Thursday, 17 September 2009

Brussels



We went to Brussels today on the train. Di had a photo shoot with a new baby and his family, I got to wander the city alone. Now, I'm good with maps. Everyone knows that. But not in Roma and not today. You see the key to reading maps is knowing the starting point. Today I failed miserably on that front. Who would have thought that all the historically meaningful buildings would be pictured on the map except the Grand Place (doesn't sound so grand written).

So I began wandering from the place I thought was pictured as the Grand Place, wrong. No wonder I struggled to find the things I wanted to find and yet found other things that defied logic. Oh well, nothing was hurt in the process, except once again my leo pride.

I was footsore and hungry so found a place that sold falafal, a Greek restaurant with a smiling man inviting me in. How could I resist. I suspect he was a little surprised when I asked for tea with my meal. The men next to me certainly were and tried to convince me of the merits of their respective wines, white and rose, much to the amusement of all.

The two were as old as Methuselah and looked like the two old men on the balcony in the Muppets. They spoke to me in English, once they realised I was not a mademoiselle, and in other languages to the others in the shop. They appeared to have their own language for each other.

Needless to say under such peer pressure I sampled the Rose, much to the delight of the Rose drinker. The other tried to convince me otherwise, an argument ensued that had others laughing and left me bemused. When I left the shop I was invited to return tomorrow, the falafal were good enough to consider that while the Rose came from a very large bottle and tasted like it came from a cask.

Di and I met at the station and jumped on a train home to Antwerp. Then the fun began.
"Is this the train to the airport?" asked the man.
"No, it's the train to Antwerp," answered Di. The man looked shocked, horrified.
"So not the train to the airport then," asked another man, Irish I suspected from the faint accent.

Di, Fatima and Maria were convinced that they were on the Antwerp train, I smiled and nodded unconvinced of anything. You see we became good friends with Maria from Moldova and Fatima from Morocco who both lived on the Brussels/Antwerp line after we discovered that we were all on the wrong train. Not our fault apparently as the airport train somehow jumped in before the Antwerp one, an out of sequence that put us out of sorts.

We had a laugh about the situation, harder for Fatima as she was fasting and iftar was fast approaching, as we traveled back to the starting point and waited for the next train. Di shared her chocolate bar with Fatima as we chatted. Fatima has Di's card and my number and we have an invite to an eid celebration with her family, a mistake making a wrong connection into a good one.

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