Friday, October 8, 2010

Brussels wedding and family gathering

Jenny's hitchhiker
Last summer my darling cousin Jenny (and her husband Benoit) came for a visit.  They did a lot of sightseeing and Benoit did some diving.  They really enjoyed meeting "grandson" and a good time was had by all.

She and her husband enjoyed their vacation here on Corfu, but it was to be their last summer on their own... they were anticipating the arrival of a new family member. 

With her brother's (my other cousin Jeremy) wedding taking place, our planned trip netted us both a family wedding, and we got a chance to meet the newest family member: Arsène.

 The civil ceremony in the town hall of Halle was lovely and the room was filled with well wishers from both sides of the new couple's family. 

The only minor glitch turned out to be that it was market day and the town square and streets leading up to it were all closed off for the market stalls.  Still it made for a charming crowd who spontaneously enjoyed the "show"!

My soon to be 90 years old aunt was in prime form and as she is dearly loved by all was in prime place.

My favorite part was after the ceremony, when were were all outside being arranged by the photographers, I noticed here was a small group of Japanese tourists who ended up taking many photos of the wedding party. 

It does give one pause to know you are featured in someone's vacation photo packet!!

The reception was in a lovely old 17 century farm near the city of Mons  (with cobblestone courtyard! excruciating on feet wearing high heels!) and beautiful buildings converted to serve the meal and have dancing and a nice party afterward.

I thought I'd include this photo of "saint middle son" as you can see the cobblestones we were all standing on for most of three hours!  There's a lovely little pond behind him and the building behind the pond was where the dinner and dancing took place.  This little farm had historically been on the road to Waterloo and over run by Napoleon and his troops.

The rest of our visit passed in a state of nostalgia for a beautiful and favorite city (Brussels)  and great food, wine and amazing beer.

Every time my cousin and I get together in Brussels we race around, dragging our spouses and whomever else is along, down all the same back streets and little places we used to visit as children. 

Some pictures of Brussels:  the Grand Place

The Grand Place
Fountains I have loved: 

[Particularly when i was a child!]   The Spitter (le Cracheur)

Manneken Pis (obvious?)

Side street views I have loved:

a juggler store?

Tintin (with Snowy) and Captain Haddock (I grew up with the little guy!)

Galeries Royale St. Hubert 

(first indoor shopping mall I ever knew...)

The amazing theatre of Toone :

which is a bit hard to explain as it's one family keeping alive an almost dead language- Bruxellois, which is  a charming patois spoken at one time by the inhabitants of the city of Brussels. Toone is a theatre of puppets, or marionettes and originally they performed plays only in Bruxellois.  There's a great deal of satire involved as well as clever interplays with words.  There's also almost always a healthy dose of self-mockery that goes as well.

Brussels at times, over the past thousand years,  has more like a small country between two others... the Flemish speaking people and the French speaking people of Belgium.  Bruxellois evolved to include both languages. 

Now for the food!

Moules in white wine sauce,

Frites- hot and crisp and homemade... (incredible seafood casserole in background)

Sole Meuniere perfectly prepared

 Croquettes crevettes (with little grey shrimp from the North Sea...)

so many other lovely things... desserts, hard rolls, cheeses... excellent wines, lovely dark and also blond beers...

and of course, the eight pounds I gained in four days.


  1. I could weep!

    But what a treat that was....both text and photographs!

  2. Lovely photos! The bride looked gorgeous

  3. Oh well worth the 8lb weight gain I think Jes! I've never been to Brussels but did go to Bruges for the day some years ago...and thoroughly enjoyed moules and frites...and of course brought back lots of delicious Belgian chocolate.

    The bride looks lovely, and I really like the pics xx

  4. Dear Fly,

    I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Sometimes at the odd moment I will find myself thinking about dinner in Brussels and I will smile. To date, I don't think I've ever had a bad meal in Belgium.

    Dear Lacey,

    Melissa was a radiant bride. She is such a sweet person that I think it shines through whenever I see her picture.

    Dear Ayak,

    Bruges is such a lovely city. The old part of the city is like an island of calm in the midst of the rest of the town! It sounds like you had a lovely meal there as well.

    Of course nothing beats Belgian chocolate. I went Neuhaus and picked up a box of my mothers favorites for "saint middle son" to take back with him. She is still doling them out to herself, as she claims they are the best in the world and for some reason they taste better when they come directly from Belgium... (who knows???)

    re: the 8 pounds... hmph.

  5. We went to Brussels some years ago, but have always tended to go to Bruges or Ghent. You make me want to go back again and try to see it properly.

  6. Dear Madame,

    I love Brussels- but not to drive or park in. Fortunately, the train from the airport drops you off in the central city a few blocks from the Grand Place, or continues (both ways) to the Gard du Nord - which is also where the eurostar arrives from France and England.

    Eating is not the only thing to do in Brussels tho. There are so many lovely things to see! I'm always thrown by how many people are milling around the city. For sure there are still many places that are as special and unchanged (relatively) in the 50 years that I remember them! For instance the amazing park Cinquantenaire [ ]

    Of course much has been torn down and moved and neighborhoods have changed, but you can still see the influence of Horta's art nouveau [ ] around the city. (you can also visit his house which is stunning if you like art nouveau... i covet the light fixtures.)

    The fine arts museum is wonderful as well - with a brand new small museum totally dedicated to Magritte, the amazing surrealist.

    There's a museum of musical instruments, of the history of cartooning (LOTs of stuff from Herge the creator of Tintin) as well as the traditional and stunning art and history museums. [ ]

    Small museums abound. I haven't been in years, but I remember that in my grandmother's neighborhood of Anderlecht, a short walk from her house was the house of Erasmus (1521), which had been turned into a little museum as well.

    Many neighborhoods have changed (my grandmother's among them), there's a huge Moroccan, and African population in Brussels now, Belgium having "reaped" their immigrant population from their "sown" colonialism.

    Still that means that there are some really excellent ethnic restaurants in Brussels as well!

    For sure plan a trip. If you ever have any questions of places to go or great restaurants- I will happily overshare any information I have!!




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