Weird title huh? It describes last weekend perfectly though. You see, we went to Brussels in Belgium to see Yes. At least, that was the plan.
Months earlier, Vman asked me if I would like to go to a Yes concert with him. He’s been following this band throughout the years and was practically jumping for joy over this unique possibility. Of course I said yes. I would go anywhere with my partner. ‘You know what,’ he said, ‘let’s turn this into a whole weekend, just the two of us.’ My answer to that was ‘YES!’
So at 10 am we were cruising the Dutch highways, heading for Belgium. The weather was sunny, the mood was light and the music was Yes. After we battled our way through the maze of the streets of Brussels, we drove straight into the first parking garage in sight. In the centre! Near our hotel! Perfect, simply perfect.
The first thing I did was buy a hat at a small market. A black fake fur hat to go with my black teddy-bear coat. (See the picture on the right.) Have been searching all over town last year to find one, and here it was, waiting for me. The saleswoman had made it herself. And when I pointed at some loose ends, she immediately grabbed her sewing kit and started mending it. Plus she gave me a two euro discount, for tea. I was thrilled.
Vman and I had tea on a sunny terrace, and then strolled through the beautiful bilingual – Dutch and French – city of Brussels before going to the hotel to check in. And what a hotel it was: Hotel Mozart Grand’Place. Classical music filled the entrée, and I think my mouth was agape while I looked around. Quelle surprise!
By that time, our stomachs were growling. We had been ignoring the tantalizing odours of Brussels Waffles, covered in cream, chocolate and strawberries for far too long. My god, they were tempting! But we passed them and entered a restaurant in stead. A chic madame took us to our table. No, we didn’t have reservations. Did I imagine it, or were all eyes on us? Nah. She handed us the menu and I carefully read it. Four times. There was not a single dish that appealed to me. ‘What will you have?’ my man asked me. ‘Nothing from this list!’ I said and then turned to the lady who was waiting for us to make a choice.
Excuse me, is this the lunch card?
Lunch? LUNCH? We do not serve lunch today! Nor on Sunday. This is the weekend! We only have lunch during weekdays, naturellement.
She seemed a little outraged at my question. At least now I was certain all eyes were upon us. ‘Let’s get out of here,’ I mumbled and put on my coat, making excuses for the inconvenience. Once outside we laughed out loud. No horse could drag me back to that place! Well, perhaps if it was a horse like this, it could:
We left the matron to her outrage and dived into another little restaurant ‘Chez Patrick’, for a heavenly cheese omelet with French fries and salad.
Let me show you a bit of Brussels art:
By late afternoon I started feeling very tired, my legs weighed a hundred pounds. Vman took me back to the hotel – as usual I was lost – where we watched a bit of TV and rested. Somewhat later we set out for dinner again. In Brussels a lot of different cultures are united, and we could chose any cuisine we wanted: Indian, Italian, Turkish, Greek, French, you name it. We ended up in a little bistro, where almost every customer was eating clams. And depositing the empty shells in a black top hat! Fun to watch.
By the time we got back to Hotel Mozart again, I was dead on my feet and I fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow. I was restless during the night though, waking up often and not feeling well. After breakfast we returned to our room so I could rest as long as possible. And I hoped the two pain killers I took were actively killing germs by then. There was a Columbo movie on TV. It had been ages since I last saw Peter Falk. Too soon it was 11 am and we had to check out, missing the end of Columbo grrr.
Brussels was waiting for us already and we strolled through its streets, while my heart was hammering against my ribs and my brow was covered in a thin sheet of sweat. Boy oh boy, did I feel miserable. Stopping every now and then to
catch my breath enjoy the scenery, I put on a brave show to reassure my love, but he was not fooled.
Are you alright?
Sure, you know I’m made of steel!
Should we go home?
Of course not silly, tonight we are going to see Yes!
He left it at that and took me to a lunch restaurant where we were the only customers. As instructed and encouraged by my through text message alerted sister, I asked for fresh orange juice with extra lemon. And though it was not on the menu, the owner took pity after seeing my feverish face and promised to make me a special healthy drink. Which he did. It was heavenly. The vitamins coursed through my body and battled valiantly. We had bread rolls with hot tuna salad (to burn away any remaining bacteria) and chicken Hawaii.
Enough energy to shoot some buildings:
It was 2 pm and the Yes concert started at 8. A concert where I had to stand in stead of sit. A thing that had slipped my mind. Normally I would already have huge problems with standing for a couple of hours because of my back, but in this condition? My courage was melting away with every passing minute. ‘Hey, let’s go see a movie to pass the time?’ My partner thought that was an excellent idea, so we walked towards the cinema we had noticed the day before. The French titles were not that encouraging and the films we wanted to see did not start until late.
In a slight panic I walked out into the street again. How on earth could I stay upright until the evening? And through the concert? All I wanted was to lie down and close my eyes. By that time my head was throbbing, my throat ditto, I had a fever and all muscles were hurting. Even combing my hair sent shivers of pain through my body. Ah, a bench in the sun! Grateful I fell down, gazing up at this little statue.
The energy these playful kids emanated, was bliss. While I had none. Vman wrapped his arm around me and held me close. A man came staggering past, coughing his lungs out, a cigarette in his hand. He tried to balance himself but failed and toppled slowly backwards. Two men nearby (you can see one of them in the picture) jumped up and helped the fallen man back to his feet. And you know what? The first thing he did was pick up his cigarette and light it. Amazing destructive behaviour. And then I realized I would be the next to topple over if I was not honest with my partner. I had the Brussels flu.
I don’t think I can make it through the concert…
My voice trailed away. I felt so very guilty, but felt even sicker. One look at my face made him get up, take my hand and lead me back towards the car.
I’m so sorry, so very sorry. The tickets must have cost you a fortune. And your expectations…
Shush, we are going home!
I shushed, relief giving me the extra energy needed to get me to the parking garage. Finally I could rest my poor head and close my eyes. The Garmin system was leading us from the centre to the outskirts of Brussels, straight into a traffic jam. I opened my eyes and then blinked, twice. Huh?
There’s a girl in a bikini standing in the doorway?
Delirious, that’s it. I must be delirious! A couple of meters further, there was another scantily clad beauty. Right. No delusion after all. The Garmin system had taken us to a Red Light District! And all male car drivers were more absorbed in staring than in driving. Endless legs. Smiling faces. Long blond hair. Attractive bodies. At once I felt even more sick. Sick, grey and unattractive. I closed my eyes again, totally exhausted.