Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bye Bye, Brussels

Here I sit, sipping on a St Feuillien and missing Brussels already, though I'm still here.

But tonight when the 9:37 train to Paris pulls out, my time in Brussels will officially be over.

I remember when B got the job offer and we decided to move here, and I thought something to the effect of.... well, it's not Paris and it's not London and it's not Amsterdam, but it IS a centrally located city in Europe, so we'll make the best of it.

Then I got here and was able to spend an unemployed summer exploring the city and making myself at home, finding our haunts and deciding what neighborhood to live in, and well, by then Brussels had me under its spell.  It really is a great "starter" European city.  There are other languages spoken, so you definitely know you ain't in the US no more, but most people speak English, too, so you're not that far out of your element.  The food is good (it had more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any other city when we moved here) and the "hits" are approachable--frites, mussels, chocolate, waffles.  The architecture is incredible; there are so many deco gems and beautiful details, in even the most ordinary of buildings.  It is a walkable city, and B and I enjoyed some of our best times just wandering around like we're wont to do.  And the beer... oh, the beer!  I knew we had it good here (B and I especially, what with living so close to Moeder Lambic) but it really took moving to Paris and being confronted with the shit selection of beer in the groceries to make me appreciate the quality of beer at your fingertips here in Belgium.

And our apartment!  I know you saw the pictures way back when but it breaks my heart to leave our most lovely apartment here.  It was just perfect for us--and for having friends visit.  It was nearly 100 m2... that is GIANT as far as EU apartments go.  And we really fell in love with our neighborhood of St. Gilles.

But things change, jobs end and others present themselves, so here we are in flux again.

I just signed a lease on a great apartment in Paris, right near the Republique metro and 3 blocks from the Canal St. Martin.

Nice, right?

It's all new and big for Parisian standards at 64 m2 (I don't know in feet people, I just don't...), but if I had to grouse I'd tell you that it lacks old Parisian character.  But then, that also makes me feel that it will be sufficiently un-ghosty (you know I worry about this)... a big relief.

So this Friday, they move all of our things from Brussels to Paris.  And B will bring Chichi on the train on Friday.  (Please no poops on the train, please no poops on the train...)  I am really excited to have her there with me, to have someone to come home to.

Paris is great.  I mean, it's Paris!  But it's not without its challenges.  (I am super-excited about July because some of my favorite people on this planet will be coming to visit.  I can hardly sit still about it!)  Brussels was nice because we had a network of friends here, but we'd also established ourselves in our neighborhood, knowing the people at Bar du Matin, and Moeder and our Night Shop and pharmacie and all of that.  And though the people in Paris have been friendly and welcoming and helpful, I will still miss the rhythm and ease of Brussels.  I am glad I got to experience it for the past year, though I feel like there are many parts of Belgium I had yet to explore.  I'd like to think I will still get to Gent or the Ardennes but honestly, now I have France to explore and it's probably not likely.  Still, I think we made the most of our time in Belgium and I will always treasure it.  I know I'm a lucky duck for having had the opportunity.

So.... on to the next chapter!  Thanks for the memories, Brussels.