Before visiting Brussels last summer, I innocently reduced the small nation of Belgium to a row of clichées, namely french fries (oh, the irony…), exquisite chocolates and comic books. I was more than happy to revise my opinion, especially since I’ve disliked Tintin, Lucky Luke and their compatriots for as long as I can remember.Truth be told: Brussels has a lot more to offer than Männeken Piss and other well-known tourist attractions.
An insider’s tip I would like to share with you is the art hub/café/bar/concert venue known as “Recyclart”. Located beneath an old train station, the cultural establishment is literally underground. The train station (formerly known as Chapelle-Kapellekerk) was converted by the city’s Urban Development Department in 1996 and has been home to a number of exhibitions, concerts, workshops and cultural projects ever since. Recyclart is described by it’s managers as “an artistic laboratory, a creative centre for cultural confrontation, an actor in the municipal public arena, a training centre and a place for meeting and experiment”.
I find it hard to describe all of the events that go down at Recyclart, since they vary greatly from one another. I had the priviledge of being in Brussels while the european “Fête de la Musique” took place; naturally, the venue offered a great variety of musical performances and was jam-packed three nights in a row. Free entrance, cheap drinks and experimental/electronic music all night long (the kind of things I am used to from my hometown Berlin), plus a handful of friends and friendly strangers – I had definitely underestimated les Belges.
If you happen to be in the city, I advise you to simply stop by and have a look. The kind staff will be more than happy to inform you of any upcoming events while you enjoy a coffee on the terrace and watch little Belgian skater boys show off their tricks in the adjacent skate park. If you’re on a tight budget and would nevertheless like to enjoy a good meal, I can also highly recommend a visit to the Recyclart restaurant. The menu features a wild mixture of french, international and also vegetarian specialties – all between 3€ – 9€.