Pictures from our Xmas trip to Belgium are now in the gallery. Click any image to be taken to that gallery.
|Brussels||Brussels @ Night|
|Ice Sculpture – Bruge||William The Sheepie|
One of the things I promised myself is that I would photograph this trip to the best of my ability. I would strive to utilize not only my skills and knowledge, but also fully exploit my hardware. This included shooting some extended exposures like the ones I shot in Brussels which required me packing my sturdy Manfrotto tripod and lugging it around the city.
I also wanted to shoot some HDR, and while I should have shot those with a tripod, I ended up shooting them handheld. The results (I think) are very good.
Built in image stabilization is my friend.
Having some fun with some pictures I took at Autoworld in Brussels. They just lend themselves to fake tilt-shift foolery.
Today is our last day here. What a wonderful trip it has been. We’re a bit weary, but our spirits remain high. Tomorrow we go to the airport and make the long trek back to America.
We decided to catch the Metro to go out to the Cinquantenaire Arch in Jubelpark.
The sky was overcast for the first time on this trip, but no rain.
Connected to the arch are three museums, two of which were open so we decided to check them out.
The first was the Autoworld, an automobile museum that has a VERY impressive collection of cars and motorcycles.
There were some unbelievable cars on display. I bet Joe Linbeck could easily identify most of them.
The other museum was the Royal Army and Military History Museum which has a collection of military memorabilia that spans 10 centuries of military and technological history.
A huge hangar filled with military aircraft is the absolute highlight of the collection.
After we were done with the museums we caught the metro back to the hotel and then headed out to take care of one last thing.
Cynthia came up with the idea of starting a new tradition. We are going to take one of Mr. Zippers feathers with us whenever we travel and let it fall from the highest point we can get to.
We took the feather she was carrying to the top of Place Poelaert and let it go. Fly high Mr. Zippers!
That’s about it for this trip. We are going to take it easy this evening and forego the New Years festivities. We’ve got an early flight in the morning.
Fly high, Mr. Zippers!
We slept in till 9:30 this morning. Guess we needed the sleep. Got up, had breakfast and headed of just to walk the streets and take in the sights.
We made our way to Notre Dame de la Chapelle, the oldest church in Brussels, it dates back to the 13th century.
I asked Cynthia if we should go inside and she said “Well, yeah. It’s not like we have that many 13th century churches back in Houston.”
We walked down one scenic street and back up another as we just marvelled at this wonderful city.
After a few hours we headed back to the hotel and then found our way to an Italian restaurant we had eaten at the night before and had lunch. Oddly enough, the music playing inside was American country featuring Willie Nelson and Marty Robbins. Still, great food and good service.
More walking around took us past the Chocolate Museum
Then we found our way to the Museum Of Musical Instruments
It’s housed in a very cool art nouveau building and contains just about every musical instrument you can think of.
You get a pair of headphones and when you stand in front of any given display, you hear a sample of the music made by the instrument you are looking at.
We laughed and laughed after I named this thing the “Conflugalhorn”
I guess we are getting pretty punch drunk from fatigue.
We saw old instruments of all kinds and joked about whether or not Al Cofrin of Istanpitta could play them or not. Lutes, udes, pipes of all shapes and sizes. I bet he and Abby Green would have been in early music heavan.
I did find one instrument I would love to have for use in my band
We had a full day and came back to the hotel to rest before going out in the evening for some night photography. I’ll write about that in my next post.
We woke up early to get an uncrowded view of the Mannekin Pis.
Brussels residents and tourists alike love this little pissing boy. His image is used in all manner of tourist trinkets as well as advertising for everything from Coke A Cola to hamburgers at McDonald’s.
We also took advantage of the lack of tourists in the early hours of morning to rub the statue of the mayor of Brussels, Evrard ‘t Serclaes for luck.
In 1356 he was tortured and killed for refusing to hand over the city keys. Now, people rub the statue for good luck, which explains why it is so shiny.
From there we purchased tickets for the train to Bruges. And yes, I’ve seen the movie. But that’s not why we went.
We decided to go to Bruges to revisit our favorite chocolatier, Dumon, which we discovered during our previous visit several years ago.
We were also interested in seeing the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival.
When we got off the train I was wondering how hard it would be to find the location of the festival. Then we saw the sign which cleared it all up.
What we did not expect, but soon found out was that the festival was held inside a refrigerated tent complex that was cooled down to a cozy -5 degrees Celsius. That’s 23 degrees Fahrenheit for us stubborn non-metric system adopting infidels.
As it was, the outside temperature was only 27 degrees Fahrenheit as we stood in for about 1/2 hour to get into the exhibit.
It was very crowded and the line moved very slowly and toward the end we were quite cold, especially in the footal areas. But what a site to see!
Giant ice doors opened up to a small dark tunnel that lead you into room after room of sculpted ice.
It was spectacular to see, and oh so very very cold.
We got out and caught the bus to Bruges.
Bruges was way more crowded than when we last visited and the market was pretty cheesy. We walked about and even got a little lost.
We did find the Dumon Chocolate Shop and I resisted the urge to defenestrate myself from the bell tower, a la “In Bruges”
When we boarded the train to go back to Brussels someone came on the intercom and said something in French and Dutch that we did not understand. The people in the seat next to us were from Barcelona and explained to Cynthia in Spanish that the train was delayed due to technical problems.
After awhile there was another announcement and everyone started getting off the train. We didn’t need an translator to explain this part.
We followed the crowd to another platform and caught a later, much more crowded train back to Brussels.
Woke up and had breakfast. Bundled up and headed to the Museum of Ancient Art and the Museum of Modern Art which are basically in the same place. The much anticipated RenÃ© Mageritte won’t be open until June of 2009, curse the luck!
The Museum of Ancient Art had quite the collection of Peter Paul Rubens paintings. We’ve seen his work in previous travels, but it still quickens the heart to stand in front of one in person.
Many other great masters represented. Enjoyed it immensely as well as the Modern Art Museum.
After that we headed back to the hotel to recombobulate and then headed to the other side of town to visit the Comic Strip Museum which is housed in a very cool art nouveau building designed by Victor Horta.
This gave Cynthia a chance to exact her revenge on David Shephard for defaming her beloved William.
After that we headed off in search of the infamous Delirium Cafe, a bar that holds the Guinness World Record certificate for having 2,004 different beers available at all times.
We had a few lambics which were quite tasty and then headed off to dinner and then back to the hotel for some rest.
This is an awesome trip!
We thought we’d only be about an hour but we ended up staying most of the day. There will be many pictures to see after I get back home and process them.
The Atomium is really cool to see. It looks like one of the aliens from War Of The Worlds or something. Quite a site.
After returning back to the hotel we re-combobulated and headed back out for more festive festival action.
One of the cooler things they have here are these VERY elaborate carrousels. Looks very Jules Vern
We hiked down to the skating rink which is festival central with the crystal Christmas tree and a heated restaurant tent.
On our way back to the hotel for the night we stopped for warm wine and waffles
Tomorrow we are planning to visit a few museums and stay a little warmer. For now, bedtime as we are exhaustulated.
We’ve arrived in Brussels without incident. The plane ride went smooth and we easily sorted getting the train from the airport to Central Station for a mere â‚¬2.80 a piece and and before you know it, we were checking into our hotel which is literally across the street from Central Station.
I was amused to see a coke machine in the train station featuring Manekkin Pis.
It’s cold here. VERY cold. High today was right around freezing. But the sun is out! I’ll take it!
One of our first stops was Leonidas to get some chocolate.
We did a little walking around but were were pretty exhausted so went back to the hotel to take a nap.
After sleeping for a few hours we headed back out. The sun was down and we wanted to see the light show in the Grand Place. It was really something to see. Moving lights set to music.
I’ll post a video later.
I’ll say this, swapping lenses and shooting with a tripod in this cold is not the most fun. But I am determined.
Now it’s off to bed to sleep in earnest. More tomorrow.
This trip to Belgium is our Christmas present to each other.
We leave in an hour.
William is coming with us.
Happy holidays, everyone!