What to seeBrussels art

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium is an attraction you just cant miss. The Museum is actually made up of four different galleries, the Magritte, Modern Art, Old Masters and the dreamily named ‘Every end is a new beginning’ gallery. They are really good value as well, I think we only paid €4 for a multi pass that got us into all four.

The lady at the front desk said that the Modern art part was closed which I was bummed about, but although the main part of the museum had closed they had moved the popular bits all through out the other museums, which was fine by me (I love just seeing the good bits).

My favourite had to be the two rows of sculptures, that poked fun of the traditional Roman bust. What started off normal quickly turned weird the further you got down the row with the addition of horns, poked out tongues and sunglasses. It was so bizarre and fun and I fell head over heels for it.Green with horns

We originally went there for the Magritte museum, you will know his most famous painting  of the man in a bowler hat with an apple for a face. Not hugely a fan of the style, but that painting was the lead character in the Pierce Brosnan movie the Thomas Crown Affair, so of course I had to visit. Although maybe I shouldn’t have asked the serious man behind the desk the way to the James Bond museum, he looked less than amused.

Where to eat

Brussels saladThe obvious answer to this is anywhere that sells waffles. But since they are on every menu and street corner I thought I would go a bit left field and tell you about a salad bar in an art gallery, the Green Kitchen Restaurant at the Belvue Museum. I know, you normally don’t go healthy on a holiday but these salads are tasty in the extreme.

You get one of the massive bowls and then create the salad of your dreams yourself. There is pretty much every topping you can think of, I went for sun dried tomatoes, feta, pumpkin seeds and meat and things. Then when you have finished your salady masterpiece you take it to the nice Belgian man who weighs it, that’s right all their prices are based on weight.

Then you can sit down and relax in the light filled atrium and feel good about your healthy choice of lunch and make plans for your next waffle stop.

What to doEU Map room

The Parlamentarium is one of the most fun learning places that I have been to in Europe. Full disclose I have a degree in Politics so I am a bit of a dork when it comes to this topic, but it was still a phenomenally interactive museum to visit. At the door you get a fancy shmancy audio guide, which when you hold it next to a photo or display will burst into life and start spewing history into your ears.

EU People room
Stand out parts of the museum were the comfy lounge set up where you could put up your feet and listen to stories of real life Europeans who the initiatives have directly helped. The giant map on the floor was pretty cool too, with roller podiums that revealed how the European Parliament has changed those countries (when we could get it working…we were being a bit special). And by far my favourite room was the mock parliament room that where the round walls turned into video screens to put you in the heart of the voting action. Although I really hope that the actual parliament dosent have iPad games to play while you are sitting down…

EU

How to get thereI was more excited about taking the Eurostar than I was about the day in Brussels. Something about train travel is so special, to be able to get from London to Europe without taking a plane is just magic. The Eurostar takes about two hours, which for me was just enough time to fall asleep and start drooling on the lumberjack that was sitting next to me (why do I always get into these situations?).

When you get to Brussels the metro is super easy to navigate, and we found that the most cost effective ticket to be the all day pass. Although the metro did lead to the best ever ‘first line’ that a country has ever given me…

Scene – Runawaykiwi purchases a metro pass, and then is too slow when going through the barrier, she approaches a friendly Belgian metro man for assistance.


Runawaykiwi: “I put it in and the doors closed”
Mr Belgian: “Thats what happens with my wife”

 

A massive thanks to Eurostar for sending me to Brussels and Bruges, Eurostar offers any Belgian station tickets from £79 return, with stations including Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and stations along the Belgian Coast. Eurostar operates up to 9 daily services from London St Pancras International to Brussels Midi and from there passengers use their any Begian station ticket to connect on to local services to their final destination. Fastest London-Brussels journey time is 2 hrs. Tickets are available from eurostar.com or 08432 186 186.

Tower Bridge at Night

Last year I was out and about every weekend, as well as least two or three nights during the week. I was visiting restaurants, discovering art exhibitions and sitting in the gods at the theatre. Then around came 2014 and I just stopped. I don’t know why I’ve stopped planning and adventuring, but I arrive at each weekend with nothing to do. I drink coffee, go for walks and of course blog, but I’m not out exploring the amazing city that I live in.

The words I live by

My reason for lack of art is because there are no exhibitions that excite me at the moment. Last year it was like every museum was catering specifically for me, we had Bowie, Lichtenstein and Schwitters as well as secret poster art and National Trust beauties. But this year? I’m yet to read about an exhibition that I am amped for. Fingers crossed there is something later in the year that they just haven’t announced yet, but right now? Nothing I would leave the couch for.

Peter and Alice

Now there are some theatre shows that I would love to see. But ever since the roof collapsed at the Apollo Theatre I’ve been less than eager to book tickets. I know that seems silly, it was only one fluke accident after all, but I can so easily see it happening again. Every central London theatre I’ve been to (sitting in the gods after all) has seemed like it wouldn’t last in a strong wind. I remember in one theatre a man sneezing on the other end of the row and the entire section shook. I always comforted myself with the knowledge that I was in one of the most overbearing Health and Safety societies out there, that was until the Apollo. Turns out they don’t have it as under control as I thought. The answer is probably to go further afield to the new theatres built in zone 2-4, but sadly that turns into at least an hour’s travel each way…a bit too much for a school night when the tickets are affordable.

My other go to option is something creative, but I feel like I’ve plateaued on my old hobbies (painting and jewellery making) and without some significant effort (read: money and/or time) they aint going anywhere. I would love to try some new things, but it looks like I would have to mortgage my non-existent house to do a pottery or design course in London…not ideal.

Lacking art, theatre and craft I have a few options:
a) Plot world domination
b) Refresh twitter every four and a half seconds
c) Become an alcoholic

Currently I have selected option b, but I think my iPad is starting to wear out from all the scrolling.

The Depressed Cake Shop

So how am I going to kick myself out of this accidental hibernation? It seems like after two years I have become complacent about this magnificent city, after all I know I’m going to be here long term so laziness takes precedent over the urgent need to SEE ALL THE THINGS. But at the same time I am dissatisfied with my hibernation, I want to get out and do things. So I want the best of all worlds?

My first attempt at kicking myself into action is a small trip to Belgium (watch this space!), but if you have any ideas, or know of any upcoming fun things, please comment or tweet me!

Love runawaykiwi

Postcard photo

My parents both turned 60 this year (they first met when they failed science together in high school) and for ages I was stuck for how to celebrate with them. I mean I was across the world, not so easy to plan a party, make a speech or even just hug them on their birthday. So I came up with quite possibly my most elaborate craft product to date, this is the story of the 60 postcards.

I took it back to the most basic form of communication we have from across the globe, not even a heart filled letter just the simple picture postcard. But these were, of course a little different. I designed the 60 postcards to be an elaborate birthday speech from my sister and I, with a few messages from their friend as well, and then got them all printed by the Big Robot at Moo.

IMG_3859
The postcards started with photos from the trips we had taken together, with text hidden in billboards or on menus. Then we had the messages from their friends. Remember that scene in Love Actually when that guy from the Walking Dead declares his love for Keira Knightly? Well those cards were the example I used when asking all their friends for help. What I got back were pictures of everyone who loves them holding some of the funniest, most sincere and downright rude birthday messages I have ever seen.

So one by one I sent these messages across the globe, between them all they covered 1,099,500km and not a single one went missing!

My parents were vastly confused at first when they started receiving one post card a week, and I can only imagine what the postman thought as he delivered them in ones and twos over five months. But they loved them (I think!), and without doubt it made me feel one hell of a lot more involved in their celebrations from the other side of the world.

Choi Jeong Hwa Flower Chandelier

Y’all know I’m a gallery ghost, so what was a trip home without a visit to the Auckland Art Galley. It may not be as grand or old as some of the European galleries, but somehow walking through those doors just feels like home.

The gallery was expanded a few years ago, where they managed to combine the existing colonial building with a modern glass structure. It means that from almost every room you get glimpses of the lush green park that the gallery backs on to. Nowhere else have I seen a gallery with such indoor outdoor flow, although that gap just matches the kiwi psychology which values nature just as much as art.

Auckland Art Gallery

Oh and there was some art as well! I will always love the giant inflatable flower sculpture by Choi Jeong Hwa that hangs from the ceiling like a Disney chandelier (above).

But even better than the art and the architecture is the branding. In every piece of signage, in every flag and information leaflet there is art. Literally. They have highlighted art in every message about the place, I love such a simple and effective piece of branding.