Living in Brussels in a “Place” or square with many restaurants is probably not the best choice. Its always busy, there is always honking and no parking. Its also not unusual for the entire street to be blocked for no parking for a weekend market. Luckily where I live the weekend markets only happen about 2-3 times a year so it makes it fun rather than an annoyance. BUT when you are awoken from the most pleasant slumber on a sunday morning by the “Woop Woop” of the police sirens, it is not very fun.
Instead of towing all the cars that parked on the street with signs indicating that there was no parking, the police have a true pleasure to come with one or two cars as “WOOP WOOOOOP” their siren like a little kid pushing the buttons on one of those toys that make noises. Upon hearing the first of the woop woops you leap out of bed nearly having a heart attack to look out the window to see what’s going on. Before you make it to the window you hear a man talking in french through the loudspeaker. I’m assuming he says “come move your car now or it will be towed.” Just tow the damn thing is all I can think at 6:30 in the morning on a Sunday! I fell sorry for the people who have babies or kids because they can’t go back to sleep as they now have to calm their cries.
These Sunday wake-up calls are a paradox I can’t figure out: either the cops are being “nice” by saving you the trouble and the fine of picking up your car from the impound or its the highlight of their week when they know that on Sunday they get to reek havoc in an entire neighborhood and push that “woop woop” button as much as they want and yell at everyone to wake up through the loud speaker (which also involves pushing another button).
Although this is an unforgivable nuisance, the resulting market makes up for the calamity. The restaurants set up tables outside and you get to peak at what they serve. Its also makes a great lunch or dinner after walking around for a few hours. There are drink stands on every corner so you can order a mojito or another cocktail and enjoy it at one of the patio tables set up out front and watch the spontaneous street dancers.
People lay out huge blankets to display their antiques from pots, full sets of silverware, tea sets, large rugs and rarer items like Sudanese swords, records and African sculptures and masks. You will also find boxes of old DVDs for 2-3 euros a piece, cheap clothing (5-15 euros a piece), and old shoes, dirty and broken children’s toys and other junk that nobody in their right mind would pay money for. But its fun and sometimes you can even find a real gem.
Today was one of those days where I was lucky enough to find something I would have never bought otherwise. A green Italian leather laptop bag. Yes ITALIAN leather! Green wouldn’t have been my first choice, but its a nice green. A green that stands out in a good way, its doesn’t jump out like a neon sign. And the seller purchased it from a small town in Italy which I can’t remember the name of, but she said it was close to Venice. She was saddened to part with it and I don’t blame her. Its amazing. I think that these types of bags would normally go for 100-150 euros. I got a bargain, is all I will say.
Many people pass through so its advisable to go early to scope out the goods before they are snatched up by someone else. Also bring extra cash so you’re not standing in the line of 15 people for the ATM.
Have you ever been to a market where you found a real gem or rare item for a great deal? What was it? Do you still use it/have it?