26 Apr, 04 > 2 May, 04
5 Apr, 04 > 11 Apr, 04
29 Mar, 04 > 4 Apr, 04
15 Mar, 04 > 21 Mar, 04
8 Mar, 04 > 14 Mar, 04
1 Mar, 04 > 7 Mar, 04
23 Feb, 04 > 29 Feb, 04
16 Feb, 04 > 22 Feb, 04
9 Feb, 04 > 15 Feb, 04
2 Feb, 04 > 8 Feb, 04
26 Jan, 04 > 1 Feb, 04
19 Jan, 04 > 25 Jan, 04
12 Jan, 04 > 18 Jan, 04
5 Jan, 04 > 11 Jan, 04
Brussels Semester 2004
Tuesday, 27 April 2004
i don't have enough time to write about all of spring break. we had a good time in paris, saw all the major sights. i saw a guy propose at the top of the eiffel tower.
italy was the best place i've ever been. it was beautiful, great food, just nice all around. we met up with distant relatives outside rome, which was probably the highlight of the trip for me.
lots of work for the next couple weeks, though. we're going to trier for art class, but i'm not sure what we're seeing there.
Friday, 2 April 2004
follow me around
Thursday, 1 April 2004
yikes, sorry for the two week delay. we went to berlin from the 18-21. it was different since it was with pribic (as in, not for art class), and lafayette funded it (lafayette=money=nice hotel & food). thursday and sunday were spent on the bus; it is about a 9 hour drive from brussels. those days were pretty much shot. the scenery was nice, though. there are tons of windmill power generators (turbines?) out in the countryside, and lots of small towns. we didn't really go through any big cities.
thursday night we had a big dinner at the hotel and then dr. pribic took us out for a walk. we went past the statue of frederick the great and saw some historic sites on the eastern side. our hotel was right in the middle of the historic district, in what used to be east berlin. we also saw the protestant cathedral and the different public buildings. it's interesting there because there are two of each building: two opera houses, two theatres, etc. from when they had the wall.
friday we took a bus tour all around the city. we saw a lot of monuments (like the ones honoring the dead Red Army soldiers, which germany has to maintain), the charlottenburg palace, and two parts of the wall. the first part was a small stretch that was pretty run down. they had excavated below the wall and found the basement of an old S.S. building where people were tortured or killed. the second stretch of wall we went to was the East Side Gallery, which was painted by local painters. it's still in relatively good shape save for a little graffiti.
that afternoon a couple of us walked down by the park and this expo center (that some people call "jimmy carter's smile"). we also went to the top of the reichstag, which has a big glass dome on top. the guard seemed to be upset about my belt setting off the metal detector. guys grumbling in german just sounds scary. it's such a rough language. anyway, we went by some art museums and walked along a canal and eventually found ourselves near checkpoint charlie, which was the checkpoint maintained by the americans. i posted a picture of the sign that was up there. a little past that there were all these guys on the sidewalk selling old soviet merchandise, like the big fur hats and little pins with lenin or the hammer & sickle on it.
the night was quiet. we had dinner, i went up to the room and was laying down watching cnn and just fell asleep. i woke up around 11:30ish, but everyone had left already so i just went back to bed.
saturday we visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp. it was a little cold and rainy that day. it was much more serious than anything we'd been to on this whole trip. the museums were all very well done and it was very respectful.
in the afternoon we went to some museums on our own. gilbert said we had to see the egyptian museum, so we checked that out. it was really nice. they had the head of Nefertiti there (the sculpture), and a giant arch taken from one of the temples. i wish i could have spent more time in there. the museum system is great: you get a ticket for one of the state museums and it lets you into any of the other 60 state museums that day. plus free audioguides (which i've come to love). with the student discount we got into 2 museums for only 3 euros (it could have been more if we had more time).
the other museum was the pergamon museum. it was massive. they rebuilt the entire front of the pergamon temple and had all the freizes from it. they also had a replica of part of the gate of Ishtar from the city of Babylon and a piece of this ancient wall from... i forget where. we had to go through the museum in about an hour. it was loaded with ancient artifacts from thousands and thousands of years ago - just the stuff i like.
that night we found a little italian restaurant. it was really good. the next morning we made our way back home to brussels.
things have been pretty slow since then. school is still going good, brussels is still pleasant. this past weekend was quiet; i think we needed that.
i saw Belle and Sebastian at the ancienne belgique on tuesday. it was incredible; just an all-around fun show. on the third floor of the AB they were screening the B&S dvd, and they also had some exposition on album art, i think. you got so much for your ticket, it was great.
well, spring break's coming up this weekend. it should be amazing. hopefully i'll post along the way.
right now it's time for dictators, though.
Thursday, 25 March 2004
photos from berlin
are up. i'll have a post on the trip soon.
Monday, 15 March 2004
villers-la-ville and dinant
things have been pretty quiet lately. i just wanted to make a quick post about my weekend. saturday i went to visit villers-la-ville, a small town about 35 km from brussels. there are ruins of an abbey that was built mostly in the 12th and 13th centuries. it was fun getting there, i had gone by myself and got to stroll around the woods on the way there, which was nice. i have pictures of the ruins posted. it was an enjoyable day walking around there and then heading back to the town, which is in no way meant for tourists, so that was refreshing.
sunday morning i went to dinant, a little down about 85 km from brussels. i saw the church, which had a really neat looking steeple, and then rode a cable car up to the citadel on top of this mountain. then i went to see the house of adolphe sax (inventor of the saxophone). i walked down the other end and saw their courthouse and then headed through this little square to make my way back. i got these cookies at a bakery that looked like they must have been a specialty of the city because they were everywhere. they were good, but really really hard to actually bite into. my jaw was sore after eating one, so i stopped.
i guess that's really it for now. we're going to berlin on thursday until sunday - i'm looking forward to that.
Thursday, 4 March 2004
antwerp, amsterdam, and delft
antwerp was nice. it was snowing when we got there (you can see in the pictures). we went to the plantin museum, which had all kinds of printmaking things in it and had two gutenburg bibles from 1461. we did more walking aroudn and went to another Notre Dame cathedral. this had some big rubens paintings - the raising of the cross and the descent from the cross. lunch was at a little restaurant where we all crowded in and had some good vegetable soup and then beef stew. after lunch we went to st. charles borromeo church and chapel. from there we walked down a main street which was just modern stores - then to ruben's house, which was a little uneventful since the big parts were closed.
on to amsterdam - we got there at night and had it to ourselves. the hotel wasn't bad at all. friday we had a boat tour on the canals which was really neat. we went to a hidden catholic church inside a house. it's from when the protestants took over and cleared out the cathedrals, so they would hide the churches in the houses. it was cool - you walk up the third floor and all of a sudden there's this elaborate little church. during the lunch break we walked around the big flea market... and then i got a bagel, which i haven't seen since i got here. it was glorious. after lunch we went to the portuguese synagogue, which somehow survived the nazi occupation. all the guys had to put on yarmukles to go inside. after that we went to the van gogh museum, which i really enjoyed. they have most of his 'big' paintings there. i like him a lot more than rubens or rembrandt as far as dutch guys go (they're all dutch, right?). dinner was indonesian food at a place reserved by mme delsemme. good stuff, but i forget what it was called. just rice and different spicy meats, vegetables, and tofu. spent the night walking around the city with a couple people. saw lots of different things (to say the least).
saturday we went to the maritime museum - another winner. we toured a replica of an 18th century merchant ship and then walked around the museum, which i could have spent a lot more time in. i liked all the paintings of the dutch naval battles. the different old world maps were cool to see, too. then over to see where the first dam of amsterdam was. on that square is the town hall and the nieuwe kerk. that's where i took the picture of the kids with all the pigeons hanging out on them. from there we went to the amsterdam historical museum. either i was just really tired by then or it just wasn't interesting to start with there, because there wasn't much holding my attention. running along to catch trains and trams with madame delsemme was an adventure in itself. 35 of us hopping on these things had to really hassle people. oh well. the rijksmueum was next, which had lots of rembrandt paintings. i liked the different landscape paintings they had there (but they weren't by rembrandt). we walked around the museum park after that and then got some massive hamburgers at this tavern. walked around downtown some more at night.
sunday we got up early and went to the anne frank house. it was incredible. i'm glad we got a chance to see it. there's still the pictures she pasted on the wall there, and they have the original diary and everything there. after that we had lunch and made our way towards delft.
i really liked delft. maybe it's because it was so small and not really touristy (except for part of the main square). we had a local lady give us a tour of the city. i picked up some more little gifts for people there. there's lots of canals there and everyone's just hanging out and riding their bikes and being low-key.
monday gilbert was telling me about his father and grandfather and what they did in the war. he told me how his grandfather had actually walked from the netherlands to antwerp after he got out of prision, and then was blind for 6 months from the phosphorus bombs. his dad got caught for some other thing, and when they divided the belgian people up he went with the flemish people instead of the french-speaking ones and was able to escape. it was a really interesting story.
the rest of this week has been alright. things are picking up for the next couple weeks until break. i had an econ midterm, which was ok. i'm starting to book stuff for spring break - looks like it's going to be rome, florence, pisa, venice, and milan... maybe some other places on the way back, i don't know. we'll have to figure it all out.
Tuesday, 2 March 2004
"How could you confuse Pink Floyd with The Who? One is guitar-driven rock and the other is guitar-driven rock"
i forgot to bring my journal along with me so i could write a decent entry about everything i saw. in the meantime, you can see the photos from the trip
Saturday, 21 February 2004
i've been in the lab for a while and am antsy to get out of here, so this won't be too long.
bruges last week was really beautiful. the books were right - it's pretty much frozen in the middle ages and renaissance, which was really impressive. there are all kinsd of canals, old buildings, little winding cobblestone roads, etc. the one thing that got to me, though, was that they re-made or renovated a lot of buildings in the 18th and 19th centuries. so you'd be looking at something that looked like it was from the middle ages and then find out that someone just built it to look that way. so i felt cheated every now and then... i wanted to see the authentic stuff.
anyway, we visitied a beguinage, and then st. jan's hospital, which was a museum that had a lot of hans memling's work and also other things from the old hospital.
from there we went to the onze lieve vrouw church and saw a sculpture by michelangelo of the madonna and child. it really stood out for its size (only about 2.5 feet tall).
the picture of the belfry that i posted was taken from the main square, which was lined with old-style flemish buildings and the town hall. there was a huge line for horse carriage rides. no one seemed to mind that there was horse poop everyhwere, or that the horses would just stand there and pee in the middle of the square.
you can climb the belfry, but the line was too long so i didn't go. we walked around to other historic sites, like one of the last remaining hanseatic league houses and things like that.
we came to another square and went inside the bruges vrij, which had this incredible oak mantelpiece from 1528. then to the city hall, which was one of the re-done places.
we went to two chapels. the first was st. basil, a small romanesque chapel with a sculpture from the 1100s, and then the holy blood chapel, which is supposed to have a relic of jesus' blood on a piece of cloth. it was brought back from the crusades in the 1300s. i don't know about that.
we walked around more nice scenery, etc. and then went to the groeninge museum and saw more works by van eyck, memling, and other people.
that was about it. the past week has been pretty slow. i've just been doing work to get ahead of things before we go to antwerp and amsterdam (26-29). classes are going fine. some of these vesalius kids are pretty ridiculous. i don't think i could handle this school for more than a semester.
hmmm, what else.. i got a really cheap guitar on wednesday to kill some time and stay in practice. i'm going to try to sell it back before i come home.
on thursday night i went to see this abstract jazz group at the kultuurkaffe at VUB. i really enjoyed it. they did the soundtrack for this movie called Sansa. i'm wondering if the soundtrack is the same as what they do live.
as you can see, i didn't end up going to cologne. it was completely booked up, and i had too much to take of this weekend anyway.
well, that's about it for now. sorry for the delay in updates. if any of you have some time to email me, i'd like to hear what's new and how everything's going...
ok, lunch time.
Monday, 16 February 2004
some of my pictures of Luxembourg City
I have to write a paper now, but I'll try to post about Bruges soon.
This weekend I think we're going to Cologne in Germany.
Wednesday, 11 February 2004
luxembourg 61 revisited
short story about friday night first. rich and i were walking towards the computer labs at the vub and we came to the main road, which is a four-lane divided road. at this point we saw what may have been the stupidest car accident ever. someone turned on to the road in the wrong direction and began to drive for quite some distance. meanwhile, all the other cars were stopped at a light. so there was just one singular car driving towards a whole bunch of stopped cars. but he kept going! and then when he got close enough everyone started flashing their lights and him and beeping and it looks like he just kind of coasted into them going 15 mph. looked like nothing big though. just really really stupid.
anyway, we left for luxembourg early in the morning on saturday. we left from gare centrale at 8:40. it wasn't one of those fancy high-speed trains, so it was a three-hour ride. still, there was lots of great scenery as we rode through the southern part of belgium. our group consisted of me, rich, jason, caroline, eric, joanna, and john. right when we got to luxembourg the skies cleared up, which was great. we walked to the hostel, which was on the other side of the city but still only a 25 minute walk or so. the old walls and defenses were incredible to see. I was going to post my pictures, but I think those panoramas from the city's website do it a lot more justice.
the hostel was pretty nice. it was a Hostels International hostel, sheets and breakfast were included, it was clean, and was only 19.30
we went for a walk along the chemins de corniche, which is a pedestrian path along the old ramparts. the views were great. we made our way down to the Grund (an old part of the city) and saw the church of st. jean baptiste. we went back up via an elevator built into the rock, which was neat.
for the rest of the afternoon we went to the cathedral in the city, which has an old section from 1622. then we just wandered along the different parks and valleys on the edge of the city. there are all kinds of towers and other fortifications still built into the rock that you can wander into. we also saw a little church/chapel that was built into the rock in the one valley. it wasn't in use, though.
at night we wanted to try some real luxembourgish food, so we went to a place called brasserie guillaume and four of us got Judd mat Gardebounen, which was smoked pork collar (??) with beans and potatoes. it was good. at night we just found someplace to get coffee and called it a relatively early night since we were all tired from all of our climbing and walking.
sunday was pretty quiet. we had our breakfast and made sandwiches for lunch. we headed down to the parks on the other side of the city and walked around for a bit, but the weather was pretty bad and we were carrying all of our stuff. So we ended up heading back to Brussels around 11:30ish. it was really impressive how quiet the city was on sunday. for a capital city, it was basically completely shut down.
all in all, it was a great trip. if the transportation was easier, me and rich would like to see all the castles in the north and the different mountain-y areas.
this week has been routine so far, though. the work is actually starting to pick up, but is still manageable. also, it's strange coming back from dinner and having it be almost 9 pm.
but anyway, i need to get back to writing my Stalin book review.
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