Monday, May 16, 2011

Brussels: Metal and Glass, French Fries and the "Chicken In Disaster"

These photos are from a trip to visit my good friend Samuel, who is currently living and working in Brussels - the capital of the European Union. Mario and I stayed with Samuel for 4.5 days and had a really fun time.
We first met Samuel while he was studying abroad for 1 year in Oslo on an ERASMUS stipend from his homeland of Switzerland. Now, Samuel is on a fast track to success - having already run for public office in Zurich. He has worked for 2 international law firms in Brussels and is now applying to graduate school for an advanced degree in Law.

We began our first day of sight-seeing in Brussels with a tour of the Palais de justice de Bruxelles. Just outside, there is an overlook with a stunning panorama of the whole city.

Samuel and Mario outside the Headquarters of the European Commission.

The Headquarters of the European Commission

The Atomium in Brussels: Originally built for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, tubes connect large spheres with windows. When standing inside the top sphere, 335 feet above the ground, you have a pretty good panoramic view of the city.

The Atomium represents a unit cell (or diagram of the spatial arrangement of atoms) of an iron crystal...

...magnified 165 billion times!

We saw a free circus performance! It was a very clever show, all of which was set backstage during and after a circus. The two actors were funny Italian clowns.

The next day we took the train to Brugge. At one point I was looking out the window and noticed this sight: a parking lot that stretched for several blocks and even included a covered section that was almost as large, completely FULL of...

bicycles!! Cool! Apparently the Flemish love their bikes!

Entering Brugge

There are a lot of canals through the old medieval city, which was mostly built during the 12th - 15th centuries. We saw Michelangelo's "Madonna and Child" (1501-1504) in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, Church of Our Lady.

Portrait in Brugge, for which the photographer put his life in danger in the middle of the street, blocking incensed honking drivers! Thanks Sammy.

Interesting neon design over a french fry stand at a fair in the old city center

Only an hour or so after this picture was taken, we attempted to get dinner at an all-you-can-eat pasta for 3 Euros restaurant in an otherwise very expensive district of Brugge. That restaurant was full, so we tried another one down the street. We sat down and the waiter gave us menus, but before we even had a chance to open them, he came back asking for our order. When I asked for more time he said "You're taking two tables for three people, you order for three people! You order now!" So we said "Okay, I guess we'll leave then." After the unbelievably rude waiter snatched our menus away from us and we got up to skulk away hungrily, we looked back at the sign to see what the name of that place was anyway --- "Chicken In" the sign said. Ha! It was probably a good think after all that we "chickened out" on Chicken In.

Back in Brussels: sights on the street

The Manneken Pis: Dutch for "the little man peeing." This 24 inch tall sculpture was created in 1618, though its origins (a stone statue and mythological back-story) purportedly date back as far as 1388.

An interesting clock near the Cinquantenaire Urban Park

This art nouveau building used to be a department store and is now home to the Musical Instruments Museum.

Spiraled sculptural seating. Public art abounds in Brussels - especially in the metro stations.

A mystery castle in the moonlight

1 comment:

scott davidson said...

I had a chance to combine my two loves in life recently and had a two weeks' holiday in wonderful France, to which I had been before, and had loved so much. I took a little Renault rental car and headed off from Paris, to the Palace of Versailles, to Chartres then southward to sunny Provence, via the Auvergne region, with the Songs of the Auvergne playing repeated on the CD player.
Magnifique, comme toujours. I saw many art galleries and followed the footsteps of artists, like poor Vincent Van Gogh.
Back home all too soon, I ordered a canvas print from, choosing this painting by C├ęzanne,, to remember my trip by.