02 November 2007

on the move again

Writing this evening from a mist-shrouded Brussels, where I am visiting my friend L for a bit of cultural escape. Yesterday I flew to Amsterdam on an orchestral plane, full of a Russian symphony and all their double basses. Ten minutes after collecting my suitcase I was on a vintage Dutch train zipping through the farmland outside Amsterdam.

2some hours later I was in Brussels, where L collected me and whisked me to her book-encased apartment in a neighborhood of the city that's so cool the New York Times just wrote an article about it. She's proven an astounding guide so far, with a first meal of delectable crepes, side trips down medieval alleys, and today, a browse through a fantastical fantasy-palace\atelier exhibiting textiles, tiles, ironwork, lamps and ceramics in a mysteriously decayed once-grand villa in the center of town. We stopped at the lace museum, strolled through a peculiar flea market near her house, inspectioned of 1930s shoes in a vintage shop and peeked inside another one containing a full carousel, and enjoyed the most delectable hot chocolate ever known to humankind. It was the kind of chocolate that made me unable to focus on conversation, so flavorsome and subtle it was.

Then off to view the neighborhood crammed with the best of Belgian Art Noveau architecture. After all those years looking at it in hundreds of art history slides and books, I got to stand across from the house itself. We wandered the streets, spotting other curlicued balconies and painted walls, scrollwork on coal grates, and then stumbled upon a street that must have been used recently for a movie, the remains of the fake snow still clinging to the trees and whitening the cracks in the brick sidewalk.

We wandered home through a garden still ablaze with autumn, and as the mist thickened and added sheen to the cobbled streets, we bought waffles (the Liege type, all crusty with sugar glaze on the outside, eaten plain in a square of paper). Home in the dark, it's time for dinner on this rich and incredibly full day.

I was enchanted by Amsterdam the first time I saw it, but it's taken this second trip with a proper and enthusiastic guide, but now I am making space in the rankings of cities to love for Brussels.


Professor Batty said...

... beautiful, just beautiful...

Northern musings said...

I love Brussels, somehow to me it was like Paris, but just better... still haven´t worked out why, maybe I just want to be a eurocrat when I grow up. Your descriptions - as usual - are just wonderful

tsduff said...

I loved Amsterdam - but since we were only there one night I hardly had a chance to see anything at all. Lovely post - thanks for your post.

Food, she thought. said...

wow. this is stunning. mom and i spent some time perusing the website of the house. there is nothing more lovely than a museum that's a house. gamble house, frida kahlo's house, rodin's house. i would love to see more pics of brussels as well.



ECS said...

batty: thanks. It's how I feel about Brussels now too :)

northern musings: I think I might agree on your ... comParison, but I'll hold back until next month when I'll be in Paris again. Brussels is a really fun city though.

tsduff: I was only in the airport this trip but for some reason Schiphol is this iconic Gateway to Freedom for me. It's the airport of my first real business trip in Iceland so I associate it with independence and seeing new things.

Liz: I'm SO sad we didn't manage to go inside. Horta was one of the best parts of all the Art Noveau units I ever did in school. Still, that whole area of Brussels is SO cool!
As for photos, I didn't take so many of Brussels itself but there's photos of a lot of other areas in the next blog post!