Flitting between the endless possibilities of what the world has to offer and how my life fits into it is something I find myself doing all the time, for better or for worse. Sometimes they don’t always collide, but then sometimes they do. (And the sound of cosmic matter chiming together can be faintly heard somewhere in the distance).
A few years ago, on what was probably any ordinary day, I stumbled across a photo, it was one of those photos that makes you scream ‘Take Me!’
City hall in Grand Place, Brussels (The Culture Map)
I discovered I was looking at a photo of the Flower Carpet festival in Brussels, something I had never heard of before. If flower power was a drug then I was on the trip of a lifetime, I thought to myself.
Faster than I could say my own name, I hammered the keys of my laptop to see if it was still there, crossing my fingers and toes. But my heart sank when I read it only takes place every two years over one weekend.
The year was 2010 which meant I had another two years to wait – two whole years! But when 2012 came and went, my hopes of seeing the Flower Carpet were put in a little box, and placed on a shelf in the back of my mind.
However, fast forward to 2014 and I got thinking about the Flower Carpet again. I had a look at the dates, 15-17 August – there was nothing in my diary. The occasion was not going to slip through my fingers again. I checked the Eurostar, found some affordable tickets, and booked it as quickly as I could.
Did the fact that it only takes place every two years over a couple of days make it appear even more attractive to me? Guilty.
On the opening night of the Flower Carpet thousands of people crowded in the Grand Place (the main square) to see the final results of months’ worth of planning put into action. A firecracker of music, lights, swarms of people, beer, and waffles drenched in chocolate encapsulated the square and drifted through the side streets.
The square itself is one of the finest in Europe, a bold statement of different architectural styles maintained within an essentially Gothic and Baroque appearance. All the buildings in the square are protected and have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Acquiring a good view of the carpet for a wee short arse like me was not meant to be, but there was still hope… I saw lots of little children on their daddies’ shoulders, and for a brief moment I thought about going up to someone tall and asking for a shoulder ride but I avoided what inevitably would have been an awkward moment between two strangers. Plus, Belgium beer was in full flow so for that reason alone it was not the most sensible idea.
Although my view of the carpet was blocked for the majority of the time, I did manage to squeeze myself to the front for a few pictures:
Flower carpet festival (The Culture Map)