and now for the reason we chose to visit brussels: the rené magritte museum.
after another yum breakfast, we checked out and lugged our bags down the cobblestone, on the metro, and locked them in central station. then we headed off toward the parc de brussels which borders the royal palace on the south end. again, a weirdly boring stone building (but, to be fair, buckingham palace isnt that exciting either).
then we arrived at the museum ticket line just as the museum was opening. JUST recently (june 2, 2009), brussels opened this end-all-be-all, world reference center museum to celebrate perhaps the countrys greatest known artist (rené magritte). the museum is closed mondays (as are most things in brussels) so today was our time to see it, before the train to germany.
being in the first group of the morning was great, few people! the museum flow was logical and informative and awesome. the ambiance was like a deep purple cave that totally drew your eye to the life and works of the man (as it should). while many of his MOST famous works are scattered in the famous museums of the world, this was aiming to be comprehensive. the collection was great and took you through his different phases and illuminated reasons for style changes and life influences. interesting. it caused me to purchase the official museum book for more reading about the man, his life, and his work (even though i had almost no room to pack it). highly recommend this museum.
(silk-screen hanging in the museum lobby; while it doesnt have the fluffy clouds, this is a very well-known "signature" piece from magritte. illuminating the fact that just because you draw a picture of a pipe doesnt mean that it is actually a pipe...you cant smoke it. in the museum, they also had a small painting of this same pipe with a penis as the mouthpiece. great stuff.)
after the museum, we were feeling pretty lucky, so we went in search of supposedly the "best chocolate in brussels." super posh chocolatier pierre marcolini is one of those places where it doesnt even look like they have anything for sale. just glass cases with the suggestion of chocolate. most things were sold in boxes so you couldnt just choose what you wanted. you were locked into that tiny box with 9 paper-thin chocolates that cost 7€. oh well, we got the saveurs du monde (a taster of the "pure standards" that represent the 8 highest respected chocolate regions in the world).
i didnt like the ambiance of the place, but hoped the chocolates set them apart. since we werent convinced, in the same area (it was like the unofficial chocolate center of the city), was another neuhaus store. we went in to chose a few more items: a plain chocolate truffle, a champagne truffle (yum!), dark chocolate with cocoa butter, and the chocolate mousse (delish!).
(in the "chocolate square," a cafe was showing its love for magritte)
with our sacks of chocolate and magritte book, we headed to the train station to reunite with our bags. got ourselves to the gare midi, and released the beastmaster bag to sit on the tracks and wait for the train. another thalys train, to düsseldorf.
the weather while in brussels was perfection: warm temperatures, clear skies, a breeze, and fluffy white clouds. nearly every time i looked at the sky, i saw a magritte painting. he had a home in brussels (which is also a museum now) and they say that he painted many of his clouds just from his window there. and swoon if i cant see why. crisp, crisp blue with the dense cotton candy puff balls sitting dreamily in the sky. its real. the train ride through belgium was like driving through a magritte landscape. it was hard to admire the hills and treetops when the landscape gained more topography because i was staring at the sky. yes, the saying is art imitates life, but this sky, his inspiration, seemed to know that it was the biggest canvas in the world...and it was strutting its stuff.