of the darkest times Brussels had to go through in recent years. But one thing I learnt from the people around me - the whole panoply of cultures that live in this city - is resilience and love for life and the beauty that is in everyday. You can't have a rainbow without a little rain.


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