Archive for the ‘belgium’ Category

last europe photos

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

The biggest vending machine I have ever seen (in the Brussels train station).

Rue Mouffetard in Paris.

La Grande Arche at La Défense.

Big huge mirrored ball between the Arche and the Christmas market.

At Père Lachaise Cemetary:

(Is that straight out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or what?)

Jim Morrison’s grave.

The cat I made friends with hangin’ out near Jim Morrison’s grave.

I followed the cat to this abandoned sepulture off the beaten track which someone had set up as a little kitty sanctuary. I loved it.

Oscar Wilde’s grave. There’s a little plaque saying “please respect the memory of Oscar Wilde and do not deface this marker,” but can you imagne Oscar Wilde being anything less than thrilled about all these kisses?

I gave him a kiss, too; it seemed like the thing to do.

This little street in London was completely lined with bookshops!

Brits like their personal space, I guess.

Three bridges over the Thames.

The Tate Modern and the Millenium footbridge.

The spider is a statue called Maman (”mom”) by Louise Bourgeois, who has an exhibit in the museum right now.

I think these birch trees are actually part of the “World as a Stage” exhibit I mentioned, but I can’t remember how or why.

The Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, which is the big main entrance hall (and in my opinion a seriously awesome space), is often a site for installation art. This rift in the concrete floor is called Shibboleth and is by Doris Salcedo.

That’s it, guys. Here’s the view out one of the rear windows of my plane home:

belgium photos

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007


We just found awesome playgrounds everywhere. This one was, like, explorer themed. There was a jeep with a flat tire, jungle palm trees, buried treasure, and this toy microscope! Unfortunately, it did not actually magnify.

Also this sweet rope jungle gym.

This was on the side of our train to Brussels. Strawberry + tooth = best friends forever?


The beautiful square near the train station. It was full of people.

There were tons of groups of little kids around. We never really figured out if it was a special school day or what, though. At one point some of them asked us if we had something on the bottom of our shoe, like on a treasure hunt–they had to find people with something specific on their shoes?? I dunno.

Pretty much my reaction to Brussels.


Devin covered in powdered sugar.

Apparently this fountain is famous. I was more amused by this Russian couple trying to take their own picture in front of it. (Devin asked, in Russian, if they’d like him to take their picture, but they said no, probably because his hands were covered in chocolate and waffle.)

This is where Brussels started to be beautiful yet, uh, gritty.

I REALLY should’ve taken a picture of the explanatory placard about this sculpture. It’s supposed to be a critique of Christianity or something. How ridiculous does it look in front of that grand old building?? Very ridiculous. I admire it for its sheer ridiculousness.

The detail on this carved wood… argh what’s the word!… in Brussel’s handsome cathedral was pretty amazing.

Back near the train station and onwards to France! Nope, I did not get a picture of the sketchy dude in a sketchy ski mask in the sketchy park.

whirlwind (barcelona, spain, via everywhere else)

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Oh my goodness, you guys! I last wrote in Amsterdam, which was probably only a few days ago but feels like a world away. I mean, hell, I woke up in the Hague yesterday morning. I fell wholly and unexpectedly in love with Holland. I kept going, “I love this country! I want to live here!” Then today on the train in the south of France I looked out and saw a yellow house, and I thought of Portland and had second thoughts. Traveling is about the going home, after all.

Anyway, after eight hours on two trains from Paris, I’m in Barcelona, home of Gaudi, Miro, and Picasso. I can’t wait to see it in the daytime. The hostel I’m at (one of those huge ones, but I’m a block away from a Gaudi building and there’s a gorgeous staircase) has free internet, but I can’t get at the USB slots, so I can’t share any of the eighty bazillion pictures I’ve taken out train windows and of Amsterdam, Den Haag, Antwerp, Brussels and Paris since buying myself a sweet new camera (merry Christmas to me). So (and ’cause I’m sleepy and telling you everything would take about a million years), here’s some highlights until I get a chance to do so:

…hitchhiked from Amsterdam to not-quite-Den-Haag. A Canadian woman living near Den Haag with her Venezualan boyfriend (who works for Shell) picked us up after a whole bunch of Dutch drivers grinned and shrugged at us or gave us thumbs up. She told us that we were the first hitchhikers she’d seen in the three years she’s lived there. Anyway, it was exciting for me ’cause I’d never hitched before, and it was exciting to Devin ’cause the Dutch were so responsive to us! We stood on the on-ramp and giggled a lot. And got a ride through hellacious traffic to a train station where the ride right into the center of the Hague was only 2 euros.

…met Caitlin, a Reedie friend of Devin’s who I didn’t know, and Lauren, who’s studying in Paris in the same program as Caitlin, at their swanky hotel. They were in the Hague for the Holland Dance Festival. We all went out to dinner and had a grand time. Wandered the city, which I liked almost as much as Amsterdam. Tons of culture, art EVERYWHERE, and this dance festival thing which may have been misleading (as far as the city in general goes) but which was awesome to see everywhere.

…wandered in an extensive, forested park and found the coolest hidden playground ever.

…smoked a joint on a very very windy beach.

…saw a dance concert for 8 euros, walked back to the hotel talking about it.

…woke up very very early to get on a train to Antwerp/Brussels/Paris. Had tea in Antwerp. Spent a few hours in Brussels, which was WEIRD. When we first got off the train, it was MAGNIFICENT. We walked a few hundred meters to a gorgeous square surrounded by incredibly beautiful old buildings and delicious waffle shops. Then we wandered some more and the incredibly beautiful old buildings remained, with the addition of trash and squalor and grafitti and, finally, in the dirtiest sketchiest park ever, a dude in a fucking SKI MASK, at which point I said “let’s go to Paris” and Devin said “yeah” and we went. There were also huge groups of chanting schoolkids everywhere wearing what appeared to be scout uniforms or something, which added to the vague post-apocalyptic feel of the whole city. Also my feet were killing me (the sad truth is that my beloved boots and I are growing apart. Tempers and soles are wearing thin) and I knocked over Devin’s bottle of chocolate milk in the train station and I needed some protein or something (after waffles for lunch, heh) and I was in a foul mood. (I got better.)

…wandered Montmartre trying to find the hostel I stayed in when I was 17 by feel. Succeeded! And they had plenty of room!

…wandered Montmartre some more, up to Sacre Coeur. Looked out over the city.

…this morning we walked down to the Seine and through the Tuileries and around the Louvre. Then Devin walked me to the train station and we said goodbye. I wrote on the train:

“There is a part of me that is already lonely, and part of me that will be glad to set my own schedule for the next little while. There is a part of me that still wonders why I am here on this train in Spain 5000 miles from home, and part of me that wants to keep wandering forever–the part of me that’s saying ‘Thailand next! Brazil! New Zealand! India!’”

Well, I took this trip to travel alone, and get past the loneliness to whatever comes afterwards. Maybe that’s ridiculous when I’ve still got people to visit who I can’t wait to see. And anyway two weeks ago I was saying I had no idea why I took this trip. Which is true, but not in a bad way. I’m having a fine time. I’m confused by my feelings, which change as fast as I keep moving from place to place (Devin said, “we are so mobile! Tonight you’ll be in Barcelona and I’ll be in Dublin!”).

There’s a train strike in France on Wednesday, so I’m in Spain at least until that’s over, unless it shows signs of going on for ages and I decide to take a 16 hour ferry to Italy instead of going back up through France to visit Bonnie and Robin next, which is my plan. Any advice on other cool places to visit in Spain? How about Portugal? I met a girl on the train today who’s living here who said Lagos is supposed to be really nice.

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