International Travels & Services

Introduction

My Europe Travel Diary (012): Brussels

I arrived in Brussels, the capital of Belgium at dusk on the 29th Sept. 2000. It is said that Brussels is the “capital of Europe” because the headquarters of the European Union are there, and there are about fifteen thousand diplomats permanently resident there. There are more diplomats in Brussels than in any other city in Europe. 

When travelling from Luxembourg to Belgium there is also a vast plain. The view is very similar to that when travelling from France to Luxembourg except that there are more cows and sheep. The blue sky, the green land, the white cows and the sheep formed a series of beautiful pictures, one after another. 

My first view of Brussels was of a few modern skyscrapers next to other buildings, mostly of classical architecture; this gave me a feeling of mystery about the place. 

When I came to what Victor Hugo described as “the most beautiful square in Europe” I was very surprised by the architectural greatness of the buildings, which were several hundred years old. It was so different from Parisian architecture, it had a different style and characteristics, which unfortunately I can’t describe in words, but I took as many pictures as possible. 

There were so many tourists in the square that it made me think - what was it like in the 16th century? As one of the most important wholesale markets in Europe, what would the view have been like then? 

There is a small building on one side of the square that has a figure of a swan on it. This is the place where Marx wrote one of his great works, The Capital, more than 100 years ago. I studied this work three years ago and spent the whole of my Spring Festival Holiday and many weekends afterwards reading it. I found it very difficult indeed and when I finally finished reading it I admired Marx very much. I don’t want to comment on his theories, but I feel that Marx is such a great person and scholar, the theories that he developed are huge, covering capitalism and the whole of human society. These are so great and meaningful that a person needs to spend a lifetime studying them otherwise they will be only scratching the surface. I thought: Marx spent forty years to write such a great work, what great courage and willpower he needed! What was it that kept him going for forty years despite extreme poverty, serious illness and the hugely painful experience of losing his daughter? Was it the powerful motivation of pursuing his dream and his belief in that dream? Yes, I think it was! 

It was there, in Brussels, that I came to understand why, after over 100 years, almost all students of economics in the world still have to study this great work. 

Today, as I’m checking and correcting this article on my computer, I can’t help but imagine how, over 100 years ago, Marx finished this great work with only a goose quill to write with. How do we treasure the advanced working and studying conditions that we have now? How do we maintain a positive attitude and mood while we are on the long hard road in pursuit of our dream? 

Some the building beside the square are the City Hall, the Great Church and the museum. The night view in Brussels is quite pretty, especially the lights on the classical architecture of the Stock Exchange, this combines classical and modern art and gave me an impression of beauty. 

While I was in Brussels I also visited the statue of the young hero William and the site of the 1957 World Fair, and then I took the road to Holland…

--Shirley 

(Wrote on 28th.,Oct.,2000, Edited on 14th.,Oct.,2004)

 

 
 

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