It was Brusseling when I arrived in Belgium – that misty drizzle that never quite settles. I wondered if I’d have the same feeling about Belgium as did for France, but whether the animosity had been dissolved by the positive experiences I’d had there, or because there was so much more to my Belgian history than Marie, I was happy to be back.
I avoided the Grand Place on the first night in case they’d be doing the light show – laser colours on old stone buildings don’t work for me – and went straight to join my old writing group. Forteen people had turned out for the occasion. I only knew 4 of them, so I can’t claim they were all there for me, but it was daunting to read in front of so many people again. At least the feedback was generally positive.
I did visit the Grand Place the next day, hoping it wouldn’t have lost its charm. It hadn’t. Despite the grey sky and spray on my face, I couldn’t help smiling as soon as I saw the huge Hotel de ville. I can’t imagine future generations feeling the same about any of the Sydney Opera House or the Gugenheim, let alone the standard buildings that go up around the world these days.
In the end, the rain got worse to the point that I needed a rain coat (an event that I only recall occuring twice in the three years I lived here) and I decided to head north to meet up with my old colleagues for drinks and a hearty Belgian meal. Not stoemp or beer rabbit this time, but a bowl of beef stew flavoured with beer and the traditional side dish of frites.
Then next day began the long haul home. It was brusseling when I landed in Sydney.