With only one big adventure to go, we’re nearing the end of my time in Belgium. I’ll be posting the last of these travel notes this weekend. Meanwhile, here are a few random images from Brussels.
The Grand Place
The Grand Place, surrounded by buildings that date from the 17th century. is Brussels’s magnificent central square.
It gleams. Many of the architectural features are gilded, and the gold paint glows in the sunshine. These pictures don’t really capture that glow, possibly because it rained every day I was in Belgium. (No problem. I wasn’t in Brussels to work on my tan, or, to be more accurate, to work on my beige.)
I Found a Record Shop!
I used to spend rainy Saturday afternoons making the rounds of the bookshops and record stores near Dupont Circle. There were more than a dozen of them Before The Internet, but only one of the bookshops is still open. Finding this place in Brussels was the first time I’ve seen a record store in years.
The musicians pictured on the storefront, clockwise from the center, are Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, and Jim Morrison. It took me a while to identify Morrison, and until I noticed the harmonica, I thought Bob Dylan was Lou Reed.
“Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here”
This Big Brother-ish image dominates one of the staircases in the Old Masters Museum.
Théâtre Royal de Toone
The Théâtre Royal de Toone, an historic Brussels puppet theatre, can trace its origins to the 1830s. Depending on the performance, the dialog is in French, Dutch, or the local patois. When the show is something familiar, like Hamlet or Carmen, you can enjoy the performance without understanding every line.
The puppet theatre is in the attic above a rather shabby but extremely popular pub. It’s one of the oldest in Brussels, and it has that run-down, lived-in feel of a classic dive bar.
During intermission, you can visit the small, one-room display of historic puppets.
Cheese Cake Cafe
This place looked so American, so not-European that I walked right past it. I didn’t come to Belgium to eat hamburgers or pizza.
And then I turned around and walked right back.
The allure of cheesecake is impossible to resist.