The emblem of Brussels - Saint Michael slaying the dragon
Ever since my employer moved his offices to the outskirts of Brussels, I haven’t been into the city centre. That was in May 2007! I can’t say that I miss it, as Brussels is very often the scene of protest marches, blocking the city’s main arteries and thus causing gigantic traffic jams. I can’t count the times that I’ve been stuck in one of those during the 11 years that I worked in the city centre.
As recently as last Monday, angry farmers marched on the EC building to protest against the poor price they get for their milk. They want the European government to fix new production quota. By reducing the production, they hope getting a higher price for their produce. Last month it was just Belgian farmers causing havoc in the European district, but on Monday farmers from all over the EEC found their way into the ‘Capital of Europe’.
It was a very angry crowd that got even more frustrated when the European ministers of Agriculture, who were having a meeting in the building of the EC commission, refused to receive a delegation of the protesting farmers. As a revenge they set fire to some tires and poured thousands of litres of milk into the streets. What a waste!
The protest march ended around 5 p.m. For hours the slow moving convoy of tractors leaving the city centre, blocked the E411 motorway and other parallel roads leading south, thus slowing down the already busy evening traffic of commuters retuning home after a days’ work.
I hope they won’t have another protest march today as my friend and I have planned a little outing to the ‘Grande Place’, the central city square, with its beautiful historic buildings, cosy alleys and the statuette of Brussels’ most famous citizen: Manneken Pis. And then of course there are the numerous restaurants and typical cafés and bistros.
Talking about restaurants, when you’re in Brussels you must visit ‘La Petite Rue des Bouchers’. Mind you, I said ‘visit’ … but whatever you do, DON’T eat there! The little alley is lined on both sides with restaurants with attractive and appetizing outdoor displays of seafood and fish. The waiters are standing in the doorway trying to lure you in by offering a free aperitif or a three course meal at a set price. Don’t let them coax you, as you’ll regret it! This is a standard ‘tourist trap’, offering poor food and drinks at exorbitant prices.
Later this week, I will give you some tips about the best places to have a drink or an honest and high quality meal at a reasonable price. So stay tuned …
Maybe you have been to Brussels and have a (un)pleasant experience that you want to share with us!?