Last month I was stuck in Brussels for three days after the Valve World expo. I had three days to myself and the original plan was to do a World According to Garp meets Sound of Music trip, from where Marcus died to where Maria…um, cried? tried? Any way, to cut a long story short, Austria didn’t happen…

 

Day 1

Wake up call at 5:30. Checked out of Apple Park Maastricht by 6:30. Got dropped at Brussels Airport by 7:30. I had a large suitcase, a laptop bag and a huge sleep backlog.

 

Flashback: Brussels Airport, five days before. I arrived from Chennai to discover that my suitcase hadn’t. Filed a complaint and hit the road. Didn’t enjoy the ride to Maastricht at all – the car smelled of ciggies and I had given up smoking the previous night. FM was playing all my fav songs from the ‘80s – remixed with something slimy. And outside the car, autumn vistas in 64 million colours – big deal…dead leaves.

 

Things kind of improved from there. The expo went off well. Then, our last night in Maastricht – that will be the night before Day 1 (image of God tinkering with a light device flash in my mind) and we did the touristy things – main square, dinner at a brasserie, the bridge on the river Maas.

 

(To do: Reread A Bridge Too Far. All the towns from the book – Maastricht, Liege, Eindhoven, Nijmegan – are on the motorway boards. Trivia: Maastricht was the first Dutch town liberated by Allies)

 

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OK, back to Brussles and day 1. I started my adventure armed with a city map and instructions in pantomime. And, this would be a recurring motif, I lost my way, horribly. Finally after walking about for 5 kms, with my shoe gnawing on my small toe, I discovered that the Grand Place, and the tourism office, was just next to my hotel. From there, another hike, to board the hop-on hop-off bus from near Brussels Station – church, palace, museum, ok, ok.

 

The highlight of the day was the visit to the The Belgian Center for Comic Strip Art. I smurfed through the collection and hit the Tintin gallery – ten panels, 3 statues, one rocket model.

 

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While walking back to the hotel, finally in the right direction after two false starts, I began to miss Chennai.

 

Day 2

The Cathedral and Atomium in the morning – gothic and futuristic, stained glass and brushed steel, infinite and infinitesimal.

 

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Flew past Belgian Aircraft Museum – website much better than real thing. Antwerp after noon. Cathedral, Christ, Cross, Capello and cut, carat, colour, clarity.

 

By the time I got back to Brussels, my friend Venky was waiting for the Brussles tour – drive-by shooting version. We did the Grand Place, Town Hall, Manneken Pis, t’Seerclaes, Cathedral and Galeries Royales St. Hubert in one hour and settled down in Rue des Bouchers for some French cuisine (we had amplette, and the waiterbhai wasn’t amused when we asked for peanuts to go with the wine).

 

Day 3

Woke up late. I figured my hotel room would have more to offer in terms of entertainment than Brussels on day 3. I figured right. Dinosaur Gallery, Museum of Ancient Art. By evening, halfway between ancient and extinct, i trudged back to my room, St. Michael on top of the tower guiding my way.

 

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