As I have previously mentioned, WordPress – the host for this blog – shows you a bit about what people have searched for when they found my blog. (They give no clues as to who has been visiting the blog, they just show the search words.)
Anyway. One of the latest searches that has driected an unknown reader here is “is brussel area around gare du nord safe”.
Well, I’m sorry if you didn’t find anything on this blog about that, so I’ll give you a straigh answer instead: No.
There is no such thing as “safe areas” in a city the size of Brussels, and the area around the North Station (Gare du Nord/Noordstation) is notoriously sleazy. In fact, the same goes for the Central Station (Gare Central/Centraalstation), where a teenager was murdered some time ago for his MP3 player, and the South Station (Gare du Midi/Zuidstation), a bunker which is the shoddiest, dirtiest, sleaziest, ugliest, creepiest excuse for a station I have encountered. (I usually change from metro to bus there on my way home from the EU quarters; yesterday, I spent over half an hour there waitingfor a bus, so believe me.)
The Gare du Nord area used to be where the prostitutes went in search for their clients, and the usual criminality that comes with such garbage accompanied it. In recent years, the area has been cleaned up considerably, but I’d still be cautious going there, especially after dark.
This isn’t a problem confined only to Brussels; in any major city, keep your wallet in your front pocket together with your passport, and if you’re really smart, carry an extra wallet with some petty cash and a few fake credit cards that you can hand over if the worst comes to the worst. Avoid carrying large sums of money. Be cautious responding to strangers in public places. Etc etc, just plain common sense really.