Jake, my crazy smart little brother, got an amazing contract working at a wind energy company in Brussels for the year. I knew I had to visit him at some point during his stay there, and, with the film industry being in its slow season and my photography exhibit over and done with, late February seemed the perfect opportunity. My flight was booked for a February 19th departure. The day before I boarded the plane to Brussels, my mother, an avid viewer of CNN, showed up at my place with three ziplock bags full of face masks, medical grade wet wipes and rubber gloves respectively, with very stern warnings of the Corona Virus and detailed instructions of how to keep myself safe on my travels. At the time, we knew that the virus could live on surfaces for concerning lengths of time and that it could be avoided by wearing gloves, frequent handwashing and refraining from touching ones face. Armed with my Mom’s love, I masked up and flew to Europe.
Jake was awaiting my arrival at BRU. We strolled around the beautiful city in the rain as I reveled in the wonderful street art, new and old, like the tourist I am. We stopped in at the Delirium Brewery for a pint. Delirium is my favourite beer of all time. It’s perfectly balanced, delicious, and very strong. After one Jake and I had quite a buzz going and the conversation took a turn toward gender fluidity and online dating. We needed some fresh air! And food. Back out in the rain, we went to a lowkey, well-priced restaurant specializing in traditional Belgium dishes recommended by one of Jake’s friends. We shared a main course of delicious beef stew and decided to try a popular, pricey place for another course. The decor and the architecture at the second spot were impressive, but the chocolate foie gras was dry. The lesson to revisit is to always trust a local’s recommendation over internet hype. Still pouring rain, we traipsed back to Jake’s subterranean bachelor pad like two excitable fillies in Springtime. The reflection of the lamplights on the rained-upon cobblestone streets interrupted by the octogonal shadows of hurried umbrellas gave the evening a special filmic quality that can only be found in old Europe.
We discussed the virus. Jake was worried about staying in Brussels as it began to spread around Europe, but honestly, no one was really ringing the alarm yet. Life was still normal. We packed up Mum’s precautionary supplies and readied ourselves for our flight to our next stop: Budapest!