wandering in Antwerp

in Antwerp train station

A long long time ago (read: the beginning of March) there was a trip to Antwerp. One of my sisters came for a visit in Brussels and on the weekend I took her for a day trip. Mairi and I were joined by Kristina (a lovely au pair with irresistible ginger curls) and about an hour later by Matthijs who came from Netherlands, so in Antwerp train station the group was together. Did I mention in my previous Antwerp-post that the train station there is absolutely gorgeous and crazy?

Antwerp train stationSo, that is the beautiful part. And the crazy? It’s multi-layered. There’s four floors where you can board trains. So when you look up, you see higher floors with trains… and it looks batshit crazy. But why should you have trains only underground or on ground level when you could go higher as well… So when you look at the next photo, know that all of those floors contain trains.

Antwerp train stationWe headed to the centre to take some photos and walk around. I annoyed everyone with talking about pies. Last time in Antwerp we had gone to a bakery with Matthijs and they had amazing tiny cherry pies. I had been dreaming of eating another one of those ever since. Of course I got disappointed when we reached the bakery – they had no crumble pies anymore. Lattice pies look nice, but there’s a distinct lack of crumbles. I like crumbles on my pies. Have I mentioned I love crumble pies? Anyway, after driving everyone insane, I didn’t even get to eat what I wanted. The lattice pies tasted nice as well, but they weren’t what I had been dreaming about.

Antwerp / AntwerpenWe had no certain plan, so we just wandered around, chatted and took photos. When Mairi wanted to take some money out, we discovered that the ATMs there hate Estonian bank cards. Or at least the one that Mairi had. Despite there being enough money, the annoying machine kept repeating there is no money on the account. In the end Matthijs came to rescue – there were no issues with Dutch cards.

Antwerpen

Antwerpen Antwerpen

Of course no trip is complete without spotting some strange graffiti. That day’s discovery? Pedobear twins. With bonus pink toilet paper.

pedobear twinsMairi was supposed to take some videos over the next week and she had brought something special for that: a lens from a copy machine. It gave a very cool effect when looking through and I was able to fit all three trip companions in one photo, standing right in front of them. Unfortunately the lens never made it to the videos. Mairi’s fingers slipped and the lens crashed to pieces on the ground. She was so sad about it, but we had no replacement to take from anywhere.

lens

Antwerpen

To get some lovely views over the town, we decided to visit MAS (Museum aan de Stroom). It’s a huge building with a glass spiral around it, so you can walk up the stairs and see beautiful panoramas. Entering the museum cost some money, but the spiral had free entrance. So we decided to do just that and walk up to the roof.

Antwerpen MASAs you might see from the photo, the glass was not quite ordinary. It was in waves all around the building, so inside the spiral you could walk into the wavy corners and feel almost like you’re in a separate room. Of course I took the chance to take some photos of Mairi and Kristina while they were occupying the corner.

in MASSome views from the roof:

from the roof of MAS  from the roof of MASfrom the roof of MASMatthijs had a wide angle lens with him and we wanted to take a funny looking close-up with the girls. Didn’t work out quite as how I had imagined, but here it is:

on the roof of MASThis has been a very photo-heavy post, because the trip itself was more than a month ago and I can’t remember everything anymore. But I hope the pictures speak for themselves. I’ll try not to leave a month-long gap between posts again.

quadrilingual London

This blog post will continue the story of my London trip, but it will take a detour from my ordinary blogging in English. I’m taking part in European Multilingual Blogging Day, so the rest of my blog post will be mainly in Estonian, Dutch and French. If you need translations/explanations, drop a comment!

Et voici mon second article de blog sur mon voyage à Londres. Le deuxième jour, j’ai décidé de visiter quelques musées. Le “Science Museum” (Musée des sciences) n’était pas très amusant. Je l’avais aimé quatre ans auparavant, mais maintenant il y avait bien plus de parties payantes. D’habitude de nombreux grands musées sont gratuits à Londres, donc j’étais déçu. J’ai découvert ce jour que j’avais laissé la moitié de mon argent à Bruxelles, alors que je voulais payer le moins possible pendant ce voyage.

Na de teleurstelling in het Science Museum, ging ik naar een van mijn favorieten musea in Londen: het Victoria and Albert Museum. Dat museum was ook vernieuwd, maar deze wijzigingen waren goed. Een tijdelijke tentoonstelling vertoonde stukjes uit diverse theatervoorstellingen en concerten. Een van de stukken was een originele schets van de beroemde Phantom of the Opera kostuum.

Uuema disaini osakond oli eelmisel külastusel üks mu lemmikutest olnud. Leidsin ka seekord sealt mitmeid asju, mida tahaks isegi oma koju. Muude asjade seas jäi silma üks erkkollane tool, mida sai klapi sulgemisega muuta lapikuks munaks. Ei tea, kui mugav seal istuda oleks, aga vähemalt väljanägemine oli efektne. Lisaks jäi eredalt meelde arhitektuuriosakond, kus olid väljas paljud originaalmaketid erinevate suurte ehitiste jaoks. Gatwicki lennujaama makett oli ka seal olemas, päris kummaline oli sellele ülevalt alla vaadata.

Puisque le coucher de soleil était plutôt tôt (vers 17 heures) et que je voulais prendre des photos, je n’ai pas pu rester en ville longtemps cette journée. Je me suis promené dans le centre ville, visité Trafalgar Square, acheté quelques affiches de Londres dans une boutique touristique pour décorer ma chambre à Bruxelles et suis allé à la gare pour aller chez mon ami juste en dehors de Londres.

De derde dag ik liep rond in de stad en heb ik nog wat gewinkeld. Ik bracht de halve dag door in Soho, zat voor mijn lunch (warme pizza uit een Italiaanse winkel) op een bankje in Soho Square en later weg naar Oxford Street om daar enkele winkels te kijken. Het kerstinkopen was in volle gang en het aantal van de mensen op de straten en in de winkels was gek. Het is jammer dat ik niet een foto van de drukte heb.

Seekord õnnestus mul päikseloojanguks jõe äärde jõuda, nii et sain eksperimenteerida teravatipuliste siluettide ja värviliste pilvedega. Kahjuks polnud pilvi piisavalt, et tervet taevast värvilaikudega katta, nii et parlamendihoonete suunas olid näha vaid mõned triibud ja natuke roosakat taevast. Kuna väljas oli juba üsna külm, tahtsin sillal röstitud maapähkleid müüvalt mehelt topsi osta, kuid üks väike topsitäis maksis viie naela ringis, nii et jätsin selle vahele ja piirdusin pildistamisega.

Le quatrième jour était nuageux, mais comme il ne pleuvait pas, j’ai décidé de marcher un peu plus. J’étais en voyage à Londres pendant mes vacances et j’étais tout simplement heureuse. Quelques étrangers m’ont souri et je me sentais heureuse d’être jeune et libre d’aller n’importe où. Parfois, c’est tout ce qu’il faut pour être heureuse.

I returned to Trafalgar Square to take some daytime photos. The amount of people heading to / coming from the museum was insane. It had surprised me during the first days to see so many families around with kids, but I later found out that the kids had their autumn holidays. No wonder all museums were full! I was inspecting a sign when a young woman approached me to ask me to take a photo of her. Carrying a DSLR around = the amount of people asking you to take their photo increases by 200%. I guess they just assume they’ll get a good photo that way. She took one of me as well, so I got my touristy shot at Trafalgar Square. Also, I took a photo of the sign. Most people would just write “feeding the pigeons is forbidden” and the meaning would be clear. The British? No way, you have to add an explanation in a very British way. “They cause nuisance” indeed.

I will end this post with two bonus photos from my evening walk before I had to head to the night bus that took me back to Brussels. I might make a separate post about my terrible bus driver at some point. Who wouldn’t want bad jokes with a Borat-accent at 3am on a night bus when you’re desperately trying to sleep? Yeah, I loved it. Not.

autumn leaves and the military museum

Autumn has arrived. It has always been one of my favourite seasons. Everything is colourful, I get to wear an array of pretty tights and sweaters and scarves and hats… though to be honest, I wear most of these during summertime as well. Hooray for chilly Estonian summers! Anyway, autumn has conquered Brussels. I was rather miserable for a week when it rained nearly constantly, so I found myself hoping every day when I had to pick the older kid up from kindergarten that those dark clouds would have mercy on me and stop raining for that hour.

Most of the time the clouds were merciful and allowed me to do the kindergarten trip safely. There was one time though where I ended up thoroughly soaked. The kids didn’t have much of a problem, Mickey was sitting in the pram and Minnie was on the pram stand, so I had to push both of them uphill for the entire way. I was soaked with rain and sweat by the time we reached home and my cheeks had morphed into tomatoes. Hey, at least I got a free workout!

Last week was my busiest one here so far. I had Monday off (so I had an extended weekend that I spent in The Netherlands with Matthijs, hooray for some couple time!), but I was working all other days. On the weekend, FrenchDad and EstMum left for a little weekend trip and I was alone with the kids. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared it would be, the kids behaved surprisingly well. I did not appreciate the 7am wake-up-call from them on Sunday morning, but I could deal with it. In any way, it was more pleasant than was was to come that day: breakfast didn’t seem to agree with Mickey and he ended up vomiting. On everything. Twice. Even after my jacket got washed, it still smells like puke. Maybe after the next wash it will be okay again. My laptop seems to be non-smelly again though, that’s good.

I made the most of the free time I had on some random mornings/evenings last week, getting out of the house as much as possible. One morning I decided to visit The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History. The Dutch and French names aren’t much shorter: Koninklijk Museum van het Leger en de Krijgsgeschiedenis / Musée royal de l’Armée et d’Histoire militaire. Anyway, the museum was in the park you can see on the two photos above and the entrance was free. The latter was the main reason why I decided to visit that particular museum as I was running out of money.

The first areas of the museum were very interesting to me. Old uniforms, swords, funky-looking helmets… what’s there not to like? I mostly walked around just looking at things, since the exhibition notes were mainly in French/Dutch and the English texts were short, if they were even there. I was in no mood for brain-twisters, so I decided to be happy with just looking and no reading.

The museum looked too cluttered to me. It seemed to devalue every piece on show, because there were too many things to look at and you couldn’t really devote your attention to one outstanding piece. It was a huge collection of everything and anything army-related, but instead of feeling like a comprehensive showcase, it just resembled a messy warehouse of random items.

Some things were showcased a bit better than others, like this tricycle that belonged to King Leopold II. One of the most fascinating parts of the museum for me happened to be a bit further away though. I loved the display of old helmets. Most of them look a bit ridiculous now, but I guess they were stylish in their own time.

I enjoyed the areas of the museum that were dedicated to older times. I can’t stand guns and rockets and bombs etc, they seem cowardly and brutal to me. A good old swordfight feels more courageous and noble, it’s an honest face-to-face fight. Unless you stab someone from behind, of course. Taking what I just wrote into account, you can probably see why I didn’t enjoy the areas with newer war machines as much. Wars with swords and bows were in the distant past, but guns and tanks are too fresh and raw even for me, though I haven’t personally experienced war.

This gas mask reminded me of Sharon, my friend from Israel. She once told me that her earliest memory was being in a bomb shelter with her family, everyone wearing gas masks. This is no distant past, this is the first memory of a young woman from Israel. So this display was too close and scary for me.

There were also some actual big tanks on display, but I chose to take a photo of this small colourful machine. Even though I tried to get a photo of a big tank (it’s just outside this picture), I couldn’t bring myself to do it, besides it happened to be too big to properly fit in the frame. Having no personal experience with tanks, that display still managed to make me feel so anxious that I pretty much fled that room in hopes of finding a display that seems a bit more safe.

While wandering around between airplanes, I kept wondering how could some people stand in front of a tank to protect their country when I couldn’t even bear standing next to an unmanned and out of use war machine. Even my own father took part in a human chain protecting Tallinn’s TV tower when Soviet powers threatened it with tanks. I already had huge respect for my dad, but after seeing an actual tank with my own eyes, I respect his bravery even more.

I didn’t stay in the museum for long after reaching the areas dedicated to modern wars. It was all making me a bit too anxious, giving me vivid mental images of what war was and is like. So after just a short hour in the museum I fled, deciding to explore the town a bit more instead. As always, I returned from my expedition with a new photo of a graffiti in Brussels:

The MIM

I want to try to visit at least one museum every week until I have gone through all museums I want to see. This week I went to The MIM (The Musical Instruments Museum), which gives a nice view from the rooftop in addition to showing a lot of old and newer musical instruments. To get to the museum, I first had to go through Warandepark / Parc de Bruxelles. It looked very different without the biofood stalls and massive crowds. I got a chance to take a proper look at the odd sculptures in the park. I’m not sure whether they were there for a week or these are a part of a permanent art collection in the park.

The Brussels sprout in the front is decorated with newspapers, the silver one looks like a hot air balloon… there were also colourful waffles and fries etc. (If you end up in Brussels, it’s better not to say French fries. Belgians are very proud of being the real inventors of fries and referring to the French on that topic might not end well. Nasty little fries-stealing Frenchies! Just frieten or frites is a safer option.) Anyway, after I had walked through the park, I got a nice view of the royal palace. The king doesn’t actually live there though and during summer months visitors are allowed to take a peek in the palace.

At Koningsplein / Place Royale I got a lovely dramatic view with old buildings and cloudy sky. That square is basically museum centre, nearly all houses around and near it contain a museum of some sorts.

The Musical Instruments Museum was right across the square, so I found the entrance, gave my coat and umbrella away (umbrella is basic equipment when visiting / living in Brussels), got a music machine for the visit and was ready to explore the museum. Of course touching any instrument was forbidden, so the problem of curiosity (“Oo, what sound does this instrument make?”) was solved by the mysterious machine. As soon as you got close to something, it showed the instrument on the screen and played a short clip of someone playing it.

Normally it would play music through headphones, but the ones I got with mine were a bit broken, so the machine either used its own speakers or only played music to my right ear. But that was a minor issue, so I didn’t go back to change my machine for a new one. I’m no musical expert, so I’ll just show a few photos of some interesting instruments I saw. If someone is more knowledgeable, feel free to share what you know in the comments section!

There were also some rather strange instruments like a barrel organ with scary-looking dolls. I had forgotten I had taken that photo and might have scared the kids with it a little bit when showing them my photos from the museum. I hope they don’t remember that photo anymore.

The rooftop offered a very nice view and you could also sit at a table there to enjoy food in the museum restaurant. I skipped that since I had spent a lot of money already and eating at home was a lot cheaper, but I did enjoy taking photos from there.

When I was on my way home after seeing everything in the museum, I noticed a random pencil graffiti. Again. I think I’ll start counting the pencils I see in Brussels and taking photos of all of them, they intrigue me for some reason.

Also, the poster on this photo reminded me that I haven’t eaten Brussels sprouts in ages. I should look up a good recipe and make dinner with them next week. Perhaps a nice soup. Or oven potatoes and steamed Brussels sprouts with sauce. I’ll have to think about it. And now I made myself hungry, so I’ll go and raid the kitchen. Au revoir!