This is my third post about my 4 days in Brussels, and I haven’t even talked about the Tintin Museum (or the weird city, Nouvain le Neuve, where its located) or Ghent, which is possibly one of the most beautiful places in the world.
While in Brussels, we searched for every Victor Horta building we could find. Apparently the city went through a heritage-trashing phase in the 1960s, and a lot of incredible old buildings were lost. But many have been reused – an old department store became the Comic Book Center, and the Musical Instrument Museum, which is surprisingly cool, is in an old Horta commercial building as well (that’s the floor in the lobby on the bottom right, above). And some of the detritus from the buildings that were destroyed have been re-purposed, most notably in the Horta Metro Station (above). I couldn’t believe how many beautiful details there were on even the more mundane buildings – incredible balconies, transom windows, doors, ironwork…its so sad that Art Nouveau was so short-lived as a movement, even if it is decadent and wasteful. I love it.
The other highlight of the time in Brussels was the beer. Belgian-style beers are called lambics, and use open-air fermentation. That means they just let the beer pick up whatever yeast happens to be floating around in the air and ferment that way; the result is a sour sort of flavor (seeing as its the same process used to make sourdough, that’s not surprising). Lambics are often sweetened with sugar or fruit, but we brought home 5 bottles of the darker stuff (our favorite, Faro, can explode if not consumed in 2-3 weeks, so maybe its just as well that they were sold out). The drinking in Brussels was awesome.
We went to the Carillon brewery (loved it. Amazing. Don’t miss it); the Delirium Tremens complex (five bars adjacent to each other, all selling Delirium products); and to a number of other more low-key establishments, including a crepe place where I got cider in a teacup. I thought that was delightful. We also tried ginevre, a Belgium gin-derivative that is delicious if you like the taste of paint thinner. And the best part is, it was super cheap (the beer, not the paint thinner). I hadn’t anticipated taking multiple trips to Belgium, but we are talking about a trip to Luxembourg via Belgium, if only to stop off and bring more beer home with us.
As I mentioned a few posts ago, Ian and I were recently in Belgium, where I took 676 photos in four days. It made me realize how quickly Cambridge has become my home – while I’m certainly not immune to its charms, it very quickly became just the place where I happen to live. I saw all sorts of mundane things in Ghent and Brussels that completely delighted me. The best example was the door handles/letterboxes that I saw on lots of the doors, particularly while doing the Victor Horta walking tour. The variety was incredible, and some were so intricate and Art Nouveau. I couldn’t get enough.
In fact, I had been taking photos of balconies (not sure that’s gong to yield a good collage yet…) when I pointed the door handles out to my husband. He said “why don’t you make a collage of those?” and I said “I will, but you’ll be sorry” – we zigzagged the street looking at door handles for the rest of the weekend, until I finally just gave up and walked around like a (sort of) normal person.
Over Christmas, my sister and I talked a lot about how organizing a holiday around food was a completely reasonable thing to do. I decided to treat my long weekend in Belgium as a test case and I can tell you that, while my cheeks are fuller than they were four days ago, it was an absolutely brilliant time and I can’t wait to eat my way through somewhere else.
We spent two days in Brussels and two days in Ghent. Brussels is a city that reveals itself slowly; I think living there is probably much more fun than visiting – which is saying something, because visiting was great. Above, photos from the Comic Book Museum, a Victor Horta Art Nouveau staircase, Cathedrale de Saint-Michele-et-Gudules, a waffle, the Carillon Brewery and the Delirium Tremens Bar.
I’m in Ghent, Belgium, right now. I meant to schedule a post on Friday before I left, but, well….fail. I’ve been driving my hubs crazy taking photos, though, so I’ve got some sweet photo-collages a-coming. I’m also hopefully going to be doing some more traveling this spring (although cross your fingers for me; it’s not finalized).
In the meantime, here is 25 minutes of heaven in the form of Justin Vernon. Aural ambrosia, I’m telling you.