9/21/09

A Beautiful Sunday


Sunday I woke up in my new flat to a strange stillness. Having left my windows open the last few nights, I'm getting accustomed to waking up to honks, shouts, and a general morning buzz from the nearby thoroughfare. Aside from the overcast gray skies and the occasional church bells, something was off. Having already earmarked the day for checking out the flea market in St-Gilles, I got dressed and headed in the direction of the metro.

On the streets the stillness continued, punctuated by the occasional bicycle bell. In fact, when I looked around, I realized there were way more bicyclists than normal. Upon walking a little further, I realized that, actually, there were ONLY bicyclists. (Well, the occasional roller-blader.) Instead of taking my life in my hands every time I crossed the streets, I was one of a throng of pedestrians and non-motorists crowding the fashionable Avenue Louisa. I started to think I was in the middle of some kind of Critical Mass.

When I reached the metro station, I had the matter cleared up. The ticket counter informed me that metros were free all day, since across Brussels this was a day without cars,(Journée Sans Voitures)! Finally in on the joke, I grinned walking the foggy, spacious streets that were filled not with crazed cab-drivers and poor-park jobs, but little children on roller skates, parents carting babies in little bicycle cabs behind them, and old couples holding hands on bikes as they leisurely rode down a hill. What an amazing experience... confirmed proof that another world is possible!

By the time I was at the market, I was jubilant. And luckily, the market itself was no let-down. Stretching several blocks in a spiral around Gare Midi, the different stalls boasted all kinds of fruits, veggies, flowers and spices, as well as tons of clothing, suitcases, shoes, kitchen supplies, you name it. I was so relieved- a few days in posh Ixelles and I was starting to think I was going to have to live off lentils. There's a better solution: just save the shopping for Sundays! I found a bunch of spices (including the elusive black salt), some gorgeous plants, some kitchen stuff, even a jacket for 3 euros. (I'll learn how to barter later, for now just seeing some reasonable prices was thrilling enough.)

All the way home the streets were still filled with bikers of all ages, shapes and nationalities, lots of whom were eating ice cream, laughing with their friends, or waiting for small children to catch up. I wish this car holiday happened every Sunday...

St-Gilles Weekend Market- Sundays 6am until 2pm, streets surrounding Gare Midi Station

Song of the Day: Beta Band- Squares

5 comments:

The Voracious Vegan said...

I love this post, it is bringing back so many wonderful memories. I love a good Sunday market, all the fresh food, the great ideas I get just being surrounded by so much awesome produce. Lovely post!

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Bianca said...

Cool! I wish Memphis would do a day without cars. Unfortunately, that would NEVER happen here. People are too damn lazy for that...sigh. Maybe I should move to Germany too.

Mihl said...

Carfee days and free metro rides sound awesome! Yay you are finally in Brussels, congrats.

J. said...

A day without cars! So civilized! Here in Ottawa they close two main roads every Sunday in the summer so bikes have free reign. Now if only the rest of the city would do the same!

I am relieved that you found the market. Unaffordable food is very depressing.

jessy said...

i can only imagine how awesome a day without cars would be! to have the streets filled with actual people instead of cars. amazing!!! it kinda makes me sad thinking that here in the states a day like that will probably never happen. sadface.

the market looks fantastic - i'm glad they have lots of awesome to offer! while red wine & lentils are tasty - so are some fresh local yummies, fo 'sho! hooray for some reasonable prices, too! actually, make that a doublehooray! :)