Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this was our article series for young Europeans who “travel and even move abroad to study, work, or visit friends and family.” While we’ve been doing much less travelling, visiting, and moving these days, our ‘How to’ series lives on despite the pandemic – because we hope that, one day, there will be a time post-COVID during which travel might be possible again, and because some of us still have to move or visit family and could use some tips from the E&M hive mind now more than ever.
Best website/app/crystal ball to use when you are looking for a place to live?
Isabell: Facebook groups or Immoweb.
Leire: Appartager, Facebook; in an emergency, try Spotahome, but it’s more pricey than the average and you’ll need to pay a fee.
Nicoletta: Facebook groups like Brussels rooms and flats to rent.
Which tourist attraction is actually worth it?
Camille: The grand place of course… And the fine arts museum.
Isabell: Palais de Justice and the viewpoint from its terrace or next to it. In the evenings, you can experience a wonderful sunset and even see the Atomium when the sky is clear.
Sarah: If you’re willing to walk a little, trek over to the Atomium from the city centre – you’ll come across some nice greenery and a variety of neighbourhoods on your way.
Nicoletta: The waffle factory. It’s full of tourists and is a bit of a nightmare, but I think of their Liege waffles (which they make then and there) with Nutella daily.
Easiest way to save some money like a true Bruxellois/Brusselaars?
Nicoletta: Buy beers (and some alcohol-soaking snacks) in the supermarket when going for drinks on Place Luxembourg on a Thursday.
Camille: Water is often more expensive than beer, choose wisely!
Sarah: Bring your own beer to Plux (or any other (non-alcoholic) beverage of your choice)
A Bruxellois/Brusselaars would never be seen…
Sarah: Not getting sauce on their frites.
Isabell: Calling the city the European capital.
Camille: Sunbathing naked, like I saw in Berlin :O
Best place to escape to if the city gets a bit much?
Camille: Forêt de Soigne, well connected to the city via the Bois de la Cambre and Hippodrome de Boitsfort.
Isabell: Go towards the Ardennen. You can, for example, kayak on the Lesse. I also always love to cycle to the Forêt de Soignes, there are great (often hilly, so bring a good bike) routes through the woods.
Nicoletta: Ghent is also a city but it’s so pretty and far more relaxed, a break from EU politics frenzy.
Sarah: Bruges – an absolute gem!
Leire: Bois de la Cambre.
I wish people would have told me… about living in Brussels.
Sarah: There is much more to the city than the EU bubble
Nicoletta: That everyone has 600 Masters degrees.
Isabell: That there are no public outdoor swimming pools. And, don’t be fooled, the event ‘Bruxelles les Bains/ Brussel Bad’ has nothing to do with water or swimming either…
Brussels politics are…
Isabell: Green & liberal – and boring compared to federal politics.
Camille: Too many!
How (and where) to flirt like a Bruxellois/Brusselaars?
Isabell: As so many people from all over Europe live in Brussels, you can meet many people willing to flirt. To get to know expats, go to Plux on Thursdays. Or simply use apps, like Tinder or OkCupid.
Camille: In Festival, for sure, and Place Poelart at sundown.
Sarah: Everywhere? Until they add you on LinkedIn and you realize they just wanted to be introduced to your boss.
Nicoletta: In Brussels, there is a horrifyingly fine line between flirting and networking, both of which are usually done on Thursdays at Place Luxembourg or other similar Brussels-bubble events
Leire: Tinder works well, and there’s OK English men at O’Reilly’s; some people will also talk to you randomly in Plux.
Which stereotype about Bruxellois/Brusselaars is actually true?
Isabell: They like their fries and selections of sauces.
Sarah: That they’re almost never around on the weekends.
Camille: Most people speak three languages.
Nicoletta: That you rarely meet them if you’re not Belgian.
If Brussels were a person, who would it be?
Leire: Tom Hanks.
Nicoletta: Tony Soprano – normal job upfront, lots of internal politics and men gossiping behind closed doors. The anti-hero we all love to hate and hate to love. (Minus the extreme violence and illegality)
Camille: Someone you’ll love only when you get to know her.
Isabell: Stromae – international without being cocky. The more time you take to see what is inside, the more you’ll love it.
COVID bonus question: How to best make it through a pandemic in Brux?
Isabell: Use your bike and explore the city. The government actually started building new cycling paths, you just need to find them.
Camille: Cycle, walk and choose your bubble-friends wisely 🙂