“Are you getting up or what?” Danny wasn’t happy on the other end of the phone. It seemed that Kenny had forgotten to change the time on his mobile from German to Belgium time, or so he told me. Ten minutes later we were downstairs, raring to go. It was 9am. Whilst we were awake, Brussels certainly wasn’t. Tourists gave us a wide berth as we marched across the old town wielding our croissants with menace. Street cleaners were clearing away the detritus from the remnants of a lively Saturday night and the noise of their work echoed through our collective hangovers. Was it too early for a beer? Despite all the rules in the EFW charter, about being awake on foreign soil for more than 30 minutes and passing open drinking establishments, we stoically continued on our journey We had a train to catch, heading South East from the capital to Liège, the economic capital of Wallonia.
Today was the day of the ‘Hate Derby’. The rivalry between the two biggest teams in the French-speaking province of Wallonia isn’t in the league of any team and Anderlecht but it has still been spicy enough in the past few years for the Belgium police to class this as a ‘Bubble’ game and thus the few hundred Zebras fans to be bused direct from South Brussels to the ground.
Liège was the only venue I hadn’t visited during the fantastic summer of Euro2000 and in the past decade it had somehow eluded my attentions. But few could ignore the outstanding architecture of the Liège-Guillemins railway station. For those with a bit of an interest in the work of Santiago Calatrava will see on first sight that the €300 million new structure is up their with his best work alongside the terminal at Bilbao Airport, the Cuitat de las Arts i les Ciences in Valencia and Turning Torso in Malmö. Continue reading