Last week I had a great time at the Brussels Twestival (Twitter Festival), held at Munt Punt Library in the city centre! The afternoon was filled with great speakers and panel discussions about social media, new media, journalism, storytelling; the list goes on and on. I met some really great people, had wonderful conversation and drank a really great latte provided by one of my favourite cafés in Brussels: Karsmakers.
The most noteworthy of presenters for me was Derek Blyth, a British author who has lived in Belgium for the last twenty or some-odd years. What I loved about his discussion was his non-chalant, natural way of speaking to his audience, and knowing that he’s the kind of guy who would be genuinely pleased to read this and see that he was my favourite presenter of the day.
Derek spoke freely and unrehearsed about how much he loves living in Brussels. It was refreshing, since most expats (foreigners living here) think that Brussels is a huge bore and that there’s nothing to do here. And then something cool happened: he said exactly what I just said one line above. To paraphrase:
“We’re all a little bit lost here,” he said, “but Brussels is not boring. So…” he paused. “I decided to write a book.”
Derek talked about his book, The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels, like it was his child. His publishers had no hope for the book, which has now sold almost ten thousand copies and is in its third edition. The book is exactly what its title suggests: a list of 500 of the coolest things to see, do, and eat in Brussels that you probably wouldn’t find in any Brussels guidebook. He told us sternly that if we were going to buy the book, to do so at a small bookshop in the city centre such as Sterling or Waterstones (this was for obvious reasons, of course). “Everything you do in Brussels has an impact. When you buy something on Amazon you are not playing a part in the life of the city,” he added.
So I went out to Sterling Books four days later and bought the book. Duh. I spent the night flipping through it and adding new places to my post-it note lists of things to do in Brussels. I got excited when I came across something on the list that I had already done. I’d highly suggest to any expats in Brussels who have stumbled upon this post to consider adding this book to their collection. You’ll definitely find some new things to discover in the city, as rainy as it may be!
The same day I bought Derek Blyth’s book, we also went to the Brussels Vintage Market and the Christmas Market for a little wander. I loved the vintage market and found some really great pieces while Meena made jokes about its “old lady smell”. I can’t take her anywhere!
Since then I’ve found myself in crunch-mode to get my final essays finished before I go back home to Canada for the holidays, but I still have time for the finer things like doing my nails and trying out new recipes!
T-minus ten days until I’m heading home, and I could not be more excited! That said, however, I can’t wait to start a new chapter of exchange in January, full of travelling, discoveries, and school… I guess. 🙂