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Posts Tagged ‘belgium’

As I conclude another brief trip to Brussels, I thought I’d include a number of the photos that I managed to snap while walking in the streets of the central part of the city. As is typical of this time of the year, the weather was often gray with intermittent light rain, but I did manage to see some interesting sights.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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While briefly in Brussels on business, I was able to take advantage of a beer festival held at the Grand-Place, the historical central square of the city. Booths were set up in the center of the square and there was an extensive variety of beers to taste. I initially visited the square in the post dawn hours, when workers were cleaning up the area after Saturday night’s festivities and then returned with friends on Sunday afternoon to sample some of the beers.

View of the Grand-Place and some of the booths

View of the Grand-Place and some of the booths

Beer weekend

Beer weekend

“Proud of our beers”

Troll beer

Troll beer

“The Beer of Bravery” Previously  “Beer of Victory,” but sales in France were low.

it's a family affair...

It’s a family affair…

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever I am walking through beautiful cities in Europe, I spend a lot of time with my eyes pointed upward, marveling at the amazing architecture. I’ve learned the hard way, though, that it is also important to look downward in order to avoid potentially unpleasant situations.

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Dogs seem to be welcomed in many places in Europe and it is not rare for me to see them on public transportation and even in restaurants. Unfortunately, the dogs have to periodically answer the call of nature and not all owners seem to fulfill their civic responsibility to clean up after their dogs.

I ran across this sign in one section of pavement here in Brussels near the Bourse (Stock Exchange). I am sometimes confused by signs without words and often hesitate when confronted by symbols on public bathroom doors representing genders. In this case, I think it means that dogs should do their business elsewhere, though I suppose it could also be a warning that there are guard dogs present or that dogs should not even be in that area.

One other reason to look down from time to time is that there are sometimes beautiful things to be seen, like this artistic grate in one of the streets near the Grand-Place, the main square of Brussels. I don’t know the background of this little piece of art, but I am always happy to rediscover it each time that I return to Brussels.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The skies finally cleared a little and yesterday evening I had a chance to take a walk in the Grand-Place, Brussel’s central square, one of my favorite locations in this city. The cobblestone pavement was still wet, helping to create nice reflections in some of the shots and the crowds were somewhat sparse, so I was able to get relatively unobstructed shots of some of the buildings that surround the square..

As is usually the case when I am traveling for work, I used my old Canon A620 point-and-shoot camera and used a variety of railings, posts, and other objects to steady myself for these nighttime photos.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am back in the beautiful city Brussels, Belgium for a short work trip and so far my opportunities to take photos have been limited. I am struck by the limited number of daylight hours and it’s been cloudy, windy, and occasionally rainy.

I hope to get some new images, but in the mean time decided to post one from my trip here almost exactly a year ago. It is a night shot of the main tower of the Town Hall, the tallest building in the famous Grand-Place, the central square of Brussels. If you are interested in the history of the Grand-Place, check out this Wikipedia article.

The weather may not improve much—this is what I consider to be typical European winter weather, but I’ll be out and about a bit later today trying to capture some of the sights of Brussels.

Brussels Town Hall

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Although I am here in Brussels for work, I did have some time to play tourist and visit some of the beautiful sights of the city, including the wonderful historical buildings on the Grand-Place, the ancient center of Brussels. Even with my old point-and-shoot camera, the details of the buildings really sparkle.

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What is street art? I tend to think of street art as a category that encompasses a broad range of artistic expressions in a public area. As I walked through the streets of Brussels during this trip, I saw art everywhere—underfoot, in the form of a brass grate in the street; in the air, in the form of a Tintin mural on the side of a building; and at eye level, in the form of a grafitti-covered security cover for a shop and in a stenciled image on the side of a potato delivery truck.

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One of Brussels’s notable tourist landmarks, the Manneken Pis, was wearing a different set of clothes today. The costume is that of the Red Knights of Belgium 1, the local branch of an international firefighters motorcycle club. According to a city website, “The costume was offered to honor the many firefighters, but also the American Red Knights, who vanished during the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on 11 September 2001.”

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You can find fine Belgian chocolate everywhere in Brussels, but if you want other kinds of candy, this is the place to go to find almost every kind of sweet treat that you can imagine. Of course, I smile every time that I pass by the store and read its name—I can’t quite imagine a candy store with the name of SUCX succeeding in the United States.

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Whenever I am in Brussels, I always try to be sure that I see the Manneken Pis, the little boy who is one of the symbols of the city. Normally, he is naked and is peeing into a fountain, but on special occasions he is clothed in one of his many costumes. Yesterday, he was wearing an athletic suit, with what appeared to be a Belgian flag, and running shoes. The statue of the boy is not very big and I am also posting a shot of the alcove in which he is located to give you an idea of his size.

I will try to check him again before I leave and see if he has changed into a different set of clothes. If so, I’ll be sure to post another photo.

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During this past week in Brussels, I experienced extremes of weather, ranging from dark, threatening thunder clouds to gorgeous light late one day that bathed the palace in shimmering gold.

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Another short business trip to Brussels is coming to an end. Here are some images of this beautiful city taken during the last few days with my old point-and-shoot Canon A620.

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The city was mostly deserted when I took a walk through the center of Brussels at 5:00 this morning, my last day in Brussels for this trip.  It was a little eerie to visit some of the major tourist sites in the moonlight and to be mostly alone.

Mountains of bulging trash bags and folded cardboard were piled up outside the businesses as I made my way through the cobblestone streets of the pedestrian area. The buildings of the Grand Place were as beautiful as ever, though I didn’t really care for the series of off-and-on lights that illuminated them (and they made it tough to get a proper exposure). I finished up my early morning stroll with a visit to the Mannekin Pis, the little boy who is one of the symbols of Brussels. Occasionally I have seen him in one of his many costumes, but this morning, he was au naturel.

Despite seeing again some of the famous landmarks, my favorite subject this morning was the moon as it lit up the clouds in the sky. I tried to capture some of the feeling in the first photo, where the moon shows itself in between parts of the roofs in a downtown house.

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Words exist in a cultural context and here in Brussels, perhaps nobody smiles when they pass this sign for the “Bimbo Fashion Store.” As an American male, though, my imagination goes into overdrive as I imagine the type of clothing that would be deemed suitable fashion for a bimbo. Tight jeans and a tube top? Plunging necklines?

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I really like the different types and colors of light in this shot of a portion of Brussel’s nightime skyline, taken from an overlook near the city’s Central Train Station.

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What kind of music can they possibly play in a place that advertises itself as an Irish pub disco bar?

I did a double-take when I saw this sign as I was walking around in the center of Brussels and suffered a moment of cognitive dissonance—there is little room for overlap in my preconceived notions of the clientele of an Irish pub and that of a disco bar and the main activities seem different too.

I wonder if the pub has a big mirrored ball hanging from the ceiling.

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It rained most of the day in Brussels, but finally the skies cleared a little in the evening and the moon was visible from time to time, peeking through the clouds. I enjoy walking through this old city at night and observing the interplay of the light and shadows.

It’s a fun challenge to try and capture the effects of light at night with an older point-and-shoot digital camera and I am always looking for solid objects against which to lean to steady myself.

This was my most “artistic” shot of the evening, an attempt to balance the effect of the weak light of the moon with the artificial lights that illuminated this statue.

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I am drawn to the colors and shapes and patterns in this image of the roof of the Brussels City Hall, one of the iconic buildings of the central square of this beautiful city.

I am back in Brussels for a brief business trip and have not yet had a chance to shoot any new photos. I took this shot last year in mid-January, when the city was covered with a light coating of snow. This year, it looks like it’s a bit warmed and I was shocked to see some sunshine yesterday, the day of our arrival. In my experience, the skies are usually gray and cloud-covered and it is unusual to see the sun at this time of the year.

I hope to have some new photos of Brussels soon, work permitting, which you should be seeing for the next few days.

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It’s been gray and rainy almost all this week in Brussels, so many of these shots feature raindrops. When I am away on a trip for business, I generally carry only my point-and-shoot camera, an old Canon A620.

This trip I decided to experiment with the macro mode and see what kind of shots I could get. I was pleasantly surprised with the results and even managed to get some insect shots, despite the fact that I had to get really close to them, compared with the macro lens that I normally use. I never had to worry about harsh sunlight—I never saw any the entire trip—and mostly had to shoot a a high ISO and an almost wide-open aperture.

I did get some shots of the buildings in Brussels, which looked almost monochromatic in the gray light, but will post some of those images when I return home from the trip.

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It was almost 60 degrees (15 degrees C) when I left home, but it was well below freezing when I arrived in Brussels this morning. Although I usually try to stay awake when I first arrive, it was so dark and gray that I decided to take a nap first. Eventually the sun came out and I went for a little walk in the city center, though the cold and wind drained the power quickly from the batteries of my point-and-shoot camera and made it a little uncomfortable.

Last fall when I was here, I posted some photos of the main square of the city, the Grand-Place. The light was so beautiful today that I decided to post another shot of one of the buildings on that square, the city hall building. The perspective lines are distorted, but I think you can see how beautiful the building is. I am also including a photo of the bell tower of one of the churches here. It is considerably less ornate than the buildings on the Grand-Place, but I find it equally captivating.

City Hall in Brussels

City Hall in Brussels

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I know that periodically the statue of mannekin pis in Brussels is dressed in a variety of different outfits throughout the year. However, yesterday he seemed to be wearing an unauthorized additional item—a mustache. 

Mannekin Pis with Mustache
When I took the photos, I didn’t even notice the mustache, but it was very obvious when I reviewed my shots. The is some writing on the mustache that suggests it is a prank done by a design studio. It is a little hard to figure how they pulled it off, though, given that there is a very obvious video camera pointed right at the statue. Over the years the statue has been stolen a number of times, according to Wikipedia, and the one that is on display is a replica. The original is in the Maison du Roi on the Grand-Place.

Close-up of Mannekin Pis with Mustache

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