Picture of the Week

25 January 2018

Week 03: Brussels and Paris

Filed under: — Administrator @ 16:53

My friend Lars left on Monday, and on the same day I flew to Brussels for a 3-day business trip to Brussels and Paris, with very much an emphasis on business. Some of my trips involve free time which I use to visit art galleries or musuems or just walking around the city; but this trip had none of that. The weather in Brussels was awful, and most of the time, including evenings, was taken up with work-related activities. So I decided to turn the trip into a bit of a photography exercise by taking only the little Ricoh GRII with me. It is a small camera but with a the same size APS-C sensor found in many DSLRs, and it gives excellent image quality. What it lacks is interchangeable lenses–there is a 28mm lens and that is it. So zooming is done with one’s feet and one must pay attention to composition. All the images in this week’s blog were made with that little camera.

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I landed in Brussels on Monday afternoon and took the train to Schuman station. At this time of year, it gets dark early, and the weather was absolutely awful. I walked to my hotel to check in, and then I had a meeting at the European Commission starting at 6 p.m. Besides getting soaked walking to these various places, I did manage to make something of the rainy city scenes. Here is the Schuman square:
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The esplanade in front of Berlaymont, visrtually deserted:
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Sidewalk, Schuman:
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Afternoon traffic, Rue de la Loi:
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Bicycle parking, Rue de la Loi:
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My late meeting over, I sought shelter and sustenance at Kitty O’Shea’s:
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Tuesday morning, the weather was slightly less crappy, and anyway I had to be indoors all day. This is the view from the window of our office in Brussels, the building of EU’s External Action Service. I photographed it in the style of Andreas Gursky (I think…):
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The facade of Berlaymont (seat of the EU Commission) is always adorned with a huge banner celebrating something or other. I am usually pretty cynical about those things, but this time the message was one in which I truly believe. The Erasmus programme, helping EU students study in another Member State, is indeed a great success story. I have met several graduates of the programme, all of them are formidable young people:
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After the all-day meeting, I headed back the usual watering hole, stopping to take a snap of the funny faces outside the Commission building:
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At Kitty O’Shea’s, I met up with Piotr from the OECD who also participated in our meeting. He was going back to Paris later in the evening, but there was time for a couple of beers. There always is:
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Newcomers to Belgium are often surprised at the presence of dogs in many places where they are not allowed in other countries. That is just the way it is. Here a four-legged patron of Kitty O’Shea’s:
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On Wednesday morning, I had to take a 7:30 train to Paris, so I found myself quite early at the Gare du Midi. As usual, I stopped to photograph this amusing piece of decoration:
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The Thalys covers the 330 km from Brussels to Paris in 1h 20m, so I was at Gare du Nord in Paris before 9 and had time for a coffee before heading to the OECD. Looking out from the station, the weather in Paris looked much better than in Brussels:
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I stepped outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air before descending into the rush-hour metro. The square in front of Gare du Nord has this funny crooked building:
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Old and new façade of the station. The French are good at combining modern architecture with what is already there:
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Getting from the Gare du Nord to the OECD takes almost an hour on the metro, followed by a 10 minute walk from Muette metro station. Just before reaching the OECD, I saw this curious piece of graffiti, a rarity in this extremely posh neighbourhood in the 16th Arrondissement:
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My Polish economist friend Piotr again, but this time in a non-beer situation:
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I like the OECD building a lot. It is very bright and luminous:
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I spent the day in meetings at the OECD, but then the day ended, and Piotr and I went for a (surprise!) beer, this time at a brew bar called Frog XVI near Trocadéro:
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The Ka…Pow IPA turned out wonderful. I love the improvement in the Paris beer scene I have experienced in the past few years:
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I said goodbye to Piotr and walked back to Trocadéro from where I was going to take the airport bus to Orly for my flight home that evening. While waiting, I took in the sights a bit, beginning with the iconic metro sign:
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And the spectacular views of the Eiffel tower one has from Trocadéro:
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I then made my way to Orly and flew home, arriving after midnight. Thursday was back to the office, and in the evening I had a doctor appointment. Next to my doctor’s office there a bakery/café. At the entrance, I was met by this:
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Thankfully, the weekend arrived. On Saturday, I made a new (to me) recipe, an Israeli sandwich called Sabich–basically, a pita coated inside with a tahine dip, and filled with fried aubergine, egg, cucumbers and tomatoes, generously seasoned with lemon juice, parsley and other good things. It was the kind of food eaten by the early arrivals in the 1940s and 50s, when the country was poor, and the government encouraged people to eat locally grown food like this instead of imported meat etc. Today it remains popular–and delicious:
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And finally I could get on the bicycle and hit the roads in the hills I so enjoy. Even though it is still January, the feeling is spring-like, and this almond tree seems to agree:
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