A few weeks ago, Michelle and Grant came down from Cambridge to spend a weekend in Brussels. Hayden was very excited to see his marraine again, and we had high hopes of trekking off to Hallebos to see the bluebells. However, the weather was not looking promising so we decided to stay closer to home. Grant acted as our photographer for the weekend and supplied all these photographs.
I kicked off our weekend with some Thermomix buttermilk blueberry pancakes topped with Michelle and Grant’s homemade blackberry jam. We caught the metro to the European Parliament district in Maelbeek valley, and while the sun was out we took a quick stroll through Parc Léopold. The Park contains such treasures as a rare Oriental plane tree, the remains of the fifteenth century Eggevoort castle, as well as the Royal Museum of Natural Science.
Forsaking the Iguanodons this time around, we head over to the Parliamentarium, the new €21 million high-tech EU visitors’ center that opened October 2011. The touch-screen audio devices are available in 23 different languages, and a triggered by placing them within close proximity to your display of interest. For a subject matter that could be quite dry, the curators have managed to bring the history of Europe alive with interactive displays that include a long corridor traversing the history of Europe, a 360 degree film on the parliament, an huge map to explore with trolleys that play short clips about various regions, and an expansive lounge room with interviews of European citizens.
After a lunch of frites and a long afternoon nap, we headed out for Lapin à la gueuz (Rabbit in cherry beer gravy) at Le Forestier, followed by a marionette performance of The Passion at Théâtre de Toone. I had assumed that since I was familliar with the plot, I would be able to follow the story, even though I don’t speak Bruxellois (a dialect mixture of Flemish and French). I was mistaken. The story was told from the perspective of Judas, who was portrayed as a drunk man wandering through the Sablon and the Grand Place, with a cameo by St Michael, the patron saint of Brussels. Hayden loved it, refusing to sleep and staring with wonder at the puppets on the screen. He probably understood more of the Dutch than we did.
We took him back home after intermission and left Grant and Michelle to enjoy the Grand Place.
On Sunday we went to the Midi Markets for a brunch of Moroccan pancakes filled with honey, cheese, and marinated vegetables. Michelle hung out with Hayden and told him a story about a certain caterpillar with a bit of an appetite.
We finished up the weekend with a trip to the Sky Cafe at the Royal Museum of the Army and of Military History. Hayden sat in his first pilot’s seat but looked a little overwhelmed at the responsibility. After a few rounds of bowling, dinner was Ethiopian, which Hayden loved because it meant that everyone was eating with his hands, just like him.