Travel

A Fair by Any Other Name in Eupen

 

June 24, 2014

Even though Sara knows some German, I’m a bit nervous. I can barely manage French, let alone Dutch, and now German too? Yeesh. Belgians must be very well educated.

There is a noticeable difference between this region and the other places we’ve visited so far. Architecture is sleeker, colors are lighter, greenery is more abundant. But there’s also a familiarity that reaches beyond this continent. I’m reminded of the small towns back home we frequent on the weekends, the ones where there’s nothing specific to see, yet everything is worth exploring.

We park next to St. Joseph’s Church, a small, modest, neo-gothic church that was renovated about 5 years ago.

She tells me about the history of Belgium and how they ended up with the different regions as we head uptown, where the Marktplatz is located.

Walking up the main street, the first building we come to is St. Nicholas, a renaissance church at least 100 years older than St. Joseph’s.

 

A little further north is the House Grand Ry, where the government of the German-speaking community has been located since 1984.

Right next door, a wonderful smell draws us into Kockartz Backerei, where we purchase an assortment of truffles and a drink. The weather is perfect today, so we relax into one of their comfy outdoor tables and watch people and time go by.

On our way back down, a street on the left catches our eye, bright and cheerful stands popping up on either side. Upon closer inspection, they reveal a balloon popping game, a ring toss, and most importantly, fair food. 

And I know, I KNOW, we just had those delicious truffles at the bakery, but six bites of chocolate do not a lunch make, so I cave in and buy these little sugar-dusted spheres. For research purposes, of course. It’s hard to go wrong with sweet fried dough, whether it’s at a fair in Eupen or downtown Mexico City. Some things are just universal.

There’s also to be a fireworks show much later tonight, which we won’t be around to watch. Looking at the colorful balloons of globally recognizable characters, it’s hard not to draw parallels.  So call it what you want: a funfair or a Jaarmarkt, a kermesse or a kirmes, everyone needs streetside entertainment from time to time. Kudos to the Belgians for being way cleaner, though.

I’m wiping off my powdered fingers as the street starts to slope downwards, making me stop and pay attention to what I’m doing. Haasberg street is quiet and still, St. Joseph’s church poking through the trees and over the tiled roofs. We’ve almost circled back to the car.

We reach the fountain at the entrance of Temsepark just as Arlette and Alphonse are calling us to come back to the car.

And just like that, it’s back to our regularly scheduled French community.

 

Andrea Wintergerst

Based mainly in Colorado. Loves cheese, rain, and starry nights. Can usually be spotted in the wild wearing a Spirit Jersey and balancing two cameras. Often laughs and cries at the same time.

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