The banks of the Rhine accompany me away from the German mountains, towards the Belgian plain. Boats and barges are moving slowly on the large river, while on the opposite bank I see passing little quaint villages, still intact, unchanged for centuries, guarded by the castles perched on the hills behind. Bayreuth, Nuremberg, Koln, Aachen: in half a day 4 stops, but I have not reached my destination today.
The train with which I cross the border is old and it has leather sofas in place of the seats. Besides me there is only a young couple with travel backpacks. Is this the train to Liège-Guillemins? – I ask. Oui – he answers – Are you Canadian too?. They are from Quebec and it seemed to them that I had an Anglo-Canadian pronunciation. The little convoy leaves Germany clattering, the only noise in the valley except for the bells of the cows, who lazily raise their heads to watch us passing.
Bruxelles stands out from afar thanks to its skyscrapers, a discordant note in the peaceful harmony of the verdant Belgian landscape. When I arrive, Elisa welcomes me to her studio flat, a 20 square meters’ apartment equipped with all the essentials to survive in a big city. With a walk in the city center, I start to understand that, despite the magnitude, the city is not as chaotic as other metropolis. The city center is small and pretty and the Peeing boy remains, for a lot of tourists, the most curious attraction.
After a journey of 11 hours and the short visit to the capital, I willingly accept the davenport offered by my Florentine expatriate friend, preparing for the next day! I spend the whole day in Bruges (I will talk about it in the next article) and when, in the late afternoon, I come back to Bruxelles, I fulfill my duty as a perfect tourist by going to the Atomium. I hope that no Belgian will take it badly, but it doesn’t seem to me to be such a great artwork, to be the symbol of the capital of Europe. I meet Elisa in Cinquantenaire Park and we go to meet Cindy. I’ve not seen her since our Erasmus in Madrid in 2008. I’m still hit by her bright elf eyes, so much in contrast with her shyness.
We have dinner in Luxembourg square, where as every Thursday evening all the interns of EU offices meet for an aperitif. We are almost the only ones without suit and tie. A typical white beer accompanies a stew, which is also flavored with beer. After dinner we cannot do anything but taste another typical beer in the city center. The pub is a former market: between the metal columns, tables and chairs host those seeking shelter from the summer heat. The Belgian Prime Minister passes in front of us, surrounded by people who recognised him, and he chats in a friendly manner with the young people. Just as it happens in Italy.
READ HERE THE STEP N°1: Munich (Germany)
READ HERE THE STEP N°2: Bayreuth (Germany)