Picture of the Week

10 July 2019

Week 26: Brussels, and testing the GM5 around the office

Filed under: — Administrator @ 11:09

Most of the images for this week were taken during a trip to Brussels Sunday and Monday. But after I returned to the office later in the week, my newly purchased Panasonic GM5 camera, a tiny gem which will henceforth be my cycling camera, arrived (from an ebay seller in Norway) and I set about testing it on my usual victims, i.e. my co-workers. It also helped that Friday was the last Friday of June, so we had the traditional midday drink at the office. On another equipment note, I travelled to Brussels with my Leica M8, an 11-year old camera with even older lenses which still functions wonderfully as long as there is enough light to keep the ISO at 400 or below–and given that sunset in Brussels is around 10 p.m. in late June, I knew that this would be the case.

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The trip began in a really wonderful manner. I flew to Brussels Sunday morning on a TUI flight (a Belgian airline, part of a huge German travel conglomerate, one of the four airlines that flies the Alicante-Brussels route). About 15 minutes before we landed, the flight attendants announced that the captain of the flight was retiring after 43 years of service and that this was his very last flight. Everyone applauded heartily, and after we landed, I stopped to shake his hand and take a quick portrait. I have been trying to get in touch with the airline to get the photo to him, I am sure he would appreciate having this record of his last flight:
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A familier sight at Brussels airport:
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I took the express bus to the EU quarter and checked into my hotel near Schuman. I then set out to enjoy the good weather and the city for the next several hours, always on the outlook for amusing details. Right outside Berlaymont I noticed this sticker on a light pole, a German party called simply “The Party” which seems to be both for and against the same thing. Obviously a piece of political satire:
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The first item on my itinerary was a visit to Bozar, the main contemporary art museum in Brussels. I took the metro to Gare Centrale. Upon emerging I saw a nice sight–a group of young volunteers were spending their Sunday afternoon picking up trash in the city:
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Bozar always has several exhibitions going on, and I had been there recently, in March. So this time I just wanted to see one exhibition, a series of photographs by Jef Geys, documenting the 1969 Tour de France, the first of five tours won by the great Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx. Part of the motivation for the exhibition was that it is the 50th anniversary of that Tour, and part was that this this year’s Tour was going to start in Brussels on July 6th:
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I then made my way towards Grand’ Place, passing the square with the statue of Charles Buls, a 19th century mayor of Brussels and always a popular spot for tourist snapshots:
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The weather was warm and sunny, so the ice cream sellers were doing good business:
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Grand’ Place, as usual on a nice day, was full of people:
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It is entirely normal for people of all ages to just sit on the cobblestones of Grand’ Place:
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My next stop was Poechenellekelder, one of my usual bars, just across a narrow street from the Mannekin Pis. I managed to get a table outside and settled down for a couple of beers and leisurely people-watching:
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A redhead. The Mannekin Pis, dressed for some occasion, is just visible on the right:
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Toddler adjustment:
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I walked down to Boulevard Anspach, a major thoroughfare that has recently been closed to cars and is now dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians. It was a hot day, and these two dogs had evidently just had a dip in a nearby fountain:
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The old stock exchange, La Bourse, decorated for the Tour de France:
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Maison des Chats, Boulevard Adolphe Max. It was a prize-winning building in the 1870s, when this part of Brussels was being urbanised:
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I walked deeper into the centre, to Place Ste-Catherine, another favourite spot of mine, where I intended to finish the evening. There was a rock band playing on the square, kind of high-end buskers:
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People were enjoying the good weather, both on the terraces and simply at the edge of the pond:
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Drink and lap dog:
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The Monk bar, my watering hole on Place Ste-Catherine:
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The Monk bar, looking out (all the outside tables were occupied so I had to have my beer inside):
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Afterwards, I had dinner at one of the many restaurants on Place Ste-Catherine and took the metro back to my hotel. By then it was around 10 pm, I had been out and about for 8 hours or so, and I was ready to relax in my room. There is a metro station on Place Ste-Catherine with a direct line to Schuman, which is one of the reasons I had planned my outing to end there. And it provided me with one last image of the evening while I was waiting for the train:
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On Monday morning, I had a meeting at 10:30, so there was plenty of time to go for a walk in the sunshine. I passed the funny heads near Berlaymont. This one is supposed to be Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the European Union:
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I am not sure of the identity of this woman:
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The entrance to the Polish embassy and representation to the EU. The poster celebrates the 30th anniversary of the first democratic election in June 1989, a major milestone in the collapse of Communism that culminated with the fall of the Berlin wall several months later:
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The meeting room inside Berlaymont where I spent the next several hours. The subject was how to reduce flow of online advertising revenue to IP-infringing web sites:
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Lunches at meetings hosted by the Commission are decidedly non-posh, usually consisting of delivered sandwiches and the like. But it gave me time to wander around the building a bit. I stopped at the buste of the great Polish physicist, Marie Curie-Skłodowska, the only person to win a Nobel prize in two different disciplines (physics and chemistry):
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The meeting over, I made my way to the train to the airport, stopping for a last snap of this trip on my way down to the station:
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Back in the office later in the week, my new cycling camera, the tiny Panasonic GM5, arrived. I immediately started testing it in the only way I know, i.e. by taking pictures of my colleagues. I started with Eri:
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Carolina was my second test subject:
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And arriving home that afternoon, one of my cactus babies:
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In the evening, I went to the beach to test the camera after dark:
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Based on these test images, I was satisfied that the camera was working properly, and continued to use it during my bike rides.

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On Thursday evening, I did my after-work bike ride to Aigües, and photographed this piece of rural wall art on the way:
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Friday was the last Friday of June, so we had the usual mid-day drink in our department:
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One of the delicacies shared came from Georgia (the ex-Soviet republic, not the US state)–some kind of nut in a casing of grape paste. It was delicious:
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My contribution was this Belgian cheese that I had brought from Brussels:
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Tamara and Tina in lively conversation:
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Our German copyright lawyer, Franciska:
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Friday evening, the work week is over, and I notice this family of four crossing the street near my house:
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On Saturday, I cycled to Busot, and stopped to take this picture of the village just before descending there. The light made it very pretty this particular morning:
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I even managed to get a decent portrait of one of the goats:
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The final picture of the week, another recurring theme–two cute dogs “parked” at the entrance to our local supermarket:
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A gallery of summery Brussels photos can be seen here.

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