After a week in Bidart it was time to see what was going on in the rest of Europe, so I flew Ryan Air from Biarritz to Brussels Charleroi to check out match number 3 – Belgium vs Algeria. (Note - if you fly into Charleroi, you have to then take a bus into the city which takes about an hour and costs 14 Euro if you don't book in advance.) Once downtown, the public transport is great and will take you all over the city. I took a train to Flagely Square to find my Airbnb. I was greeted by 2 Italians and shown a lovely room overlooking the street – after a week on a couch it was time for a room with a door and a real bed!
I arrived just moments before the match, so I walked quickly down to Place Flagely to find the bars and tables already packed to the brim. After a few tries I managed to squeeze myself into some standing room at a local pub where Jupiler was the drink of the day and the bartender never had a free moment. I couldn't have been happier with my choice – the Belgians stayed positive through the Algerian goal, but boy did they go wild for the 2 Belgian goals in the second half! It was a great crowd, with no one pushing or shoving, and people even helped each other get to a new beer. Loved it. I met 2 Belgian philosophers attending to watch the crowd, and sat with them as they talked about freedom of body and mind. A little girl even painted a huge Belgium flag on my cheek. After the win there was a huge street party in Place Flagely ~ apparently a pretty rare thing, and so much fun. Buses were held up by flag wavers, cars were honking, mobs descended on party buses and music was blaring. By the time this all died down a bit, pizza was the only option and I ended up sharing the last 2 pieces with a Canadian/Slovenian couple who also treated me to my first Westfalle - a great Belgian brew. Quite a night in Brussels! Infectious camaraderie, and exactly why I set this travel goal! This is the first time the Red Devils have reached the World Cup since 2002, and I hope to see them go far! Now off to game #4 in country #4.... can I make 8 games before I head back to the US? We shall see!
And Belgium scores!!
Some photos from the bar...
Combining a passion for travel, the desire to make a difference & a love of maps, MaggieMaps was born.
Unless otherwise noted, all prose, poetry, maps and photography posted on this blog are Copyright 2013 Maggie Maps
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