My favourite trip into central Brussels is to the Marolles district. The daily flea market at Place Rue Jeu de Balle sells everything and anything you can imagine. There’s a little bar on the corner with an almost guaranteed conversation with the locals.
At the bus stop today I meet Peter, a rather unkempt guy in military combats. He’d already had a bit to drink and it was just about lunchtime. He spots my t-shirt though, “5+2=5k” (loaves and fish). We get into conversation (a mixture of French, English and gesture) and he tries to tell me about his sun god. After several abusive comments to passers-by, he tells me where we can get lunch for just 2€. I don’t give it too much thought and we head off down an alley towards Rue de le Samaritan. Peter is an ex NATO soldier, who served in Bosnia.
We enter some sort of communal building which I assume is run by a church. Sitting at a large table we are joined by a Buddhist lady and Jewish psychologist who works at the centre on Wednesdays. Almost everyone else looks North African and most likely Muslim. Peter is clearly a regular here and introduces everyone to me by name.
Homemade soup, Spag Bol, and a packet of shortbread biscuits. All very nice. I pour a glass of water and Peter invites me to turn it into wine. Everyone laughs and it seems we are all best friends. This is another of Brussels’ hidden gems, a support centre for anyone who lives locally. It is of course, state funded and not a church as I had assumed. After lunch I thank the staff and agree to come back for a proper chat when they are less busy.
I’m learning to expect the unexpected!
Steve and Bridget Bree moved out from Gateway to Brussels earlier this year to join a new church plant.