(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)
Just off the Grand Place and not far from the iconic Brussels “Manneken-Pis” (little man, peeing) fountain, the Hotel Amigo sits tucked into the corner of Rue de la Violette. And just a block or two up the Rue de la Violette, is one of my favorite treasure hunting spots.
Episode (one of seven sister stores in Europe) is a long, narrow shop filled with second-hand clothing, big bins of vintage scarves, purses, accessories and luggage. The music is loud and the clientele tends to be young and academic. And every time I’m there I find something wonderful.
On my last trip to Brussels I had a couple of hours to myself and set out immediately up the hill to shop. After a few minutes I decided that while the people-watching was fun, I wouldn’t be bringing home anything fantastic this time. I poked around in the bin of scarves but everything seemed to be polyester, not the vintage silk I’d found in the past. I’d scored a beautiful worn leather satchel last time but this time the luggage was all standard roll-aboard bags. Nothing I couldn’t leave without.
Finally, turning to leave, I stopped to take one last look at a rack near the door. There were so many items squeezed onto the rack it was difficult to get a good look at anything one in particular, but something caught my eye. It was a short jacket in a fine, vibrant, orange wool and I tugged and pulled and finally got it out of the crush of garments on the rack.
As soon as I pulled it out, I laughed. I wouldn’t be going home empty-handed. I had my treasure.
The short, aviator-style jacket was mint-condition vintage Versace, in a color that has become trendy again. Originally, it was probably part of a suit, but wearing both pieces would be a bit too orangy for me. The jacket was my size and, at 25 Euro, it was a still deal.
Back in my hotel room, I folded it into one of the compression bags I always carry in my luggage to help me squeeze in “just one more thing” and now it’s hanging in my closet.
I haven’t worn the jacket yet, but with three daughters who shop my closet whenever they’re looking for something a bit different, I know it will have its day on the town sooner or later.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Spokesman-Review Home Planet and Treasure Hunting columns and blogs and her CAMera: Travel and Photo blog, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org