Brussels, Belgium is a city of beauty and history and one I remember for the kindness of its people.
A volcanic eruption in Iceland had stranded us in Amsterdam while we were on our way to see our daughter in England. With all flights canceled for the foreseeable future, we took a college student’s advice to take the train to Brussels then the Eurostar to England.
All travel guidebooks say to never wander looking lost. Proceed with confidence or make yourself a target for thieves and opportunists.
Unfortunately, my resting countenance seems to be either awestruck or befuddled. When we emerged from the train in Brussels, my husband and I did a slow circle trying to decide, now what? We clutched the address page our Dutch concierge had printed out for us, and peered around for an EXIT sign.
An older woman approached and asked, in English, “Do you need help?”
Gratefully, we handed over the paper with the address and explained. She turned to the gentleman she was with and together they tried to decipher Dutch directions in rapid fire French. She called her companion, Papa, but we discovered he was her husband.
After a discussion flurry of pointing, headshakes and murmurs, I realized marriage looks the same the world over. Directions deciphered, they led us out of the train station and pointed the way to our hotel.
We thanked them and we each went on our way. The next day we were in England with our daughter.
This morning, Brussels is in shock from three bombings. Once more, we watch innocents suffer and a country struggle to recover. But I’m reminded of the beauty of two Belgians who took time from their day to extend help and compassion to tourists.
In the face of those who seek to destroy, we should remember the world is also made up of people who reach out with kindness and grace.
I hope the lady and her Papa and their family are safe and that beautiful Brussels recovers quickly from this assault.