Days 49 & 50: MIM & PRICE.

MIM
On Saturday I set off an adventure with my camera in the morning. I wanted to knock something off my bucket list, so the Museum of Musical Instruments it was. I wandered from West of the city center all the way to Parc Royale and the museum (Note, this long walk is important later.)

jenclinton/08052013aFrom MIM’s website: “Besides the well-known Scottish version, many more countries appear to have their own type of bagpipes, Tibetan monks make musical instruments out of the bones of their deceased colleagues, and African slit drums are the local form of Twitter.”

I don’t know what genius decided the concept for MIM but I’m kind of in love. You get a little transponder thing in your language of choice when you walk in, and there are markings on the floor that you stand on in front of most of the instrument displays. Once you’re in the right place, you hold the transponder to your ear, so you actually hear what the instrument sounds like! I mean really. That’s the point of an instrument right? It was so simple it was obvious, but it sort of blew my mind when I realized what the deal was, haha. So clever.

Many of the pieces were from Eastern Europe (lots of Romania), and most were instruments I’d never heard of. I apologize in advance for picture quality but lighting was definitely not conducive to picture taking, not with my little camera dude anyway. Let’s give out some superlatives, shall we?

Creepiest :

Yikes! That would be a skull drum and a femur horn. I thought a femur flute would be a great alliteration but would be decidedly less intimidating in battle I suppose.

Yikes! That would be a skull drum and a femur horn from Tibet.

Most ornate:

I'd be too afraid to even hold this thing, never mind play it.

I’d be too afraid to even hold this thing, never mind play it. She’s so dainty.

Most BA to play (listen to it here):

the SERPENT from RUSSIA.

the SERPENT from RUSSIA, distant cousin of the tuba.

Most difficult to play:

no WAY is that a one person instrument! holy lung capacity. maybe it comes with a reverb pedal or something, haha.

no WAY is that a one person instrument! holy lung capacity. maybe it comes with a reverb pedal or something, haha.

Best Smile:

:D!

:D!

Best Dressed:

from romania, circa 2007. (that threw me.)

from romania, circa 2007. (that threw me.)

Most “what the?” moment:

"it's a little weird that we're blowing into animal intestines, ya? let's cover it in fur so it's less conspicious. much better."

“it’s a little weird that we’re blowing into animal intestines, ya? let’s cover it in fur so it’s less conspicious. much better.”

Personal favorite:

phish guitar?

phish guitar?

I will say this though, I did enjoy the museum but it would  be much better for you if you have a pretty deep-seated appreciation for classical music. I only appreciate it in small doses, usually when working, which is not something pleasant to think about on a free Saturday afternoon. That’s probably why the nature museum was the one for me. 🙂

On the walk back I took a few more pictures of the city. Isn’t she pretty?

PRICE
So Sunday was designated write-your-damn-thesis day. It went, eh. Okay. I took a break go to the insanity that is Garde du Midi on a Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately as I was walking through the crowd my right knee just gave out for no reason at all. I’m like, hello old lady. I was able to put weight on it fine so I kept on keeping on. I actually got some delicious food today, look look! And aside from the provolone I didn’t spent more than… seven euro?

pêche, pastèque, fraises

pêche, pastèque, fraises

carottes, fromage feta, fromage provolone, persil

carottes, fromage feta, fromage provolone, persil

When I got back to my work space I tried to stretch my legs out to the chair on the other side of the table. OWWWW OWOW OW. So I can walk on it but I can’t straighten it. Gah. My several-knee-surgeries boyfriend suggested a strained tendon and PRICE – pressure, rest, ice, compression elevation. It’s not swollen or anything, and I’m sure it’s from walking so much in not-made-for-distance-walking shoes. Just PLEASE no crutches, they don’t have normal ones here. Everyone uses the hand ones and not the underarm ones and excuse the vanity but it would make me look all the more pitiful.

Sad face. I should probably wear my sneakers to work for a while. I’ll be the only one in BRUSSELS wearing running shoes, I think even the women who run wear cute flats at the very least, haha. Ah well. Body says slow down, you better darn well listen.

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Day Seven & Eight: Playing tourist

After settling all my affairs Saturday, I hopped on the metro and let myself wander without a map throughout Brussels. There was a music festival going on this weekend, so if I stumbled into some live music – lovely. If I found a museum I wanted to try – probably better, because it’s raining again. And if I find waffles, you know what’s going to happen there. Just by following the sounds of music and random groups of people* I ended up smack dab in the middle of tourist country, Brussels.

I can’t even tell you the names of all the things I saw – I really do need a walking/biking tour to understand the rich history here. (Fun fact I did learn is that Belgium recently broke Iraq’s previous record for length of time existing without an official government in place. Ha!) At one point I managed to stumble into this gorgeous plaza with intricate, soaring buildings all around me. Statues and gilded pillars studded the facades, and people all around me were walking in slow circles with their camera above their heads. (What did we do before panorama mode?) I asked the nearest British tourist to please not laugh at me and tell me where I was – I had found Grand Place! (Don’t ask me what that means, though. Not yet.) I took pictures in zooms of three to show you some random details.

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Surrounding Grand Place are lots of famous chocolate shops, lacemakers, and countless restaurants. I stopped in one for a drink and chatted with the waiter trying to rope people into the restaurant. His 20-something friend stopped by, another waiter, and when he found out I was American, he bellowed, “OBAMAAA!!!” which of course made me happy. He asked me to come to his restaurant so he can make me a plate of mussels, and I could kindly please take it to “meester president obama” because he would be so honored to have the president eating his food. Don’t know how far past security I could get but hey, the thought counted.

Other major Saturday accomplishments included securing a local phone, my monthly metro pass, and walking around so much I was icing my ankles all night.

Sunday afternoon, I met two of the other interns for the market at Garde du Midi. This is the market I went to, very first thing after arriving in Belgium. I saw more of it this time, from the clothes to the wallpaper to the cutlery demonstrations and, of course, oh lordy the food. The expense for onion and garlic surprised me but I also got a pineapple and some bananas anyway. OH and those naan wraps, thank you anonymous internet tipster that told me find them. In the market there’s one really long booth close to the bridge where you can order custom-made naan wraps.  I got one with chevre, olives, artichokes, figs, sundried tomatoes, and an olive/pickle/celery mix. If it wasn’t so darn filling I would have had two. I also tried their tea – supersweet but the hot drink was good for a drizzly day.

Next I wandered around Avenue Louise, one of the shopping areas, afterwards. The Chanel store is looking very scottish-kilt-meets-grune-meets-80s-makeup-mannequin these days. We dropped into a super great cafe for lattes in the afternoon too, Workshop, and traded travel stories and baby pictures on Facebook. We also found some wonderful live music – I highly recommend you listen to some Gaëtan Streel. For different songs, he sounded like Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol, Jack Johnson, and Marcus Mumford. After our adventures, I trekked back to my new apartment, pineapple in tow, and learned the history of my new residence.

Which means… new house tour coming soon! In the meantime, here are some pictures from my two days of walking through the capital of Europe.

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*Yes, I did that. I look less like a target for thief-ing when I’m in a group, and if I hover just far enough back the group doesn’t notice

PS – If you want to read something much funnier than I will ever write on expat living… please please PLEASE read Oh God, My Wife is German. I was peeing my pants laughing at his wedding tips and the story of getting a haircut by a Turkish man in Germany.