Today, Sunday September 16th is car free sunday here in B’ville. And the sun seems to be shining. I’m outta here. Bicycle heaven.
I’m back home with the photos from the Brussels no-car day 2012. It was an amazing day. The sun was shining in a way not often seen here. The streets were jammed with pedestrians and thousands of bicycles. There were musical events everywhere, food, people laughing, sitting in cafes, strolling around. I rode 6 different Villo bikes. I went down to the canal which looked sparkly in the sunlight. I rode over to the Grand Place and sat down to a coffee. Even in the expensive Grand Place where one buys a coffee in order to rent a seat the coffee was 3 euros, one less than normal in Athens. There was a Mexican band playing in the Grand Place. I sang along to “Cielito Lindo” more lustily than I probably intended. “Ay ay ay ay. Canta y no llores!” Brussels was never like this when I lived here before. Something happened. It got better. I looked around myself and felt…dare I say it? Happy. Yes. That was that strange sensation. What a great day.
Just got home from rehearsal in a sweaty but elated state. Steven and I bought one week subscriptions to the “Villo” service. Villos are city bicycles which are part of the public transportation network. Using a credit or bank card in an atm style terminal, you buy a subscription at a bicycle station, one of the hundreds spread all over town. You enter a pin and detach one of the sturdy yellow bikes from the stands where they are docked and ride to the station closest to your destination. This is marvelous. Beats seven kinds of hell out of a car or a bus, or walking.
The next day, I took a quick excursion with one of these gems around the neighborhood of Madou, close to where we are working. I never really visited this area when I lived in Brussels so it was all new to me. I encountered a very beautiful park called “Parc Marie Louise” which I had never seen or even heard of. It has a wonderful lake with a fountain in the middle and a fake grotto which sports a waterfall inside. Something about this first encounter struck me as celestially beautiful. It probably helps that I had seen something like the same scene in a dream I had about an astral Brussels analogue in which great flowing cataracts and waterfalls featured.