Friday, April 13, 2012

Travel Notes: Brussels

City hall at Grand Place, Brussels
The nine-hour time difference between Brussels and the US West Coast works out well. I’m posting this on Friday the 13th from Brussels after a pleasant breakfast-- while readers in the west are fast asleep. The photo of the city hall at Grand Place was taken early Friday morning, a bit after midnight, which was mid-afternoon Thursday for you on the ‘west’ coast.

Delta flew us from SeaTac to Amsterdam Schiphol in about 9 hours. Laid over for about 4.5 hours before taking the CityHopper to Brussels. Schiphol is hugely bustling. In a 10-minute period I heard pages for people traveling to Iran, Athens, Munich,  Zurich, Milan, Bonn, Rwanda, Nuremberg, Aberdeen, Hamberg, Washington, Dubai...

Layover was time enough to learn that Schiphol opened, according to Wikipedia, in 1916 as a military airbase and is named after the former Fort Schiphol. You get two 30-minute segments of free wi-fi at the KPN Hotspot. (My second 30-minute segment turned everything on my platform into Dutch...)

Belgium from the air and from the ground is flat flat flat. Small wonder armies moved across its borders so easily. Brussels is an outrageous mix of ancient (we’re in Old Town), colonial (Leopold II), and steel-glass modern (one of the capitols of the European Union). It hailed and rained late yesterday afternoon, then cleared for sunset.

This morning is overcast with breaks of light blue sky between light puffy clouds. Take a look at the clouds and skies in Magritte’s paintings. That’s what he saw.

--Mike Sato

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