These last few weeks have been a blur of travel, making my access to the internet non-existent. However, I’m back in civilization, but before I kick it into high gear and break down the quality travel tales, it’s time for another installment of Bottlepopped!
This edition features Yamina El Atlassi, one of my personal gurus and go-to people for anything related to Brussels culture. She knows everything and everyone, and can offer fun tidbits touching upon the city’s history to nightlife and eating suggestions and all the quirky anecdotes in between. You can find her all over the city, covering a number of items (mainly in French) on different blogs, working at the Strictly Nice Nice events and manning the Brussels Film Festival. The film fest is coming up soon and always has a fun atmosphere with a quality selection of films, so if you’re in the fair Iris city at some point between June 8 to June 16, it would be worth checking out.
Name: Yamina El Atlassi aka Yelyam
Hometown: Brussels (and Genval, in Brabant Wallon)
Blog: For personal ones (for text and pictures) and collective ones (about Brussels), all info and links are on http://yelyam.org
In your opinion, what’s the oddest aspect of Belgian or Brussels culture?
The fascination for…pee…
We find the posture so aesthetically pleasing that we have three sculptures: Manneken Pis, Jeanneke Pis and Zinneke Pis.
We believe that peeing is so sacred that we even have urinals against a Church…
We feel so joyful while peeing that we have a Pispot Festival.
We take peeing so seriously that we make sure we don’t fail to do it by drinking a lot of beer.
What is the one thing you’ve always wanted to do in Brussels or Belgium that you haven’t had a chance to do yet?
Well, I would like to do the entire ‘”Promenade Verte” (not at once of course, but at least bit by bit!)
Favorite place to grab a drink/hang out?:
So many! It depends on my mood, the weather, the period of the year and the day…
When I’m feeling good, but very busy on a weekday, Café Belga to have a drink while working and Bar du Marché on a Sunday afternoon to listen to jazz while having a cinnamon tea.
When I’m in love and wanting some intimacy on a winter evening, I head to Le Cercle des Voyageurs to talk and order a tea pot for two, preferably the chai. For dancing with friends, I go to Mr. Wong to dance…even if the party hasn’t started yet.
I eat cake at Arcadi when melancholic. It lets me forget about my life while watching others because I can watch all kinds of people (from tourists to old locals) and listen to them.
And for a little shopping addiction, I visit Cook and Book to lose my head in the middle of all the books.
What’s the one thing about Brussels or Belgium that you wish people knew?
I would like people to know that despite the politicians (and unfortunately more and more people) who complain about “the-other-so-different-community”, that it is obvious that the two cultures are deeply integrated with each other.
It’s not evident when you are in the country, but as a French speaker I realize the connection every time I talk with a French person. I realize then that there are some words and some ways of thinking that come from the Flemish culture, and that because of this, the French just can not “get it”.
What is the one one restaurant/cafe/bar that characterizes Belgium?
La Régence, Place Fernand Coq.
It’s an old place. The decoration may seem a bit depressing: it’s the kind of place you would have found everywhere in Brussels in the past…. and the past that may not always be full of good memories.
The population is very eclectic: all ages, types and styles coming with family or friends : a lot of old people and a lot of young people.
It’s so cheap and we Bruxellois like Brussels to stay this cheap, but it’s not the case, except in these kinds of places. The “Bolo” (spaghetti bolognaise) is at 6,90€ and the Wednesday lunch menu is a beefsteak with salad and fries for… 7,5€ !
The menu offers a range of various dishes and you can eat or only have a drink or a crepe, or a Brussels Waffle in the afternoon.
The waiters are all dressed like classical waiters: white shirt, black paint, a vest and an apron…Oh, and there’s also a “flipper.”