Belgium

The new face of travel in the 21st century

The new face of travel in the 21st century

Nowhere in the world is truly safe anymore; that’s the sobering reality of life in the 21st century. Like the Paris attacks last November, I learned about the recent events in Brussels through social media. Facebook is the new way of getting one’s news. Simply from seeing individuals’ profile pics sporting the flag of another country in solidarity, you know that something horrific and senseless has happened.

The new face of travel in the 21st century

Just as the Paris attacks struck at the heart of normal, everyday life (a concert venue, a local restaurant), in a way the Brussels attacks  struck at the heart of the institution of travel-the departures terminal of an airport. The place that thousands of people around the world pass through every day  to get to their new destination. The place that with the exception of countries like Israel and Afghanistan has nothing to protect it against a heinous act of violence. (On a side note, I read a sobering article about security at Israel’s airports, in which visitors have to go through multiple security checkpoints before even arriving at the departures terminal.)

The new face of travel in the 21st century

In 2010 Brussels was the first city I visited on my European trip (I’d also travel to Bruges, the Venice of the North with all of its beautiful canals, and Paris). While sure, Brussels lacked the outwardly stunning beauty of a setting like Bruges, it was still an immensely charming place to visit. That first moment when you step into the famed Grand Place is one of those travel moments you’ll always remember; the frites and gaufres (waffles) that are available on every corner allowing you to indulge whenever and wherever you wish. Even something as mundane as street signs I found neat to look at and photograph since they were listed in both French and Flemish, Belgium’s two official languages.

The new face of travel in the 21st century

On our last day in Brussels, D and I decided to make the trek out to the Atomium. Originally constructed for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, this neat looking structure is over 334 feet tall (102 meters). As one traveler to another, I don’t recommend going. While I got a couple of photographs out of it (along with dismal gray skies, unfortunately), the inside was quite disappointing, the exhibits outdated. However, the real regret of going was that it took quite a bit of time to get there-a long ride on the metro and then a bit of a walk from the station, along with a flash mob of youths who made a portion of the ride quite uncomfortable for us with their slightly menacing behavior.

The new face of travel in the 21st century

From the pictures you see of Brussels today since the attack, the city resembles a war zone. A major part of its airport is in shambles, soldiers with massive guns are patrolling its streets, and a general uneasiness has filled the air, not likely to dissipate anytime soon. But life must go on, and so must travel. Travel to this fascinating European capital and any other city in the world being threatened and inundated with ignorance, fear, and violence. For if we don’t, “they” win. And that can never happen.

The new face of travel in the 21st century

Brussels, Paris, Ankara, Istanbul-the world is with you, now and forever.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” –Mark Twain

The new face of travel in the 21st century

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Bridget @ A Traveling B
    March 29, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Lovely post, Julie. It’s a sad and sobering time for travel. Glad you were able to visit Brussels – it was still one of my biggest regrets not making it to Belgium during my study abroad time.
    Bridget @ A Traveling B recently posted…Perfect in ProvidenceMy Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      March 29, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks Bridget! And yes, when events like this happens it effects so many people-the travelers obviously but also the many people who depend on the institution of travel for their livelihood.

      I would definitely love to return to Belgium-4 nights there was not nearly enough even with it being a tiny country 🙂

  • Reply
    Diane Barrowsmith
    April 1, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Hi Julie,
    Great post. Brussels really is an incredible city (especially at Christmas – if you’ve not been over there at that time I’d definitely look into it!) and it’s so sad that this has happened.

    I’m not going to lie, interrailing through major European cities in a few months is a bit nerve wracking at the moment – but having been in Paris when the attacks happened there, you just have to get on with it and know that by keeping going – you’re not letting them win. Fear is what they want.
    Hope you and D are good xx
    Diane Barrowsmith recently posted…6000 MABA TR – Day 9 – Golden showersMy Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      April 5, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Hi Diane,

      Visiting the European Christmas markets is high on my list of experiences I want to have (if only the “pond” wasn’t so large 🙂 )

      I couldn’t agree more with your words-you simply must keep going, period.

      I’m currently getting over a terrible case of food poisoning I picked up on my weekend travels, other than that “big” hiccup, stuff is well.

  • Reply
    JoAnn0924
    April 7, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Such a powerful post Julie! These monsters want to destroy beauty and peace wherever and whenever they can. You are right, we need to travel because if we don’t “they” win. Your Mark Twain quote is so appropriate here.

    Thanks for sharing your visit to Brussels with us. Love that we can share these experiences through blogs like The Red Headed Traveler! Keep up the great work! 🙂

    • Reply
      Julie
      April 7, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you Jo Ann! Yes, that’s one of my all-time favorite quotes because its meaning and importance will never lessen no matter the time nor place.

      Brussels is a beautiful place. Definitely overlooked but to me that makes it all the more special. And as always, thank you for your kind words and encouragement 🙂

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