Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Grandma's Grip in the Grande Place

Charise moved to Belgium when she was 3 months old and moved to Cleveland 3 1/2 years later. 

She wondered if going back to Stokelle, visiting the street when she grew up would bring back any old hidden childhood memories.

The trip didn't work as far as the flood of old memories theory went. B

ut it was the reason that Wyona, Alicia, Charise and I took the Chunnel to Brussels for a two-night, three-day visit.

We were an hour late boarding the Eurostar when the difficulty of an on-time departure was explained in terms of a fire alarm in the chunnel along with the words, you can rebook if you like, since we have no idea how the delay will be.

The present travel culture for Canadians has been plane flights with long delays because of the volcanic ash in the air. Before I knew it, Wyona had our tickets stamped for a quick exit and a guard leading us out of the secure area and into the travel centre for a rebooking. 

If we had been a little slower we would have been on the train, for the problem was fixed and the train boarded just as we left the secure area. We didn't have a guard to lead us back into the boarding area, so we went through rebooking and arrived 5 hours later than anticipated in Brussels, but we still arrived. 

And yes, on the trip through the tunnel we did smell the smoke from a fire.

On our trip we found out that David Pilling and Alicia Bates have something important in common. 

They both like meat.

In fact, life is better for them as carnivores.

But in Brussels there is an exquisite frites spot called Maison Antoinnes where the fries are wrapped in paper cones, and the sauce aux tartar sprinkled liberally on top. 

Even that event couldn't peak Alicia's interest in potatoes. 

Wyona ordered 3 large frits. The servor told her that she couldn't have large, only medium. 

"We are four people," she replied.

"Medium is enough for four," he responded in French.

Of course he was right. 

And more especially right for we had breakfast that morning on the 9th floor of the NH Hotel Grande Place where we stayed.

This breakfast started out with a silver lining, as you can see from the grey sky in the distance. Still we could see most of the north side of the city from the hotel terrace.

The sound was good as well for we were hearing the chimes calling people to church, the sound of jets going through the grey sky, and the chirping of the birds in the air.

And we practised using our utensils in different ways, holding them first American style and then European style.

Notice the fork in the waffle for the snapshot which I did not see when I was taking the picture. 

Which style is that?

I do not want to give people the impression that we are having fun here, when we are not.

For example, Wyona is under strict instructions from Teaque to see that Alicia goes to all of the town squares and museums that he saw when he was young.

So when we got to the Grande Place, Wyona went to the Town Hall and bought the self-guide book that tells what is happening in each of the buildings as far as the guilds were concerned in the sixteenth century. By building number 8 Alicia was loosing interest.

So Charise had to hold the guide book. At the same time, Wyona pointed with one of her arms at the point of interest in which we were to direct our attention. And as you can see from the picture, Wyona held Alicia's arm with her other hand, preventing Alicia's escape from Teaque's assignment for Wyona -- to see everything in the Grande Square that he had probably also been forced to observe.

In the end the stragegy worked for soon we all had our cameras in our hands.

We saw the medallions that told where the bricklayers had their guilds.

We saw the sculpture of Romulus and Remus drinking from a she-wolf.

We saw a plaque commemorating the building where Victor Hugo lived when he had been expelled from his own country.

Behind Wyona's head is the commemorative brass plate -- but now I can't even tell that there is a lady working sewing machine there -- which I thought was appropriate when I was taking the picture. My camera shake must have shook that detail right out of the picture.



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