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My secret view: Parking 58
When they built Parking 58, it was a symbol of a new Brussels built for cars. Launched for the 1958 Brussels Expo, it showed Belgians the shape of things to come. No more tramping around on foot or piling into crowded trams. The car was the future.
It now looks a bit tatty. The concrete is crumbling away and the lifts are not as shiny as they once were. They now talk about tearing the whole thing down. But some people argue that it should be preserved, not least because of the unexpected view from the top deck, which is totally stunning.
The most visionary proposal is to create an urban park on the top floor where downtown residents can go to enjoy the sun. It's a brilliant suggestion that would give Brussels something similar to New York's High Line. It may never happen, so enjoy the view while it lasts.
No. 248 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels
My secret street art: Fred Le Chevalier
The people behind the Rue Keyenveld street art wall have commissioned a new artwork to cover the blank concrete wall. Unveiled on 30 April, the new work is a collage by the street artist Franck Duval inspired by the house across the sztreet where Audrey Hepburn was born on 4 May 1929. It is a joyful work that captures the buoyant optimism and tremendous beauty of Audrey Hepburn. Take a look for yourself because it won't be around for ever. It is due to be torn down on 17 June.
Rue Keyenveld 49
My secret street art: Bonom
Bonom is the Banksy of Brussels. Since 2006, he has been spraying animals and dinosaur skeletons in some of the city's most inaccessible places. A giant Tyrannosaurus skeleton appeared on a wall opposite Bozar at the end of 2008. An elephant popped up overnight on a wall of the National Library in February 2009.
Like many people, I have sometimes speculated about the identity of Bonom. I imagined him as a Belgian. He is brave, like Tintin, but also melancholy, like Magritte or Brel. He knows the city will never respect his art, but he carries on regardless.
Now we know his identity. He revealed it recently in an interview with the city paper Brussel deze Week. It turns out that I was wrong. He is a French artist called Vincent Glowinski. He told the paper that he had stopped spraying drawings because the police knew his identity.
But a few days ago, a new work appeared on a high wall above Avenue Louise. It showed a naked woman masturbating. Many people thought it was Bonom's work. He said nothing.
Now a new work has appeared on the side of a block of flats near the Porte de Hal. It represents a skeletal old man who also appears to be masturbating. Bonom remains silent.
His delicate drawings sometimes last less than an hour before someone comes along with a bucket of caustic chemicals to wash it away. Yet Bonom is slowly conquering Brussels with his strange bestiary, creating an alternative history for this slate grey city filled with dull modern buildings.
My secret shop: Plaizier
The coming year doesn’t look as if it will bring much relief to Brussels commuters who struggle every day with overcrowded trams and endless traffic jams. But they might at least gain some small comfort from the images in the 2013 calendar published by Plaizier on the theme of traffic.
Sold in the small art postcard shop in Rue des Eperonniers, the calendar has 12 images showing various forms of transport in Brussels. Some of the pictures recall a heroic age when anything seemed possible, even a regular helicopter service between Brussels and Paris (above). But others, like the photo for August showing people hanging onto a tram for dear life, suggest that overcrowded public transport has been a problem for as long as anyone can remember.
For several decades, Wijnand and Mieke Plaizier have been publishing beautiful postcards and photo books on Brussels. For anyone interested in this city's story, Plaizier offers some of the most striking images of how it once looked.
No. 216 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels
Rue des Eperonniers 50
My secret vote: local elections
Here in Brussels, Belgians have just gone to the polling stations to vote for new city councillors. The campaigns have been interesting to follow, with virtually every candidate promising an almost identical list of policies. They all promise us cleaner streets, safer neighbourhoods, better schools. And we, the voters, know that things will go on much the same as always once the new councillors are comfortably installed in the town halls.
The reality of life in Brussels is seen in the Rue de la Paix, where road works have dragged on interminably, destroying the livability of one of the neighourhood's most appealing streets. We have watched in dismay as the construction workers have turned a lively urban street into a scarred landscape of earth mounds, trenches and fallen signs.
Some shopkeepers have simply pulled down the shutters in despair. But there is also a fighting spirit in Brussels which means that some people find creative ways to fight back. The fashion designer Nina Meert has created a window display that takes its inspiration from the road works. So the mannequins stand in the window surrounded by planners' drawings, battered road signs and concrete drain pipes, a subtle way of mocking the administrative incompetence that is such a depressing feature of Brussels civic life.
Waiting in line in the cold school hall to cast my vote, I noticed a large Tintin mural on the wall above the polling booths. A plaque nearby explained that Hergé, the famous Belgian cartoonist, has attended this school from 1913 to 1919, while the Germany army occupied the city. It made the voting experience somehow richer.
My secret rooftop: Institute Saint Louis
Here is one of the most striking views in Brussels seen from the roof terrace of the St Louis University. I like the contrast of old and new, and the way the sloping line of the shiny glass office building to the left is almost a continuation of the roofline of the grey Brussels town house.
Photographs: Marie-France Plissart
My secret hotel: Le Berger
Oh, la la! An old Ixelles hotel where couples once rented rooms
by the hour has been tastefully renovated.
My secret secondhand shop: Les Enfants d'Edouard
Les Enfants d’Edouard has been selling women’s designer clothes at sharply reduced prices in this grand town house for the past 40 years. The men’s shop, a little less grand, is next door.
Avenue Louise 175 and 177
My secret story: how it all started
In 2008, I read an article that made me very unhappy. It said that Tripadvisor, the travel website used by millions, had asked its users to vote for the most boring city in Europe. The answer they gave was Brussels.
I had recently taken over as editor of The Bulletin, the city magazine of Brussels, so this was a double blow. I was living in the most boring city in Europe and editing a magazine about the most boring city in Europe.
I thought about this for a while and reached the conclusion that I must be the most boring editor in Europe.