So, my mom casually commented on my lack of updates here which confirms two things: a) I have been away for a longer time than is healthy for someone who keeps a blog, and b) my mom reads this (hi, mama!). In any case, I was going to make an update, when there was a server error here (that I did not appreciate), and then the moment passed and I wrote on my beauty blog, Softly Sometimes, instead.
My mom pointed out that I hadn’t even finished posting about Europe yet, and now I have
begrudgingly put together a photo post of Belgium. Now, Belgium wasn’t a major destination in terms of our itinerary. We took a day trip there because we were in between places (Amsterdam & London) and we figured it would be worth our while to make a stop over.
Because we were going to be walking around, I stashed the digital camera I brought along with me in one of the train lockers. These are the only pictures (aside from a few shots on my Diana Baby/110 camera) you will see of Brussels. The wider angle photos were taken with an LC-A+ (with a wide lens attachment & loaded with Kodak Ektar 100) and the more close-cropped ones were taken with a Nikon FM2 (loaded with Lomo CN 400). I hope you enjoy!
Fun Fact: Tintin is of Belgian descent, apparently!
Some pictures from various train rides. During the course of the month, I believe we’ve had at least thirteen major transfers when we were trying to get from city to city. This doesn’t include day trips to Château Versailles or Schloss Neuschwanstein. The novelty of train rides quickly wore off, when we had to haul all of our luggage, stow them in easily-accessible places, and then run to the next far-away platform for a transfer to our final destination.
Not that I’m complaining, though. Sometimes, train rides can still be magical. See for yourself.
(I don’t understand my title segregation and formats anymore, but I think they are pretty descriptive anyway, so whatever you need to find should be easy to find.)
(To get to our accommodations, you have to pass by a small doorway that leads into a bigger alley, which goes into the Jewish ghetto. Outside that doorway, though, is a canal and some sort of fish market, which I only see in the morning.)
I think it’s no secret that we, for some reason, have a strange fondness for feeding pigeons. One sunny day in Venice, we decided to stop by the Rialto (of course) and the Piazza San Marco, also known as the Pigeon Capital of the World. I mean, I would guess.
I loved going around Venice. It has a sort of labyrinthine feel to it, with a lot of narrow streets and ominous passageways that lead up to a beautiful piazza or a bridge to take you to another part of Venice. It’s a little difficult to get around, but you get to see a lot of wonderful things. Like this row of pretty-colored houses, for instance.
It’s quite nice to shop and look around, too. However, you kind of need to scout for the best price. A lot of Italian stores, especially the ones located near tourist attractions, sell the same things for varying prices, so if you spot a great deal, you should go for it.
We took a water bus or vaporetto to save time, and also to see some of the buildings from a view on the water. This, for example, is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, with a great Calder piece (it’s a dog!) visible from the canal. When my parents were last in Venice, people could disembark from water-based vehicles onto this side of Peggy Guggenheim, but I don’t think they do that now, since it leads right into the building, bypassing the ticketing office.
Santa Maria della Salute. We didn’t get to visit this gorgeous place, but I read more about it here.
Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square, is often called “the Piazza,” and aside from the Rialto bridge, this is where tourists flock to. According to Wikipedia (lol), “it is one of the few great urban spaces in Europe where human voices prevail over the sounds of motorized traffic.”
The thing I love about Italy is that they take their piazzas (and their pizzas, hehe!) very seriously. I had a hard time leaving Italy because I knew there would be no public spaces and squares—at least no pleasant ones—waiting for me in Manila. I remember filching a shirt from my sister, which was designed by Team Manila, with a slogan emblazoned on the front: We need more parks. Indeed-y, we do.
Like I said, we love feeding pigeons. It reminded me of a strip by a softer world, where a devious plan to feed pigeons some uncooked rice (they expand when wet), for a pigeon explosion. I did not try it out to see if it’s an accurate hypothesis.
St. Mark’s Basilica takes up most of the Piazza. I love this place. It’s a hodge-podge of aesthetic and cultural styles (Byzantine mosaics, holla!), and I LOVE IT. I know some people think it’s atrocious, but I am of the belief that it is wonderful. Because it totally is.
Sassy green pigeon, gnawing on a normal-colored pigeon.
Pigeon bath! We witnessed the assertion of territorial superiority. It was quite fascinating, but mostly it was funny.
P.S. I colored these photos quite a bit. As you can see.
On our first afternoon in Venice, we walked around the Jewish ghetto and the surrounding areas. Cut short by the rain, our exploration ended at a quaint coffee shop (which turned out to be a chain), where I had the most amazing lemon meringue. The rain let up, and instead going back to the hotel, we decided to venture out near the city center. We were met with the most amazing sunset.
Slowly, the sky changed from a brilliant orange into a vivid sort of purple. It wasn’t a bruised-up sky, but a bright, tinted purple. Somehow, as we found ourselves at the edge of Venice, as we chased the sun down. It was thrilling and somewhat romantic. Our sprint was cut short by the water, and the scene unfolded like something I would have liked to read about in a story or to watch in a film.
Taken with my iPhone 4 & Instagram
I know that people often consider Paris as the City of Love and Romance, but I truthfully felt this buzzing, swelling feeling in Venice. Crazy, right? Maybe it’s all the American tourists aboard the gondoliers at every turn, or something in the air (love?). But perhaps it’s sunsets like this, introduced by heavy rains and a rainbow, coloring everything with a wash of warmth. Or witnessing a man’s proposal to a beautiful woman on a random street corner, accompanied by “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on an accordion.
Sometimes, I witness something remarkably, undeniably magical, and I wonder how these things fall into place. I wonder about the possibility and the likelihood that I be a piece of these puzzles, and I think about how lucky I am to have been a part of this one little pocket of magic—in Venice, no less!—that afternoon.