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Life imitating Art

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Monday, 24 March 2014

Life imitating Art


This weekend I allowed myself a little city break in the European capital - Brussels.  I did try and tease you a bit about it in fact if you've been following my instagram (#fs6inbxl).

Unwittingly, to some extent, this trip turned into a 'life imitating art' episode, the art, being Guze Stagno's What happens in Brussels stays in Brussels (read my review here).  Let me just summarise why:

  • Through an odd turn of events, I was 'sort of' staying at the Hotel Des Colonies - the same one which Stagno's characters slept in (I was actually staying at the Hotel Siru, but the two are interlinked and with a joint reception / breakfast area at the moment); 
  • Despite not taking a trip over to Bruges like the Stagno crowd did, I took the ultimate in tourist traps - a hop-on hop off bus ... which is ironic, seeing as I lost count of the times I've been to Brussels in the last 9 years; and
  • I finished off my stay much as the hapless group started it: lunching at L'Altro Mondo ... which did almost send me to the other world courtesy of a super-sized plate of pasta swimming in beschamel! 
Ever since I've read the book, every trip to Brussels sees me looking out for the characters described, trying to see the Capital through their eyes ... but trying my best not to behave like them! 

But besides the Stagno references, this trip was 'art-full' in another way:  I spent my Saturday morning at the recently opened fin-de-siecle museum, soaking in a variety of art nouveu and realist pieces from the late 1800s.  Once the 'traditional' art fix was had, I headed off for my regular stroll in search of street art and the murals which adorn a number of Bruxellian corners. Needless to say, my thirst for this type of art was more than quenched.  


I feel that every time I dedicate a little extra time to this city, I find myself falling more and more in love with it.  I will never love it as much as my own Valletta or adoptive Krakow - nor will it ever top my favourite cities list and topple Prague or Ljubljana from the top spots.  


But Brussles has something that very few people - at least in my line of work - see beyond the Euro-grey.  It is a vibrant city full of delightful contrasts: where the majesty of the Grand Place and the Old Town sit in a friendly arrangement with murals depicting Tin Tin and other Belgian cartoon characters as well as street art pieces by popular artists like Space Invader and less famous ones; art-nouveau avenues host contemporary luxury and high street stores; grey suits invade the lush green parks on sunny lunch-breaks. It is a city that has social problems which can be easily seen, but which I feel endorses its diversity and celebrates it - it is ultimately, the capital where all of Europe and beyond, meet. 

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