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Feeling nostalgic? 10 photos of what Brussels looked like before the shutdown

13:29 17/04/2020

It's been a month - a long month - since midday on 18 March, when we were told to stay at home in the fight against coronavirus.

We've given up many things that we miss. We've also lost some of the everyday nuisances that come with living in a big city.

The Bulletin has dug deep into the archives (a few months, at best) for a reminder of what life in Brussels was like before the shutdown.

1. We had demonstrations - more than 1,000 a year. The protests were often lively, sometimes involving tractors and/or milk.

2. We lived in one of the most congested cities in Europe. Traffic jams were terrible and there was no way the problem would change overnight.

3. Brussels' bustling nightlife needed regulating. A "night council" was set up to tackle problems such as noise nuisance. Police patrolled Place Flagey at closing time, where everyone was out enjoying themselves.

4. The Belgian government's most important health advice was about what we eat. Let's remember, in these times of masks and social distancing, that we should try to eat 125g of wholegrains, 250g of fruit and 300g of vegetables each day.

5. Planes would fly over our homes from 6.01 in the morning until 22.59 at night. There was a never-ending argument about flight paths.

6. Before queuing for food became fashionable, a long line of hungry customers waited patiently to get inside Wolf, Brussels' vast new food market.

7. We didn't speak to our neighbours. We were willing to offer help, but were afraid to ask for it.

8. Brussels city council considered scrapping the marathon because "only" 7,000 people took part.

9. Brussels was on everyone's summer travel list, thanks to an international press article praising the hip bars and shops around Ixelles cemetery.

10. Back when the city still had tourists, two rival shopkeepers downtown were arguing about who had the right to sell waffles.

Photos: Belga

Written by The Bulletin