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Brussels, the city I love

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Brussels, a city  i love!

Chocolate maker

Because I don't live in a city which beauty is so obvious, because its hidden charms are so moving, because it is certainly one of the most architecturally destroyed cities in Europe, because you can hear six different languages at each street corner, because it is, if you look at it closely, just an assemblage of villages, reassuring villages, because it has no pretension at all and stays, after all, very shy. I love Brussels!!
I know it has been eviscerated, that it is merely the shadow from what it was in the past, the "brusselisation" is become a term to characterise a way of destroying the urban site, I know that political, economic and financial interest were at stake, and if that wouldn't have happened, Brussels would be a dignified rival to Barcelona today. 

Chocolate making

Already in 1841, Gerard de Nerval wrote: " Brussels is beginning to be divided in the high and lower city which will end up in a miscommunication. But I know also that a discreet charm will always survive, nice buildings, hidden parks and gardens. I dare to be convinced that, Baudelaire excepted, I know NOT ONE foreigner, living in Brussels, that isn't happy and doesn't like this city".
Who doesn't know the anecdote of all foreign correspondents or European diplomats, staff and employees saying: "We wept when we were assigned to Brussels, but we wept even more when we had to leave it."

Chocolate making

Quality of life has no price in Brussels, and the ambience in its public places like cafes and restaurants is unique. Let's be honest: the houses are large, pretty, and comfortable: because the weather, usually gray and sad, is not very inviting for a walk. In Brussels, you move with a precise and hurried plan. Traffic jams, daily food for the citizens, didn't discourage them from taking the car, so it is at home, in their own interior, that they take the time to stroll, invite with splendor and refinement. In Brussels, the ambience is completely interiorised. So I'm writing about a quiet city, easy to carry on my shoulder, human, full of good nature and kindness. I think I could live here, even without having the impression being there. 
Brussels is not possessive, she doesn't impose herself, she will not stand in your way. It's like a haven, a "port d'attache", a transit room, which will, despite all her efforts, always be a bit grey, tarnished in harmony with the dominant color of her sky. 
But I like the lady, her untidy charm, her disarming touch, being squeezed between her linguistic quarrels. 
Ambiguous city due to the complex relation that people have with her: certain days, she is adored, other days she is hated, depending her character. When I return from Madrid, I ignore her, and when I return from Hong-Kong, I'm happy like a child! But she is all except a city without hope. We have the feeling that it wouldn't take much to save her. Then from a lying city, she would rise and stand.

As my second home, Brussels, is very difficult to define. Bastard, she is very individualistic, just like her inhabitants and their houses. Start to talk about Brussels, and you'll will often begin by saying mean and bad things about her. And then, even without realizing, after a couple of minutes, you start to understand how much positive elements there are, beautiful, undiscovered, hidden treasures and the more you talk the more admirative your conversation. Geographic hazard at the turning of a corner, the aspect of an unknown street, this world opens slowly to figure finally at the hit parade of international cities. Maybe she finally got back where she belonged, just finished playing the provincial little girl, coquettish, all she had pretty, and all her alluring attractions. Baffling city, sometimes absurd "business minded and mundane", like the writer Marguerite Yourcenar denounced her, "the passion and snobbism to acquire a name and a title, flourishes here like nowhere else."
Brussels! The unexpected! A city where nothing is acquired definitively, where everything is possible. And a city, juts in between German and Latin mentality. This city, center of European politics, of which people talk a lot but nobody really takes the time to know her, that we let pronounce "Brukselles", the French way, and of which only the vegetal charms are praised....
Effervescence, turmoil....In 2001, Brussels feels summoned, like many others. But she has a pretext and she cannot miss the opportunity. She gets the label of "Capitale Européenne de la Culture". She moves, lives, interrogates, and finally is aware of her wealth, her situation, her international neutrality and cosmopolitism. 
Her unavoidable bars, "La Meilleure Jeunesse", 45 rue de l'Aurore, her original boutiques, "Terre d'Ivoire"1000b chaussée de Waterloo, "Graphie Sud", 15 place Brugman, galleries and unusual libraries (Arthus, Balthazar, Chapitre XII), a world famous opera house, affirms Brussels slowly as an adult city again. Houses are constantly bought, transformed, refurbished and bets are placed on the best locations since 20 years.
That's why new centuries are made for! And let's not forget that tomorrow, we will all be citizens, and should be prepared for it.
Small green city, distressing, it is full of qualities and unexplored possibilities. But at the contrary of her big European sisters, she is not a city you can grasp at once. She is secret, complex with a much more difficult approach. It's there that all her wealth is, and that cannot be unveiled to a first time visitor at once. If one day or another, you should go and stay, live in Brussels for a while, don't forget to take a copy of "Le Petit Prince", by Saint-Exupery, in your luggage. The novel will make you understand how to accost, how to tame, because Brussels has to be tamed: now that's a word that fits her as a glove!