What do you do when you are in Belgium for a couple of days?
You rush through Brussels. You window shop overpriced, but delicious, Belgian chocolate.
Neuhaus for example. It’s called ‘Neuhaus’ meaning ‘new house’ in German, because a few boxes of Neuhaus chocolates can buy you a new house.
You drink Geuze, a sour beer you can’t find anywhere else. The taste requires a little getting used to. Some beer expert told me you can’t find it anywhere else cause the yeast in Brussels is so unique that it can only be brewn here.
You go to a Cathedral of course. From the time Belgians still had some form of spirituality, no matter how formal. And you hear a Slovak say: ‘Such beautiful churches and so little faith here in Belgium.’
You skip the overpriced double decker tour bus. 25 euro per person. Total rip off.
You get a little queasy looking at the prices on the menus in the restaurants. And you wait to order food back in Aalst. Same restaurants, same dishes, but slightly cleaner and a lot cheaper. Half of Brussels is a tourist trap. Or meant for people with overpaid jobs in some Parliament or other official institution.
The next day you go to Oostende and Gent. You go to one of those bars where they have 280 beers. You pick the most deviant one. Kwak. A beer that comes in such an expensive glass you need to give up a shoe. The shoe goes into a basket. The basket gets tied to the ceiling. Apparently nobody counts on a clever thief with an extra pair of shoes in his backpack. The glass will set you back 90 euro if you break it.
You eats French fries every day until you can’t stand the sight of them anymore. You eat enough steak to load up on proteins and iron for the rest of the summer.
In Oostende you walk along the paved coastline which inevitably smells like the magical triangle of a shatteringly attractive woman. Most likely non-Belgian, cause in the couple days I was in Belgium I saw no attractive women. NOT ONE! I swear. I don’t even know how this is possible. Ok, I saw some, but they were Slovak. You can shoot me down as a superifical idiot again. I am sure handing you the ammunition.
I am overpaid (relatively speaking), overbored, oversexed and over here, in Slovakia, this sparsely populated fledgling country with which I like to maintain a deeply passionate love-hatred relationship. My relationship to Belgium is more like an ex you can’t avoid and try to stay on speaking terms with. And if you squint your eyes and look at her from the side, you can sometimes admit, ok, she does look kinda good.
I went to Brussels wearing a T-shirt with Slovak symbols. Slovaks always react to this. One Slovenka asked to take her picture and one greeted me. Both in the Cathedral. The place most likely to attract Slovaks. Obviously. Cathedrals are to Slovaks what Frituren (those little booths where you can buy French fries) are to Belgians. By the way, in Belgium we don’t call them French fries. We call them ‘frieten’. If they wouldn’t exist our national life expectancy would rise by 5 years.
Of course, there’s plenty more you can do in Belgium. My family on my mother’s side is particularly fond of food and restaurants, especially when the food is served in sufficient quantities to guarantee a Breughel painting. I am more like my family on my father’s side. I prefer Bosch situations over Breughel situations.
Am glad to be back in Slovakia. Even though it’s 36 degrees here and the heat is more sticky than the heat in Belgium. Plus there are Slovenky everywhere to make this heat even worse.
My incomparable mum. The most loving, most generous, most open-minded woman I have ever met.