Coming Out of Left Field

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Belgium blogging, continued

The wife and I are back in the States after a fun but very active vacation (so active that I didn't get a chance to do a second post from Belgium). Rather than go into a blow-by-blow account, which would take too long even if I weren't jet-lagged, I'll just cover the highlights:

Brussels -- we took two trips into the city. The first time was to visit the Musées de Beaux-Arts. We spent our time there looking at the Flemish Primitives and some of the Belgian moderns; the museum has a particularly fine collection of Magrittes. It was an enjoyable few hours, but we did wish that the artwork had been more clearly labelled (most did not have explanations). Also, whole sections would close down at certain times, so every couple of hours museum staff would come along and quietly but firmly usher us out the doors.

The other time we went into Brussels, we wandered around the city for a bit (tried to find a certain church, but couldn't), then gave up and went to the Comic Strip Museum instead. There's lots of wonderful material there, way too much to see in one visit, so we concentrated on Tintin and the animated films. The latter section had a Steenbeck on display. Just looking at it made my fingers itch, which is probably a good sign, seeing as I'm probably heading back to film school in the fall.

L'Abbaye de Notre Dame d'Orval - This required several hours in the car, but was worth the trip. Orval is famous for its beer, and its brewery is open twice a year for tours. Unfortunately, because of deadlines (picking up kids, dropping off traveling companions), we didn't have time to see the rest of the abbey. We did take home a huge loaf of bread, which helped provide breakfast for the next several days.

Chocolate: Mmmm, mmmm. Enough said.

Walking: Not exactly an exciting activity back home. But when you're trying to navigate down cobblestoned streets that have a) very narrow sidewalks, b) many eye-catching ornaments, sculptures, etc. and c) several cyclists hurtling in all directions, putting one foot in front of the other becomes quite a challenge.

Seeing an American government official: This was something I forgot to mention in my previous Belgium entry. When we were walking around the day after we arrived, we noticed a number of policemen hanging around the town hall. It turned out they were waiting for this gentleman. The ambassador arrived shortly thereafter and did the standard meet-and-greet pictures with town officials. He didn't talk to any onlookers, but did direct a wave in our general direction.

Overall it was a good trip, though tiring, and it did end on a sour note, which I won't elaborate on here. Let's just say that yes, a rose by any other name does smell as sweet, but it's still a rose, damn it, so call it one and have done with it.

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