For years, some municipalities and districts in the Brussels Region have decided, on the initiative of their inhabitants, to move towards a more local economy. The expression "acting local" is nowadays used somewhat abusively, but the central idea is to adapt our habits of consumption, production, and interaction in such a way that the first to benefit are the craftsmen, artists, and entrepreneurs located in our direct environment. This global trend is a response to the excesses of globalization and its sometimes negative consequences; it is reflected at the local level by initiatives that deserve to be highlighted. I will try to mention a few of them that may well shed new light on your stay in Brussels. I am going to focus on one of the neighborhoods I know best - Schaerbeek, where I lived for a few years and to which I still feel deeply attached.
The Bar du Gaspi is a real institution near the Josaphat Park in Schaerbeek. In the 1980s, it was a meeting place for intellectuals and activists. Today, and for a few years now, it is a bar-restaurant that serves tapas to eat. But even before that, it is most famous as a cultural place where residents meet to watch the broadcasts of sports matches on big screens, to take part in quiz evenings, or to take the micro during one of the monthly karaoke sessions. I can guarantee you that you will dive deep into a relaxed atmosphere that is full of enthusiasm, and that is going to make you want to party like crazy. For non-French speakers, feel assured, the music is not limited to French songs, quite the contrary: it is truly international and includes all styles.
Situated a stone's throw from the Bar du Gaspi, this space (tram stables literally), which was historically dedicated first to housing horses, used to pull Brussels trams. Then it was used as a tram depot, which was reconverted a few years ago (in 2015) after having been abandoned for almost 20 years. Today, the premises are mainly used for the organic market, which takes place in its halls on Fridays and Saturdays. One can also go to the bistro des Ecuries, have a drink and relax (even on Thursday evenings). But the Ecuries du Tram is also a place that offers all kinds of cultural activities.
The “Parc Josaphat” is one of the many green lungs of Brussels, a very large green area to breathe and relax in the capital region. As soon as beautiful days are back, in spring, this park is THE place where all local residents go. It has everything you need for a change of scenery: ponds with their fish and ducks, endless lawns where families sunbathe or play football, numerous paths that make joggers happy. Just outside the park, the Cocozza glacier sells the most delicious ice creams that you can find in the surrounding area. Within the park itself, a small chalet sells chocolates, popcorns, and other snacks and treats for a quick bite for eating.
Located in the "Plasky" district, on the other side of Josaphat Park from the two places I just mentioned, Woodee is a store created a few years ago, whose initial project was to sell wooden toys. It has since been taken over by another owner, and at the same time opened up its product range to now offer toys, board games, card games, DIY tools, everything that makes children dream. It brings families together around hobbies that create bonds. For every birthday of a child who is in the same class as mine, I go to Woodee's, where the chances are high of finding what I am looking for.
There are indeed many ways to have a good time in Brussels and experience the Schaerbeek neighborhood like a local! Enjoy!
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