Do you know your own capital city? Do you know Brussels? We all like to travel the world but don’t pay attention to what is right under our noses. Me too I plead guilty.
For some strange reason, we, Flemish avoid this place like the plague. And it truly beats me why!
Some say it is because ‘it is dangerous’, and well, even though I did get robbed there, I don’t think it is any more dangerous than say London, or Paris. So that definitely can’t be the reason why it keeps you from going there.
I intent to make a change here.
In this pandemic with its multiple and endless lock downs, Brussels has been one of the places I started exploring. It is more a ‘city’ than the postcard-like towns of Gent and Brugge. It has a lot more character and personality.
So it comes to no surprise that I chose this particular place to go to and recharge my batteries. Last minute, too short, but I decide to go nonetheless. Randomly roaming around with my black and white camera, just looking around and letting all that I see soak into me.
But then there is this one place I accidentally came across through Instagram, which immediately reminded me of Moscow. The Russian Capital, known for its subways…. Not just it’s looks, but also its name ‘Pannenhuis’ is utterly weird. It is a Subway-station in Brussels. Let’s go!
This time I take my ‘normal’ camera, I don’t want to shoot this in black and white, no way! I put my camera with its fish-eye lens in my handbag, put the address in google maps and walk towards Laken. An hour walk from where I am staying. I should probably have taken the subway. But well…
The walk brings me through empty streets and by closed restaurants. This pandemic gives an eerie touch to whatever place that is normally busy. I don’t think I will ever get used to it. For a moment I regret that I didn’t take the subway, but according to google maps it’s too late for that now.
I arrive, buy a ticket and enter.
The place is mind blowing. The colours are so bright they glow all around. I feel like I entered in a 70-ties candy store, even though I have no idea what that looked like. I have a vage remembrance of the wall paper in my bedroom when I was a little child, but it really feels like my bed could have stood here, right in this station. My room used to be bright red and orange. My room looked like this!
The place is fabulous. How come nobody knows it? How come people travel to Moscow to see the subway stations but not to Brussels? It is completely incomprehensible!
I stay a while. At times it is empty, then a train stops, people get on and off, and it’s empty and again it fills up slowly. The crowds are never large. The trains are never full. I hop on one, back towards the place where I am staying, and the next station is Belgica. It is now certain, I need to do a subway tour in Brussels. Let me know if you want to join me!
PS. The name ‘Pannenhuis’, translated in English ‘Pan House’ or ’tiled roof house’ (‘pan’ has 2 meanings in Flemish), is named after the street it is situated in. The street name goes back to mid 17th century, when a pub with a tiled roof stood at this location.
PS I do need your advise : I can’t seem to choose here. Which of the 3 orange photos do you prefer?
number 1 (at the top)
number 2 (in the middle)
number 3 (at the bottom)