Some things you just can’t leave behind…
20 years ago I lived in Leuven as a final year English degree student. I may have spent the year in a chocolate-fuelled stupor, powered solely by Manon Café chocolates from Leonidas, but it was a time of friendship and fun that has left me with an unconditional love for Belgium.
10 years ago Mr GLV had his stag do in Brussels. He was fuelled by a different Belgian product. Less praline, more Trappiste in nature. His love of Belgium is just as strong though – there’s just something very special about the place and the people.
And so, although more subconscious than deliberate, we marked those special anniversaries with a trip to Brussels.
It was another special trip. 4 great days of wistful wandering and people-watching, pâté and praliné, grazing and geuze.
België is known for its beer. Mr GLV and I have a penchant for drinking it. Newly opened Gist was fab, but the beer highlight was a trip to Lot, just 12mins by train to Drie Fonteinen, where the ‘lambic dream’ is more than just a vision. It’s a passion, evoked beautifully on a fascinating, thought-provoking tour by retired owner, Armand.
The chocolate highlights involved a return trip to Leonidas (nostalgic purposes only, of course) and a visit to the praline shrine of Mary where it would have been a shame not to pick up a truly pretty box aptly named Rosine.
And so to vintage. It was Mr GLV who found out about the Brussels Vintage Market at Les Halles Saint-Géry. First Sunday of the month (and the last day of our break). What a treat! A beautiful red brick building with 3 floors of vintage loveliness, and even more on rails around the outside.
Bags, shoes, more bags, more shoes! A DJ playing top tunes and table service outside. The sun splitting the rocks and visitors rifling through boxes of bijoux and heaving hangers. It was fantastic. Just one downside – hand luggage only. But vintage brooches are small and relatively weightless aren’t they?
Two very pretty pieces came back to Belfast (€20 in total), along with a new panda badge I felt needed a Northern Irish home. Some things you just can’t leave behind.
And on that note, I really can’t leave Belgium behind. It shaped me. Out of chocolate, or at least that’s how it felt after a year 🙂
It welcomed me. Allowed me to breathe.
Made me feel at home.