Brussels, Belgium, September 15, 2019
It is Sunday morning in Brussels, Belgium. We decide to forego our Sunday morning run, in favour of exploring the Sunday markets which we have heard so much about. Clad in our running tracks and sneakers, we decide to hoof it to our first stop for the day – the farmer’s market at Brussels Midi, from our Airbnb at Saint Gilles. It is about a half an hour walk, and we can see another small market being set up on our way. The Brussels Midi market is on the outside at the rear of the station, and the usually crowded station is quite deserted on this early Sunday morning. The market stretches for about 2 kms with stalls interspersed with food trucks selling local produce. As we walk, we first encounter a clothes market selling every possible item of clothing you could think of. Our noses guiding us we come to the food market which is what we are here for – colored stalls displaying every fruit imaginable for as far as we can see. The fruits are being sold at unbelievably low prices – and we taste some of each. The locals are bargaining with the fruit sellers (majority of whom seem to be Turks), and stocking up on fruit for the week. In search of breakfast, we stumble upon a small stall serving Turkish food (parathas stuffed with kheema and cheese), and pancakes stuffed with your choice of filling. The seating areas are a handful of tables and chairs in the middle of the market with the cats for company, and we sip Turkish tea watching the locals go by – what else do you need on a Sunday morning. Deciding that we are still hungry, we walk further till we stumble upon a stall with a lot of people and the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air – we grab some croissants, and are now finally satiated. Cheese is everywhere – and tempted sorely, we buy cheese to take home with us. Having to attend our Sunday services, we reluctantly drag ourselves away from the market to home.
Sunday mass is at Our lady of Sablon Church, Sablon, which commences at 12 in the afternoon. The church comes highly recommended to us by so many people – we decide to attend services here – which is about a 20 minute bus drive from our Airbnb. Both the exteriors and the interiors are magnificent. The entire service is in French; however, having learned French in school, I could read the booklets and understand the service. The most amazing part of the service however was the music – the sounds of the grand pipe organ resonate throughout the cavernous church, and the soloist’s vibrato tones resonate with emotion, and though she sings in French, her tenor and the facial expression convey all meaning.
Sablon is famous for its antiques’ market located just behind the church, and as soon as the services are over, we make our way to the much talked about antiques’ market (not as big as the farmers’ market nor as reasonable, but very interesting antiques). Marolle flea market was next on our list, and it reminded me of Mumbai’s chor bazaar with items from the years gone by. The locals were out trying to see if they could chance upon an antique for their home.
Marolles to Grote Markt is about 8 mins by tram from the tram station that is located under a public garden, and what you must know is in Brussels (like in most European countries), Sunday is literally a holiday. There are no shops open other than flea markets, and maybe a couple of supermarkets – so it is best to do all shopping on a weekday/ Saturday.
Sunday was the end of the comic book festival in Brussels, and the streets are full of adults and kids following the gigantic size blow up comic figures walking throughout the city, with drums resounding. Needed some quiet, we headed to the beautiful Parc du Brussels (Warandepark) in the centre of the city surrounded by palace buildings, which was positively beautiful. The evening was reserved for the Tap Toes festival again which had some beautiful performances and singers, and it was finally time to bid adieu to Brussels city centre.
Monday morning before we packed up, we headed for our last Monday run in Park Duden before we left for the Netherlands.