Saturday was a chilly, but sunny day.
Armed with two shopping bags full of fresh veggies and fruits from the Flagey market, I head over to Café Belga.
My little girl and I decided to drink a cup of hot chocolate. I’m a bit disappointed that some lady in front of me just snatched the last croque monsieur away.
Still, it’s always nice to enjoy the fantastic atmosphere of Brussels most successful bar. This place is always full. From early morning to early morning, with just a few hours of cleaning in between.
There you can find regulars who, like me, have been coming there for the past decade or more. Also, like me, this spot has become almost a second living room.
I inevitably always meet people there.
It can be friends of mine or my wife’s. And of course, I also meet with many of the thousand expats I’ve had the pleasure of welcoming during our local events or trips to one of 250+ destinations.
Sometimes they spot me, sometimes, I spot them. Sometimes we look at each other and think “Where do I know that guy/gal from?”.
This time, I noticed a lady sitting right across from me, but didn’t immediately recognize her. Her hair was now shorter and curlier, and it was a couple of years ago since I last saw her. Only when I left she stood up and said “Edgar!!!”.
We talked a bit. She had left Brussels to live with her new Belgian boyfriend in another nice town in Flanders.
Too bad we couldn’t talk much because she was on the way to meet someone else. In fact, it was a person she met several years before at one of the coffee mornings we’ve hosted at Expat Club.
I still remember that coffee morning well…
We started at 10h30, as usual, and it didn’t end before 13h30 (normal is 12h30). After that, 5 or 6 people or so continued their conversations, and from what I understand, they remained friends since.
A few days before this chance encounter, I received a message from a previous guest on many trips. “John and I are in Cologne this week, returning to Brussels tomorrow for the weekend to see Melissa, Peter, and Miss Elisa (the baby).“
This almost retired couple met a young couple from Eastern Europe several years ago during one of our trips. And since that trip, they became good friends. Who could have thought such a friendship would arise?
Our trips bring together a great many different people together. And sometimes (more often than not), great connections are made. Friendships for sure.
I’ve known of many of our fellow Expat Club members who meet regularly for meals in Brussels. Others have friends over at their homes. Even some who found love. And yes, there are already “Expat Club” babies crawling around our blue planet.
There’s one group that bonded over finding a decent cup of coffee in Venice, and now they meet regularly in Brussels for dinner, discovering new cuisines every time.
And there’s that moment on the first day of a trip when one or more people see a familiar face in the crowd. Which is then followed by a cheerful “so nice to see you again!”
Many of you who read this still have not joined us on an event or trip. It could be your schedule has not allowed it so far. Or perhaps you’re not really comfortable joining without knowing anyone.
Here’s my invitation to you: take a leap, join one of our trips.
Yes, you might discover a fantastic destination, and yes, it will be a fun experience you’ll never forget.
But it might also be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!