Tiny but exciting Brussels
By Sebastian Saenz @sebastiaenz
Most people in the world immediately relate Brussels with the sprouts. It may have a low profile in history, geography or (I’ve been told) sports. But one thing is certain: it’s friendliness and diversity are undeniably at the top.
This city is one of the most majestic in Europe: visiting the city center (UNESCO World Heritage Site) provokes the sensation of being in an ancient oil painting. The Town Hall (Hotel de Ville) is hard to miss, with one of the tallest towers in the city, and the Grand Palace and the Cathedral are genuine time traveling machines. Other excellent spots are the Musical Instruments Museum (where the pieces from any time and any place are authentic art pieces), Les Galeires Royales Saint-Hubert (to get the best Belgian chocolates and admire imperial architecture under a massive skylight) and Mini Europe (to get all the pictures worth of a month backpacking). Considering that here you can find the offices of the European Union and NATO, this city may be small, but also culturally and socially rich, and economically and politically stable.
And the gayness? To begin with, the symbol of Brussels is the itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie fountain of a young boy who enjoys golden showers. Even before arriving to the capital, the train may be packed with cute tourists from all over the world (and already cruising). If you are lucky enough, a hot uniformed officer might not only check your passport. Hostels may not be the first choice for everyone, but if someone is ever going to opt for one, it should be in Brussels, since sharing a bedroom or a bathroom with the all-male young roommates may have its advantages *winks*. My choice: Van Gogh Youth Hostel: conveniently located, cheap (but not trashy at all), friendly, clean, cozy and where the painter actually had a workshop!
LGBTXYZ people from the whole kingdom and the continent visit this progressive capital for some fun. Even though there is no such thing as a gay district, walking around the city center is enough proof that the whole capital is as gay as the day is long, since there are visible and welcoming flags here and there. Most venues are located on the Rue du Marché au Charbon/Kolenmarkt (which smells like Abercrombie & Fitch aftershave). Must visit: Macho Sauna (the most popular in its category), La Belgica (busy and fun bar), Le Baroque (for bears and hunters) and ABrussel (trendy atmosphere for delicious food). Get ready for the sensual accent, and practice your “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir”.
Need more LGBT reasons? The former Belgian Prime Minister, the social-democrat Elio di Rupo, plays on our team (one of the few national leaders out of the closet). The sexy bear and fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck is another pride character of the country: his aesthetic is loud, incorporating vivid colors, burkas and unconventional jackets. He even displays his designs on XXL models from London and Paris, and among his clientele was the late Robbin Williams.
Don’t forget to get a street Belgian waffle, a raspberry beer, but most importantly: garlic mussels from the pot (at any traditional food restaurant at the city center, ask your waiter how to eat them like a true local). They might be the best gastronomic experience of my life.