Half an hour drive from Lille to Brussels.
Four stops on the Red metro line to the Porte de Namur station, right next to the Chambord Hotel.
Walk down Rue de Numar. Coffee at TICH, cool kids vegetarian big orders at the shared counter. Opposite a similar café called JAT. Then to the Musical Instrument Museum. Horta Building ‘Old England’. Cast iron structure glued with roomy nuances. The dark rooms are full of the most extensive collections I have ever seen …. far better than Berlin, and more spacious and better presented than the Finnish Museum in Turku. Not too many African items, no mini piano etc. But the environment is amazing. The brass section is dominated by Sax family experiments with trumpet and reed instruments. Saxhorns include ‘trombone’ with seven bells and six valves. If I were sax with oboe like a double reed. Many tubal variants are as high as the player.
Also glass harmonica based on a hand cranked spindle mounted with a set of glass bowls set, and a piano-sized gurdy girdy with many rotating bows operated by a piano keyboard. Northumbrian Pipe.
Eat a Caesar salad with jumbo shrimp in a fabulous roof top restaurant with glass partout. Impressive views of the city, chimney pots and Mont Art. Finish visiting by looking at the keyboard and mechanical instruments.
Then go to Grand Square, Mannekin Pis and his female partner Jeanneke Pis.
A bear and wine at Cirio Bar descends from Grand Square. Sitting next to a club, each member brings a small dog. Waiters with thick or round necks, all male, in vests, white shirts and black trousers. Drink a bottle of conditioned Westhalle dubbel beer, made by the Trappist monks.
Then go home via Metro to rest, before going to the trendy, quiet Italian shop / restaurant, Ars Vinorum near the hotel. I have gnoccetta with lentils, saussice and salsa. Very good. More expensive than Lille.
The second day we walked to the Magritte Museum. Public entrances lead to a number of Beaux Arts museums. You then go down to the ground floor and move to the new building opposite the MIM.
Take the elevator to the 2nd floor and exhibit based on the timeline of Magritte’s life. What surprised me was that he painted in various styles throughout his life. Only late in Brussels, removed from surrealist colleagues that he began to use the sky, bowler hats, pipes, pigeons, apples and paradoxes of light during the day / night.
There is a pair of key pages of the exercise book in which he writes the basics of his work exploring the exchange of images, words, reality and representations of reality.
Another disclosure, for me, is continuous identification with other practitioners in pamphlets, exhibition publications, magazines and posters. Seen making statements of practice and sharing of authorship give effect to the artist, of course, when pondering again.
Then go on the Art Nouveau route, on foot, to find houses, repair shops and a large number of other Horta buildings nearby in the districts of Ixelles and Matonga / Matonge.
This house is full of nice touches, but fewer features are reserved beforehand than some AN we’ve seen in Helsinki, Moscow, Stockholm. Horta is good at using iron with bolts, together with kit-based, e.g. but the end result is less pleasant and more repetitive than we see elsewhere.
We followed one of the four paths detailed in a pamphlet purchased at Horta’s house. A fun way to see several different residential areas. Substitution influenced by the 19/20 century shows a connection with movement, a number of which require gentle care before they disappear.
Matonga fabric shops are adorned with colorful printed fabrics; The front view of the deli shop is full of large vegetable roots, okra and ginger; and hair salons which were filled with evidence of Little Africa’s knitwear all in one district. And a few minutes later we were back at Porte de Namur and our hotel.
We went to Le Trappiste for dinner moules frites. A large restaurant bar with booths inside the grille, formality arrangements suit men in uniform: professional waiters provide excellent service and, usually, a smile and gentle attitude. Big scallops, I envy Marion sauce ….. so many sauce choices. I chose white wine sauce over cream, curry, garlic, cheese, chili, and so on, but the effect of the M sauce sauce sample is very interesting.
On the last morning, we walked to the Musée de Bande Desinée, another Horta building, built as a cloth shed with glass ceilings, open balconies, iron goods adorned with sand, providing a beautiful environment for very well presented exhibits, exploring history of comic strips and illustrations. I became aware of how much planning and compilation went into the comic strip ……. I needed to take more time and do more research in my illustration / graphic work.
Back through the chocolate shop where the idea of a small gift was curious to staff who wanted to make us part with lots of money.
The Chambord Hotel turned out to have been well-placed for our exploration, the breakfast was quite fair (but not coffee). The attractive Art Deco building is right next to the metro station and not far from Mons Art where art galleries abound, the Musical Instruments Museum and delightful descent through the park to Grand Square.
Eurostar is on time, smooth and smooth. Train travel to England is rather slow and noisy compared to European transportation but a bottle of wine and sandwiches from M&S purchased at St Pancras makes travel easy.