Trip Start Feb 21, 2007
46Trip End Ongoing
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The city itself is quite pretty and contains various architecture from the 16th/17th centuries up to present day buildings. It houses some traditional looking Belgian buildings and hotels from the 17th and 18th centuries especially, but more and more you can find those being torn down to be replaced by modern buildings, to the locals dismay. Still..... there is the grand Grand Place which the large town hall faces onto, as well as old merchant stores and cafes. Then there are high-end (mostly chocolate) shopping galleries nearby where window shopping is the most common, and farther on the Palais Royal where their king still works and the bordering Parc aux Bruxelles - which at the moment is displaying a photography exhibit of overhead photos from around the world with the theme of environmental awareness... very interesting!!!! On the outskirts you have the atomium, a exact replica of an atom, but so big that you can dine at the restaurant inside and get a view there as well (really cool), as well as the place where the king and queen live and more parks etc etc..... Mostly I found myself happy just to wander about either eating something or thinking about what to eat next.
Speaking of food, one evening I met up with another friend at his house for dinner. Keep in mind I hadnt yet met his wife, so when the door opened I presented the babysitter with flowers, thinking it was his wife (it wasn't). She was like, uh, why? and me: pourquoi pas?? (why not?) and then she's like, uh, perhaps these are for th mother of the children??? mais oui!!! then she tells me: dude, I'm the babysitter (in so many words). Nice to know I'm still totally capable of making a complete ass out of myself on a regular basis. Yessss!!!!
Back in the city, they have a superb museum of musical instruments, which both a fantastic collection and displays. You get a headset at the beginning, and then within the exhibit on each of the many floors, if you stand on certain spots in front of the majority of the cases, you pick up a short frequency of music, playing tunes appropriate for that instrument or kinds of instruments int he corresponding case. Usually there's about 3 or 4 examples... so for instance maybe in the accordion/concertina display case, you would hear various kinds of accordions or a concertina on separate short tracks playing maybe a waltz or polka from england, then a reel from an irish musician, etc.... this of course in the folk instruments floor.... by far the most fascinating. The other floors were more 18th and 19th cen. instruments and music, and really lets be honest, after the third piano forte or its relatives, I've had enough. In fairness they also had cool things like player pianos but there wasnt any music to hear for that one, and they had harps, though not nearly as many as those in the Stadt museum of Munich. Ah well.
The entertaining part in all of this of course, is that because you can't necessarily hear the music other people are listening to in front of a different display case, you get the pleasure of watching them bounce around in wonder... this one little girl was so cute and kept dancing in front of certain cases where specific music played that she must've loved because she kept returning to the same ones over and over again. However it got especially funny when a bus load of french-speaking senior citizens came in, plugged into their headphones, volume too high, and start talking loudly to each other trying to figure out what the hell they're listening to, or trying to dance together in front of certain cases or complaining because it's really bad music for some cases.... you get the idea, but altogether entertaining for me.