Brussels Travel Massive goes L’Amour Fou and De Haus

De Haus, BrusselsTwo weeks ago, our steadily growing group of Travel Massive bloggers, professionals, start-ups and enthusiasts in Brussels gathered for the third time to celebrate Travel. The 13th of January, 2015 gave us a cold, rainy evening, the sort that would prevent most people from going out of their comfort zones. Yet many of us showed up with a fair dose of energy and good humour and we spent some quality, fun time together.

We found the perfect kind of refuge. Our host for the evening was the café/bar L’Amour Fou, my own personal number one burger place in town. L’Amour Fou is first and foremost about fresh, natural, home-made products. This is why everything tastes so good here. The place is always a full house, so if you fancy one of their famous juicy burgers (try Gringo and you’ll want more!), make sure you book in advance. It is also a cultural and musical hub, alternating art exhibitions, vinyl music, workshops, and even movies. One of those one-of-a-kind venues you just fall in love with.

L’Amour Fou gave us the perfect start: they offered us a choice of cocktails, tasty finger foods and generously put on the table two vouchers of 50€ each: one allowing for dinner in their premises, the other to be used in a famous Ethiopian restaurant, KoKoB. Our Brussels Travel Massive participants were invited to enter an Instagram and Twitter competition using the hashtag #bxltravelmassive. The winners of the two gift certificates turned out to be Emmanuelle Hubert and Elena de Marco – both very active at promoting our event online.

Then we went next door to De Haus, where the Gin & Tonic heaven is. Pierre Barbieux, owner of the two places, prepared a Gin tasting session for us, which culminated with a flambéed. What to say about this bar where I now spend most of my Friday evenings? This is where you’ll discover true love and devotion for this wonderful alcoholic invention that is the Gin & Tonic! The place boasts an amazing selection of Gins, among which the floral ones rank high on my list of favourites. But not only: De Haus stands out for its original interior design and the overall laid-back, cosy atmosphere and of course, a really nice and rich food and drinks menu. De Haus “Where the peanuts shells are thrown on the floor” and where you find “Probably the best toilets in Brussels”, as they market themselves, is the Gin-uine experience you just need to dive into. Take note: happy hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 6-8 pm. You’re welcome!

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With two such great sponsors, the evening couldn’t have been better! Thank you for supporting our freshly started Brussels Travel Massive adventure, we all appreciate it!

During the event, I took a step back once in a while, and, camera in hand, was delighted to see that our participants were having a great time in each other’s company and were evidently happy (that was even before the Gin tasting!) to come together and talk travel. Looking forward to our next Brussels Travel Massive event and connecting with even more people from the travel industry! Until then, cheers!

De Haus

A Travel Massive event

A Travel Massive event

Travel Massive meets Rock Salt

Rock Salt Chilli PeppersThe second Brussels Travel Massive meeting took place on November 20th in a very special venue. A new restaurant in Brussels city centre with a funky name opened its doors to welcome us, Belgium capital’s community of travel bloggers, start-ups and industry professionals. Keep this in mind: Rock Salt Chilli Peppers (RSCP, please!) fusion kitchen & lounge. What a welcome we had! I’m happy to share pictures, but I’m afraid they cannot translate the yumminess of the appetizers that an enthusiastic team of five people coming from different corners of the world carefully prepared and explained for us. Just to give you a flavour of the unique culinary diversity that inhabits the place, the restaurant’s Head Chef is from Indonesia (have no fear, the food is not Indonesian-spicy), the Under-chef is Spanish and the three kitchen helpers are from Spain, Macedonia and Belgium. A little universe of cooking artists at work! The bottom line is: what they put on the plates was a treat and there was some finger-liking involved in response to that (I saw it!).

Sumit Gupta, one of the two young owners of the restaurant, was the perfect host. He takes pride (and he should) in picking only the best quality and freshest products on the market to prepare the menu. He buys everything himself from selected suppliers to make sure his fusion food gains respect and high appreciation from his customers.

The Brussels Travel Massive participants in the event were spoiled at Rock Salt Chilli Peppers: the appetizers were bountiful, artistically decorated and no doubt, mouth-watering. And to wash down this amazing food, Sumit prepared some delicious cocktails for us, using a most surprising mix of ingredients.

Needless to say that the attendants to the Brussels Travel Massive event had a great time in the cosy atmosphere of the Rock Salt Chilli Peppers bar and lounge area, cocktail in one hand and appetizer in the other. Just a teaser to stimulate your senses.

Rock Salt Chilli Peppers has recently opened Rue des Cultes 34-36, 1000 Brussel and specializes in fusion food. The menu is rich with a variety of worldwide aromas, so if you are a foodie, or if you simply want to chill with a cocktail in a modern, laid-back and exotic setting, go give RSCP a go! We were very lucky to taste the best samples of what this restaurant has to offer and we thoroughly enjoyed every single bite and sip.

The second Travel Massive meeting in Brussels was a pleasant medium for the travel bloggers and enthusiasts who attended to meet, greet and discover one another, make new connections and why not, friendships. Most of all, it provided us with the opportunity to come together for a friendly talk in a beautiful and comfortable environment and taste some of Rock Salt Chilli Peppers specials, prepared with love by Sumit and his crew.

Travel Massive Brussels chapter is currently seeking to enlarge its number of members and bring travel bloggers and tourism professionals under the same roof to exchange creative ideas and experiences. It aims to build a strong local community of people who share a passion for travel/tourism. They are also on the lookout for sponsors to host further Travel Massive events in Brussels.

A special and heartfelt “Thank you” goes to Sumit and Rock Salt Chilli Peppers for having so generously supported our second meeting with so many goodies on the table! I gotta say, you rock!

Rock Salt Chilli Peppers

 

A Travel Massive event

A Travel Massive event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metro ride in Athens

Athens metro, GreeceComing back from Athens, Greece where I attended a TBEX travel bloggers’ event that gave me a fresh insight into the blogging world, I found myself lost and uninspired: what to blog about the city? The doubt was legitimate. I didn’t manage to see Athens. I only went to the Acropolis Museum and had a 2€ espresso with a view on the famous ruins and took a free ride on a hop-on and off bus, courtesy of City of Athens. The rest of the time was spent at the Megaron Athens International Conference Center, either in the conference rooms or in the hallway.

I did finish my journey with a short evening walk in the Acropolis area though, nostalgically retracing the steps of an eleven-year-old kid who was travelling for the first time abroad: me. I did not forget that my teacher had slapped me for having lost myself from the group, an act which I have ever since perfected through regular practice, especially when it comes to hiking on a mountain. The mythical atmosphere of the place must have distracted me to such an extent that I forgot to follow.

Years later, here I was again, jumping from one metro into the other to come and listen to the TBEX speakers , hoping to suck in all their knowledge just by being present. I wasn’t going to stay long in Athens, not enough so as to feel the pulse of the city and be able to blog about it. Writing about Athens didn’t seem realistic. And yet. When I arrived in Brussels, Belgium and had to take the metro back home, weary and sleepy as I was, I found my story angle.

Factually, Athens was for me an accumulation of underground travels this time. As a result, the metro became the only site in Athens that I could give some observation-based feedback on. As I was waiting for my metro connection in Brussels, it became clear as day that the metro stations in Athens were infinitely cleaner, nicer and overall friendlier by comparison. And by clean I mean spotless, which is easy to notice because they are built with white marble walls and granite floors. On the walls, small representations of gods and goddesses remind the travellers of where they are. In Athens, one of the oldest cities in the world, the myth is present, the legend is brand.

So what if the metro is so packed with passengers when it enters the station that some of them are glued face against the window? You’ll squeeze in, everybody does, eventually. The place is so neat it shines. There’s not one single trace of graffiti spray; eating, drinking and smoking in the stations are also forbidden. Some of them even have screens where you can watch the news while waiting. Let’s have a look at the price as well: a five-day ticket costs 10€. Now that’s affordable. And cherry on the top, in Athens the metros run until 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Brussels metro, on the contrary, welcomed me with a rat hole type of smell that put me off any desire to have breakfast and a general state of uncleanliness – a stain on its status as Europe’s capital city. At the conference in Athens I had a nice conversation with a representative from the Munich Airport about how airports are the business cards of their cities. They are, after all, the first stop on a traveller’s way to somewhere. And first impressions tend to be long-lasting.

The same goes for metros. After the airport, they are most likely what the visitors see next. Or the only thing they see at all, several times a day. Wouldn’t it be interesting, Brussels, to take Athens’ example and clean out a bit the mess that has established itself all too well in your underground world? I would like to come back from my travels to underdeveloped countries and be greeted by clear signs of civilisation, which can hardly be a reality as long as dirt is allowed to pile up with negligence. Shall I remind you that you’re hosting some of the most important European institutions and that it would be interesting to stand out as proud and presentable?

I felt like congratulating the City of Athens on this one. Crisis there may be, but the efforts to maintain a spotless and welcoming underground transportation system have not been affected and this is all to your credit. Next time I will spend more time on the upper level, too.

P.S. And while doing my research, I was pleased to discover that Frommer’s included Athens in the top ten cities with the best subways in the world: http://www.frommers.com/slideshows/818699-the-world-s-best-subways-10-top-cities#slide818700 Well done!