When I first arrived in Brussels in March 2010 to look for a house for me and my wife I explored the city like a first-time tourist in Paris. I must have walked a thousand miles and seen almost everything.
I wanted to live close to Place Châtelain. Several friends told me that was a nice place and I had actually been there once before for some. So I put my car’s GPS literally on that square in Ixelles and drove and walked around to look for the black/orange “A LOUER” signs on the houses.
Probably the farthest I went from Châtelain must have been 2km or so, not more than 5-6 minutes on my GPS. Have a look at the map of the area that I probably “covered” those days by car and foot. In fact, I had seen major parts of Ixelles, Saint-Gilles, Brussels, Etterbeek and Uccle. Actually I had even unknowingly ventured into Watermael-Boitsfort and Woluwe Saint-Pierre and Woluwe Saint-Lambert with real-estate agencies that took me for a way too long drive, trying to rent me an apartment I would not want to live in…
From my experience I can only say that it was the greatest introduction to Brussels. I discovered that the city was much more than the Grand Place and EU district. In the nineties, I visited those places a few times, but now I could finally taste the diversity of all other neighbourhoods.
Cutting a long house-hunting story short, after 25 visits I choose an apartment between Louise and Flagey at just 5 minutes by foot from Châtelain. I immediately felt home, not in the least place because I knew exactly where I was living relative to all the other nice places and neighbourhoods I visited the days before.
This experience has in some way been key to the philosophy of Expat Club, which I founded three years later. I came to believe that to truly feel at home and be part of Brussels you have got to know the city. Literally! You have got to go out there and and see as much as you can.
Expat Club tries to help you to get to know Brussels better by organising many events throughout the city. Bars, restaurants, museums, parks, neighbourhoods and companies, we’ve seen so many already. Just have a look at map below.
If you would like to discover the city also and at the same time meet some really nice people, then you are with Expat Club at the right address. Almost every week we explore some other place in Brussels.