Beer Factory Brussels 2018

Beer Factory Brussels 2018

Stand Up for Europe Canada; n’EU Year’s Drink January 11th

@ Stand Up for Europe Brussels


When I saw half way through the week that I had been

invited to another soirée courtesy of Alessando and

Stand Up for Europe Brussels I leapt at the opportunity

to pop over again. This time I opted to go one way with

a sixty-pound ticket on Eurostar because it only takes

two hours and back the other way on the Flixbus. It just

so happened that there was a sixty-pound ticket going

on the 10:58 from St Pancreas International. As a

diabetic I was glad to know that at least one Pancreas

was functioning really well and indeed there were no

delays. I caught the train from Colchester just before

nine o’ clock and I madly checked everything and my

heart really sank. I’d forgotten to pack my debit card. I

had the Euros, the passport, my house key, the name

and address of the hotel, the E-tickets everything but

the debit card. It was mum’s fault as usual. She had

been keen that I put the debit card in a wallet and I

normally just carry it in my jacket pocket. I have done

ever since I got my wallet stolen at New Malden train

station once with all my cards in. She messes me around

and changes my planning constantly when I’m walking

out of the door and it doesn’t help. I got to Liverpool

Street about ten minutes late, and realised I also had

forgetten my Oyster Card so I had to change a tenner

back into English money to get a tube ticket to Kings

Cross. Leaving only 55 euros for the entire trip. I

couldn’t access the funds arriving the day after. I arrived

at arrived at St Pancreas and couldn’t get my E-Ticket

app to work because there was no WiFi connection for

the IPad and the app had restarted and I had to put in

all my passwords again. Thankfully, I had a booking

reference in an email which was already saved on the

Ipad HD so I bought that up and they directed me over

to some new ticket machines where I could print the

ticket out. They had only just installed them that day. I

got to the ticket barriers just as the final call message

came up and they let me through the biometric

passport checker and all the other baggage security and

manual passport checks. I had to be really careful with

money I had 50 euros and that was it. I bought myself a

soft drink and boarded the train. A very nice black

British businesswoman was placed next to me, she tried

to sit in front, but someone claimed her seat and we

didn’t know who was getting on at Ebbsfleet. I fell

asleep for most of the trip until we got to Lilli Europe

and then I moved onto the seat behind and spread

myself out for the rest of the forty minutes or so into

Bruxelles-Midi or Brussel Zuid as it is known in Flemish.

Making my way to Louise


I remembered my way around the Metro you need to

take the train passed Arts-Loix to get to Louise. When I

got there, I didn’t know where to go or where to ask.

There were no ticket booths, and there was no tourist

information on Avenue Louise or Waterloo Avenue near

the station despite it being rather a well to do area of

Brussels. I went up Avenue Louise a little way and then

noticed a side street with a few nice restaurants and

decided to have a spot of lunch and ask whom I thought

looked like a nice Belgian girl in there.


The Baked Potato Girl


The restaurant I chose was a gourmet baked potato

restaurant. It did traditional English baked potatoes with

veggie fillings for a Belgian girly girl’s taste. Since I was

diabetic and wanted to watch my weight too I thought it

would be more appropriate than going for a pizza next

door or a kebab across the street. I’ve never had baked

potato with Rose-Marie Sauce and cauliflower, broccoli

and raw carrots before but I quite liked it. It was quite a

good meal for 8 euros with a diet coke. So, I got lunch in

and was able to log on and get google maps directions

to the Hotel. It wasn’t far away. I also asked the girls in

the restaurant and they pointed me to Avenue Suisse

which was in the right direction.


Hotel Pantone (checking in without my debit card)


I was staying at the Hotel Pantone. I got a free upgrade

to a suite on the sixth floor. It was a lovely room for just

52 pounds per night. I got a whole enclosed seating area

and balcony, walk in shower, and toilet, it was very

adequate. The phone and kettle didn’t work but I got

another kettle from reception. Officially, I was not

allowed to check in without my debit card, but he was

going to be there until 11 o’ clock that night and if I

could provide photographic evidence that that card

existed at home, if mum could take a photo of it that

would be sufficient to provide ID. She did do this, and I

was able to check into the hotel. I had a lovely couple of

hours up there freshening up and getting some rest,

then pampering myself up for the evening. It was quite

a way to walk there with no obvious bus route from

Louise to the European Quarter so I just walked it. It

took a good three-quarters of an hour.

Walking to the European Quarter


I took a number of photos on the way to the European

Quarter. The area known as Louise is one of the nicer

parts of the city, everything is really posh and lovely

until you get to past the roundabout known as Stefànie.

At Sefànie I took a rest and had a look round an art

gallery and clothes shop with a café in and took some

photos. Then I headed off up the hill until I entered a

more ethnic area of the city that appeared quite run

down. I felt a little uneasy there and wanted to pass

through the area as quickly as I could. Eventually I found

my way out of it down Dublin street and onto Avenue

Arlon and it’s just a little way down there until you

reach the European Quarter with its central square

known as Place de Luxembourg next to the parliament

building where the lovely Beer Factory gastropub is



Dinner and Social at The Beer Factory


We had dinner and a social it the beer factory on the

Place de Luxembourg. I walked in straight passed

Alessandro and then a waiter pointed out that he was

there. He was just putting a sign up on the door to point

out that we were on the first floor tonight. We

ascended the stairs and avoided the queue for the loo

which you get to just before the rest of the seating on

the mezzanine upper floor. We were meeting some

Canadian students on a tour of European institutions

tonight who were friendly with the EU, and I suppose

that’s why I’d been wheeled out, being a Brit. Hélène

and Balint had probably gone to another meeting for

the JEF Young European Federalists on the same night.

The other people present at first were a German lady

called Anna Lisa from the SPD whom I made friends with

instantly, she was lovely and one of her friends. Some

other people arrived later. A lot of the Canadians sat on

our table including the Lady in charge of the group. The

group were scholars who were doing some kind of

internship with the Canadian government. I think she

was called Helen the woman in charge. She was really

nice, and she liked me I hardly got to talk to Anna Lisa

again. She was really good with me. I ordered some

food which was really nice it was a Belgian version of

fish and chips. French fries and little pieces of fish in a

very thin Chinese style batter. I liked that for 15 euros it

was a little on the pricy side but lovely nevertheless. I

think I had a beer resembling Leffe as well. I also got to

talk to one or two of the Canadian guys. We put up the

Stand Up for Europe, Canadian and European flags. Just

as I turned to leave and paid, Alessandro told me we

were moving on to the Italian Café so I stayed with them

having a little chat outside afterwards. The Italian Café is

on the on Arlons street or Rue d’Arlons. It wasn’t far

away, and we exchanged some business cards.

The Italian Café

When we arrived at the Italian café it was packed out

but there was space at the back and I ended up talking

to a Canadian student doing a tour of European political

institutions who was doing an internship at the

Canadian Parliament with his girlfriend who hadn’t

come to Brussels with him but had stayed in England. I

had a diet coke and then I popped off at around 10pm.

Alessandro’s swift departure

Alessandro and his friend came outside with me, but

they ran off to find her father.

Back to Pantone via Railway and Tube

I found my way to the Gare de Luxembourg and got on a

train to Schuman and then got the tube to Arts Loix and

changed there to get back to Louise and the Hotel

Pantone. I slept rather roughly and woke up ready for

action the next day.


I went to a café on Avenue Lousie and had a coffee and

a croissant but didn’t have much money left. Brussels is

very expensive these days. I didn’t have much money left

and walked up avenue Louise to try and find the headquarters of

Stand Up for Europe and get advice on how to stay in Brussels. I did

make contact with someone, but they were unable to

help me stay.I was still fantastically hungry so spent my last

Euros on a sandwich from the supermarket downstairs.

The Royal Palace


I walked up Waterloo Avenue to the top and asked in a

bank where I could seek asylum due to prejudice in my

local community as to whom I was. They directed me to

the local police station at Grande Place. To get there I

needed to walk in front of the Royal Palace and park

which is supposed to have been modelled on and is

actually a tick larger than Buckingham Palace in London.

When I got to the other side of the park I descended

through the subway into the old centre of the city.

Grande Place and the Police station

I went through the nicer parts of the old city and

eventually found my way to the Grande Place the main

square at the heart of the old city with its grand

buildings. I popped into the tourist office and they put

me into the direction of the police station in a side

street. I got down to the police station and said that I

wanted to attempt to gain asylum in Beligum on the

grounds that my movements and activities were being

restricted due to Brexit. They pointed me in the

direction of the old WTC in the north of the city near the

north station called Office d’Etrangers, The Foreigner’s


Seeking Asylum


I walked from Grande Place up to Rogier and then on to

the North Station area which is a dangerous part of

Brussels. I eventually found the reception of the

foreigner’s office and talked to the lady in there about

seeking asylum. I explained to her that my movements

were being restricted and that I was being spied on by a

higher power because of being under the care in the

community team and being pro-European and anti-

Brexit. She agreed that it was sufficient grounds to claim

asylum and if I wished to do so there I should go there

at 9am on Monday morning. I said I wanted to be

Belgian citizen in order to retain a European passport

and she suggested travelling on to Germany and seeking

asylum there because my French wasn’t good enough

and my German which we were using as a lingua franca

was perfect and would mean I could make something

more of myself there probably.


Not wanting to leave on the Flixbus


I hardly slept all night and was a little disorientated. I

simply had such a great time that I didn’t want to grab

the Flixbus home, I got to the Gare du Nord with very

little money left and had to make a decision between

homelessness and going back on the bus to London. I

chose, wait for it, homelessness. I deliberately missed

the bus with only a sugary coke to keep my diabetes

from the door. I decided to seek political asylum as a

pro-European and give it a go in Brussels. Nothing was

to separate me from my beloved EU. I would survive or

die trying to make get my EU passport!

Mum paying for the Hotel Pantone again


Walking away from the horrible and terrifying North

Station area. I popped into the easy jet hotel in Brussels

central and they thankfully let me charge my Ipad which

was on 4%. I wanted to book a room there but mum

fussed around so much that by the time we’d got round

to paying the room had gone and she was so nice in

there too! I had to ask her to ring the Hotel Pantone for

me and book the room again there for me. Thankfully, I

had money in the bank to pay for it myself but as I said

before had left my card at home. I decided to make my

way there.


Witnessing a Gun Battle in the Arabic Quarter or at Least

Some Sort of Firecrackers Going Off.


I was so scared when going down a street heading over

from the Grande Place towards Lousie, upon seeing two

Arabic guys in 2 cars and a series of three to five loud

bangs and a series of shouting matches. I heard

someone shout a name and then the bangs went off. I

was just wondering where it was the remaining bomber

they never found from the terrorist attack meeting his

maker as I heard had happened in recent weeks or

whether as was said when I was legging it back in the

direction I’d just come that it was a series of

firecrackers. It did sound a bit like a shootout. It was

mentioned just recently that he did meet his maker that

way and I was wondering if it were him. It was all over

pretty quickly anyway. Brussels is scary, but beautiful.


Homeless meal provider


I quite by chance came across a woman promoting a

soup kitchen and helping people find work as asylum

seekers in Brussels. She asked me if I could do a monthly

payment at first and then I explained that I was a

homeless asylum seeker myself so she gave me the

address of the soup kitchen in case they needed to help


Nothing to Eat


The hotel manager had put no tea, coffee and sugar in

my room, so I couldn’t have any sugar or dinner having

walked around all day. What kept me alive that night

was that I’d slipped a Meritene protein shake into my

hand luggage before I had gone the 2 days because they

keep my mental health on an even keel. I’d forgotten

about it and hadn’t had it the night before. So I mixed it

up with some water from the cold tap in the bathroom,

which was a swivel tap and consequently rather

revoltingly warm, but it kept me alive. When I woke up

in the morning I got mum to boot me up a ticket home

on Eurostar which left at 16:30. We couldn’t afford to go

any earlier.

Free Day After Breakfast on the Streets of Brussels


I have never been so desperately hungry as when it

came to breakfast that day. I gulped down two glasses

of OJ straight away for the sugar and then stole a

blueberry muffin for lunch (had to) although I wish I’d

risked nicking two because it was a rather long wait for

the next meal. The positive thing about being a

homeless asylum seeker on the streets of Brussels is

that you do move around a lot and see the weight fall

off as it says on the “Slim Fast” advert. I also ate some

cheese and ham sandwiches and had two cups of well

earned coffee.

Egmond Park


I love the Egmond park. It’s a little open space I found

down a side street just near Porte de Hal. In that street

there are a lot of houses from around 1900 marked with

the architect’s name Löw. I was wondering if that were

any relation to Jörgi? To the right about three-quarters

of the way down is the Egmond park. It’s a small open

space that seemed as if it had once been part of a much

larger garden belonging to the summer palace in the

French style of the eighteenth century called the

Sablonerie. It has a little café in and a number of smaller

sculptures, even quite an interesting turn of the century

bin. I liked it because it reminded me of just how much I

enjoy being in European open spaces with trees within

urban spaces. There was only one blueberry muffin, I

hadn’t dared take two the restaurant owner had been

too stoodgy and I’d been afraid of him seeing me do it,

but I enjoyed my blueberry muffin there. Having a bit of

a cry about how much I’d prefer not to go how and how

much this life had belonged to me. When I came home

it formed the basis of a piano sonata that feeling of

being alone in the park.



I took a few photos of the Sablonerie itself and then

moved down into the area known as the Sablon which is

where the Jewish museum is located where there was a

murder and a shoot-out a few months before. It’s a

lovely renovated part of the side that aside, with some

Dutch gabled buildings like in Maastricht. There are a

number of art galleries and antique shops there. I had a

good look round the big antiques centre and furniture

showroom and took a look at some life drawings in a

gallery. There are locks on all of the doors in the Sablon

shops now you have to be asked in I think that is a sign

of the times. In the main square of the area there is a

large cathedral sized church I popped into, but there

was a service going on I didn’t want to disturb. It’s called

the church of our blessed virgin a few streets later down

the hill is a chapel with the same dedication that I had a

look round. They are catholic and of some Polish

monastic order.

Antiques quarter


If you travel towards the Gare du Midi from there you

come to a large quarter blessed with several hundred

antiques stores selling junk and brick-a-brack that are

less posh and up market than in the Sablon. I checked a

few of them out.

Killing time at the station


At the station I arrived an hour or so early for check in

to Eurostar. I printed out a ticket and sat down for a

while and then noticed I wasn’t going to make it I was so

hungry and almost dying of diabetes. I had 59 cents. I

found a supermarket at one end of the station trying to

find something to keep me alive more than anything

else. I found a baguette for 57 cents. Perfect! I devoured

that and was still hungry. Boy, did I know how it felt to

be homeless in Brussels by then. I wondered back into

the square. The army weren’t here today. There was

obviously a lower state of alert. I asked if the café over

the square took English money because I still had the

five pounds that I couldn’t change the day before but

she said she didn’t. Eventually, Eurostar let us into the

departure lounge and I had two sachets of sugar. Not

even they took Euros.


Managing to book a ticket home without my card and

collect it


On the way home I managed to purchase a sandwich

and drink on the train with my five pounds and that

kept me going as well and didn’t require my card to

book the ticket to get back to Colchester as I could do it

online. Luckily, I still had the photo of my card in my

email inbox. I said that I’d lost my card at St Pancreas

station and they printed the ticket out for me at the


Brussels Stephanie