Monthly Archives: September 2012

Photo: Haarlem, the Netherlands

Not to be confused with its American counterpart with only one “a” and where you are much more likely to get mugged, the Dutch Haarlem is about 15 minutes by train and an hour by bicycle from Amsterdam.  I know this because I happened to do both in one direction each this past weekend- not a bad day out!

Udvar-Hazy National Air and Space Museum

When I was in the USA last month I spent a week in the Washington DC/ Virginia area, and when I do so I can’t resist a visit to the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall to visit “old friends”- the Apollo 11 capsule, The Spirit of St. Louis, the moon rock you can touch… you get the idea.  The National Air and Space Museum is the most visited museum after the Louvre in Paris, and the fact that surprisingly little of the primary exhibits has changed since it opened in the 1970s is both endearing and depressing when you realize there’s been no reason to update the Apollo-era exhibits because we last went to the moon in the 1970s.  But that’s a space geek rant for later… Continue reading

A Weekend in Bizarro Netherlands, aka Belgium

It turns out that a weekend in Belgium for someone who has lived nearly a year in the Netherlands is a rather disturbing experience because nearly everything is the same but not quite right.  The architectural style is similar but with more stonework and modern buildings thrown in, a lot of history focuses on the Golden Age but more with regards to Antwerp than Amsterdam, and while they also eat their frites with mayonnaise here they unquestionably taste better.  Add in the creeping influence of the French the further south you go, and… yep, Bizarro Netherlands.

Anyway, recently I went to Brussels, and I was further surprised to discover that Brussels is actually quite nice.  I was not expecting this at all- it’s usually described as a boring place, and looked like a giant sprawl from the train whenever I’ve traveled through there, but it turns out if you know where to look amidst the office buildings there are still true gems of lovely old architecture-

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