Saturday, July 28, 2007

Brussels sprout

Ceci n'est pas une pipe?!?

My beloved Matisse - didn't photograph well

So that's what I look like as a work of art...

"Och no laddie the wee wolfie has seized ye be the throat!"

"Beat the runaway Pokemon!"

"Just 'cause I is at the Last Supper don't mean I can't pick my teef wif a knife eh"

"I don't want to alarm anyone, but the cow is definitely eyeing up the teeny tiny baby for a snack"

The crazy world of Bosch - well worth a close-up examination

Pity this came out so blurry, because Jesus is definitely going for the armpit fart in this one

Rockingly good medieval art

So French it could only be Belgian

"I don't know... quite what's happened, but I somehow don't feel myself today"

"Right, if I see that young ragamuffin again I'll give him a damn good sawing, wot wot old bean!"

Cathdral interior

Cathedral in Brussels

What's more disturbing, the name or the photo? Mmmm, appetizing

The Mannekin Pis, apparently in Scout mode or something

Grand Place

Grand Place

Brussels Grand Place

"Come sit on my knee, sonny"

My trip to Brussels on Thursday did not start out promisingly - stuck in a queue with the slowest ticket-issuer ever, I ended up doing a mad dash through the underpass to my platform, only to wind up fruitlessly pushing the 'open doors' button as the train pulled away... Luckily enough, there was another train in 20 minutes, and though I missed my connection in Lille, I was able to hop onto the Eurostar to Brussels instead of the TGV, thus arriving in Brussels a mere 45 minutes later than planned, at midday. It takes only a crazy 35 minutes to travel between Lille and Brussels, madness! Once on the train, it occurred to me that the hostel I was staying at would probably ask to see my passport - problem: I had forgotten to bring it. Mere moments later, it occurred to me that the authorities might also ask to see my passport... Oops! Luckily enough, no-one cares about these things in France/Belgium, although after my ticket was checked on the return journey to Lille, the people opposite me were asked for their passports - I can only assume it's because mine were issued in France and perhaps theirs were from another country.

The other thing to go wrong was that the planned meet-up with Kathryn, ex-Chateau employee, didn't materialise because although we had vaguely discussed catching up, we hadn't made any firm plans and she didn't realise that I was actually going to be in Brussels that day. As French Homer Simpson says (for some random reason), t'oh!

Apart from that though, Brussels was... fine. I got the impression that it would be a cool place to live, but it's perhaps not the world's most touristy place. This is much the same way I feel about Auckland - well, apart from the fact that I no longer want to live in Auckland, ha ha.

On Thursday, I just spent the afternoon/evening wandering about, as is my wont upon a visit to a strange city. Brussels earns points for being eminently easy to walk around, which is always good. I even learnt the route for the half-hour walk from my hostel to the town centre, check out my improving navigational skills! Pretty much the first place I wound up was in the Grand Place, the large central square of Brussels. All I can say is wow! The Brussels Grand Place is breathtakingly beautiful, and I know my photos won't show it properly because you need to see the buildings as an ensemble, not in fragmented photos. You can, however, check it out on YouTube, stupid video-taking tourists have their uses after all.

After that, it was time to go on a mission to eat Belgian frites with mayonnaise - determined not to eat in the main square, it took some 20 minutes of walking to find a place, but I was rewarded by a big pack of chips for the exceedingly modest outlay of 2 €. In fact, Belgium seems pretty cheap all round compared with France, where you could easily pay 4.50 € for a pack of frites.

After more not-very-interesting wanderings, it was back to the hostel for a night in Brussels' noisiest establishment, grrr. Still managed to be up bright and early the next day to hit the Fine Arts Museum, which was filled with all manner of cool paintings, with a special emphasis of course on Flemish painters, who have had some impressive achievements over the years. Highlights were a crazy surrealist nightmarish Bosch, lots of beautiful Renaissance works which I remember from 7th form Art History, a room full of Brueghels and a Magritte painting which I absolutely fell in love with. I'm familiar enough with Magritte that I recognised who the paintings were by when I walked into the room, but he's never really blown me away before. But this painting was so amazing that I actually had left the museum, purchased a print of it in the gift shop, then I had to go all the way back in to look at it again.

You can see it here
although it really does it no justice at all, because in person it's an amazing painting.

Also at the museum, I saw the apogee of laziness - a lift with seats in it. And someone was actually making use of them! And later I saw a guy walking around smoking a pipe - photographic evidence to follow, because if you do these things you fully deserve to be secretly photographed and publicly mocked.

Nothing else of note happened in my Brussels stay. Only other thing to report at present is that when I checked the sitemeter to see who's been reading the blog (obsessed) I was interested to find that one of our American friends found his or her way to the blog by running a google search for (in quote marks) "squirrely treats" - the mind boggles that a) someone would find it necessary to track down squirrely treats and b) they actually got a hit (or, in fact, three). Strange people...


  1. Why would squirrely treats turn up your page?

  2. I planned to use them to lure squirrels in Hyde Park, but I never got around to it. Now squirrely treats appears like 6 times!

  3. Amazing!
    p.s. love that painting - it is fascinating how it's night at the lower half and day at the top - must be great to see the real thing.


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