"Another Brussels Zinneke on the Loose" zinneke's Profile
Call me a micro traveler...
I haven't traveled much around the planet but I do know a few fragments of a couple places very well. You could say I know a few unusual places in unusual ways! At least that would be where my expertise is for assisting you. Although I currently live in Brussels, Belgium my home is in what remains of the oldest pre-dominantly Flemish quarter here, "Sint Katelijnewijk". The parish of Saint Catherine for you relentless Anglophones!
Whatever you want to know about this quarter which is often missed by those passing through Brussels I can probably help. Just ask! This quarter is like a small village that's stuck in the middle of an all too large and seemingly soulless Brussels city which baffles most folks passing through!
As far as the rest of the planet is concerned, well, I dream a lot! I travel in virtual ways from the safety and comfort of my home computer to a whole list of places: Starting with mythical Byzantium of the past and moving on to Arabiyya of the future, towards Mahgreb and al Andalus. Any high altitude desert plateau under the starlight of the galaxy is where my soul longs for. My ideal destination includes anyplace within the call of the Muezzin from a Minaret. If it's not the call to prayer waking me in the middle of the dark hours then I prefer those places where the late night howling of wolves or coyotes can rouse me from slumbering on the open air desert floor.
In reality I live in the lowest part of the "stad Brussel"/(Brussels city) not very far above sea level in these here Southern lowlands of Northern Europe in a region known as "Vlaanderen"/(Flanders) within what was once the Dukes of Brabant's domain. The mythical Zenne/Senne River that runs under this here damp neighborhood is a river that is now submerged beneath the Metropolis but never far below ones feet or sub consciousness. Hence the moniker Zinneke, which is an affectionate name locals use for one another in these parts or for an old bastard dog.
The "straatjes"/streets of this "wijk"/quarter are best thought of as out door public rooms. The facades of which assembled without any concern for their neighbors rising up over time out of a seeming architectural anarchy - this is no quaint Northern European village mind you! My life here is played out on a pre-automotive stage now better seen as inhumane car canyons. Find a park bench and watch the comedy and drama of life here unfold! The only thing waking me up at night (and it's nothing as interesting as a minaret or a coyote) is the occasional irate driver caught on this here old 15th century street which was never intended for the automotive beast. The street where I am writing you from is the fragmentary remains of the old road connecting Koln/Cologne to Gent/Ghent; a medieval European "Route 66" if you will.
Two Churches within view of each other with their competing bells are a regular feature to my life punctuating my waking hours with their markings of the passing day: Sint Katelijnekerk/Eglise Sainte Catherine and the old baroque Begijnhofkerk/Beginage which looks like a place a Vampire would call home! Having suffered a devastating fire a couple years ago to its ornate roof but still it remains with heavily carved wooden doors open to the curious passerby. It's a great place to go sit if you want a cathedral all to yourself for a few quiet moments. Light a small candle in a red plastic votive holder, make a wish or a prayer to a patron Saint and don't forget the obligatory small coin box for the 50 euro cent payment! Open everyday from 10am to 5pm except Mondays.
If you have read this far and enjoyed this excerpt from my life here then I want to hear from you! Even if you felt it was a waste of your time! Or if you are intrigued and are passing through Brussels and want to know more then let me know.
Tot ziens mon ami!
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