Late winter in Parc de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium, redux from 2012.
To have a pied-à-terre in Brussels and to have it be on Rue de la Cigogne.
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All day all over the city every person
Wanders a different city, sealed intact
And haunted as the abandoned subway stations
Under the city. Where is my alley doorway?
— Robert Pinsky, from “City Elegies — I. The Day Dreamers“
There’s a nice appreciation of the city on The Economist’s Intelligent Life website here.
The neighborhood of Dansaert starts about four blocks northwest of the Grand’Place and is definitely worth exploring, especially if you are interested in Belgian fashion design and/or food.
The gallery, Impasse Temps/Tijd Gang*, is staging a series of weekend exhibits on “Pattern(s)” between now and November 24.
On the first day of our recent travels, we were lucky enough to arrive in Brussels on its annual “Car Free Sunday.” The streets of the city were closed to “all traffic with an engine”* from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The streets were full of happy bikers, skaters, skateboarders, and walkers — in about that order. In addition, stands devoted to regional food and drink, organic farming, and ecology were set up from the Grand’Place to the Royal Palace and Brussels Park.
I like this garden (above slides) at the Mont des Arts. Like so many outdoor spaces in Brussels, its design successfully encompasses many centuries.
Under the rows of pleached trees, there were booths selling food and wine from France, so, bien sur, we had fois gras sandwiches for lunch.
A little farther east, on the street between the Royal Palace (above slides) and Brussels Park, sod had been put down over the stone block paving, and people were picnicking on every kind of organic cuisine.
I also really like Brussels Park (below slides). It has very formal wide gravel walkways laid out in the shape of the Free Masonry symbol of an architect’s compass. Two rows of espaliered trees surround its perimeter. But inside, there are forest-style groupings of very tall trees, long berms planted in a natural way with a variety of shrubs, and some well-used grass.
In the afternoon, we went back to our hotel for a rest and found that the street under our window had been blocked off for children’s activities. A local radio station had set up a stage, and, for the length of our planned nap, it featured a teenage punk rock band. I must admit they sang and played (what seemed like) their one song over and over again with some proficiency (I guess).
We ended our lovely day of walking in the neighborhood of Dansaert, along Rue de Flandre (or Vlaamsesteenweg), where the shops and residents were having a street-long yard sale/block party. At no. 17, we ate traditional Belgian food at the restaurant Viva M’Boma** (long live grandmother), which we highly recommend — as long as you eat meat.
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*Except for buses, taxis, some delivery vans, police, and ambulance. The event is always in September, to coincide with the European Week of Mobility. I found one webpage indicating that it will be on September 16 in 2014.
**But they are normally closed on Sundays — and Wednesdays. Main courses are between 11€ and 18€.