A brisk early morning walk found us the Nation (local Metro) and then to the Grand Railway Station (international) to catch the train to Brussels to visit with Celine's parents. (Joel's girlfriend) The morning turned out to be a serious of vinaigrettes - nothing stunning and but every moment magical. Having a "petit" breakfast in the coffee shop opposite the station gazing out at the awesome structure that is the station and in the foreground, the profile of the elderly man (Think Hitchcock) sitting in shadow and sunshine, twirls of smoke hazily drifting around him as he enjoyed a enormous cigar. We found the train, carriage and seat with a mixture of deductions and helpful Parisians and settled into a very civilised mode of transport. Green fields, interspersed with bright yellow fields (canola?) Villages, with scattered homes looking like my childhood drawings of a house, rectangular box, triangle roof, square windows, a chimney and a garden. Age old trees, and spires of a cathedrals peeking out over the rooftops.
Windfarms and red tractors and green, everything so lush green.
260km / 1.5 hours later we are in another country. Thats hard for an Australian girl to get her head around!!
Françoise and Rene welcomed us with open arms and started an incredible whirlwind tour of Brussels. We began with some culture and taken to a museum area. A massive monument high up in the air had little black figures scrambling over it. Turns out the military are practicing absailing. Absailing. Off historical monuments. How truly bizarre We chose the Auto museum and got to know each other over the stunning and graceful lines of automobiles from every era.
Lunch was a formal occasion at Rene's club. So formal a shirt, tie and jacket was produced from somewhere to spruce John's casual appearance to something more befitting the "typical Belgium" repast we had. Out on the elegant terrace over looking manicured lawns and hedges, been waited upon by attentive waiters - bit daunting and hugely satisfying!
We toured through Alice van Buurens home ( http://museumvanbuuren.be) 1928 tranquil art novea home and gardens before heading back to their home. On the edge of town backing on to grassy pastures a beautiful home- filled with love, art, chooks, dogs, and surrounded by take-your-breath- away gardens. Cheese and champagne, home cooked turkey and vegetables and a serene enjoyable evening finished an amazing day.
Francoise again opened our eyes to the beauty of Belgium the next day, amazing buildings, quaint cobblestone streets, and the awesome Atomium (http://atomium.be/?lang=en#/Headlines.aspx?xunq=1) We walked inside an atom. Who would have ever thought! Marvelling at the views and the 1958 logic of the Belgium's on creating this strange, compelling piece of architecture.
An enormous delicious pot of Mussels for lunch before strolling through cobblestone streets surrounded by magnificent architecture from past eras, cathedrals and palaces and building of every type. We did the obligatory photo shoot of the little garçon, wee-ing madly away - every day all day, ("small but remarkable" Francoise summed him up as - much to my delight) Finally - tired, exhausted and happy we returned to Paris.
Meeting up with Susie and Billy - catching up our respective
journeys over the Best Belgium chocolate and then dinner.