Our last day in Brussels was spent with Bryony lazily wandering the old city squares and sampling small beers and treats at various cafes. The weather graced us with an exceptional opportunity to watch people and appreciate the architecture that dates to the early 1600’s.
The main Central Square is especially beautiful as the various multi-story buildings each once housed a craft guild… the union halls of the day. Each sought to display prominence. Among the Halls were those dedicated to bakers, brewers, weavers, shipwrights, and stone masons, just to name a few.
Belgium is known over the world for its incredible beers, delicious chocolates, lace, and tapestries. We had figured to do our part to alleviate any surplus of the first two categories, but it had not been our intention to entreat either of the latter categories… until we spied the tapestries!
We enjoy art. Indeed the walls of our home make that evident. Many years ago Christine and I were simultaneously captivated by a painting in a Wisconsin gallery. It was a stunning scene of evening mist on the waters of a north woods lake. In the foreground was a long abandoned rowboat that seemed to hold the memories of a now deceased angler and his child. The theme was even carried by the artist into the frame which he had made, and was a piece of art in its own right. The painting was an expensive original, but not beyond our means. To our regret we did not buy the piece. It has ever since been referred to between us as “The Painting”.
We were attracted to one of the tapestry shops and not being pressed to be anywhere or do anything in particular, we entered. There were many attractive pieces, but we had no intention of buying… until we saw not one, but two that conjured up the memory of “The Painting”. It took a mere glance between us to initiate the process of negotiating price and arranging shipping. We know precisely where each of these will hang in our great-room.
Afternoon arrived and the time came to express our gratitude and goodbyes to Bryony, but not before discussing a visit from her and her mother, Rosemary, to Kansas City. She was even included via a video chat. Perhaps next year? Time will tell.
I am writing this at 6am from the bed of our private cabin on the German “Night Jet” sleeper train to Vienna Austria. It is a first class accommodation that includes such niceties as complimentary wine, sweets, and breakfast served to us in the compartment. I am afraid that this wonderful means of travel is slowly disappearing in favor of the 300km per hour fast trains. We will enjoy it while we can.
At Vienna we will board an intercity service that will take us to Bratislava Slovakia where we will be met by our former exchange student “daughter”, Svetlana and her husband Milan. It has been 20 years since we last saw her. There will be much to talk about during the three days that we will be their guests.
Peace Everyone. Pete
I almost forgot to mention “The Manikin Pis”! For some reason that escapes me this diminutive statue of a little boy taking a pee has become an iconic symbol of Brussels. It was cast in the 1600’s and attracts throngs of tourists. Originally naked, the citizens of Brussels take great delight in dressing the little miscreant, yet he continues his endless stream of “urine”.
Kansas City has a similar statue, but it stands virtually unnoticed. Perhaps all that he needs is clothing.