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