CALL ME MABEY

Archive for the category “Belgium”

Madonna concert

We spent most of Thursday sleeping in, doing laundry, packing for the next 2 weeks and of course getting ready for the Madonna concert. I’ve always wanted to see her live and was unhappy when I saw that all the US/Canada concert dates were all in the fall, so this concert was what really got the ball rolling with this trip to visit Alison. She’s the one who secured the tickets and the experience certainly lived up to my expectations. We had wine to toast the occasion and then we caught the metro. I picked up a concert tee and program and we had pre show street waffles.

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There were about 40,000 in attendance at Roi Baudouin Stadium, which is partly open air and the stadium stands are covered. We had 4th row seats in the stadium. The opening act started shortly after 9pm, after they decided to cover the stage in carpet as the forecast was for rain showers.
A techno DJ Marin Solvteg was the opening act and he mixed a great selection of songs, both of Madonna and current radio favourites.

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This video gives you can idea of the stadium set up. At 0.07 sec pause the video. It shows a rectangular plastic cover for one of the video cameras, we were in the lower part of the stadium just to the left of that shelter. (note: I did not take any of these videos)

Waiting for the show to start

The show got underway shorty after 10pm. The opening had a heavy religious slant (monk like costumes, giant incense censer, bell tower and church projection) and she appeared silhouetted in a confession type pose. This shattered away, leaving her on a top platform and they went into Girls Gone Wild. Great energy for the opening number, she was really singing (although she had a lot of backup and most likely prerecorded support). She can keep up with her dancers and I loved the floor work sections. The stage had a number of vertical platforms and the lights and projections changed frequently for each number.

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(both of these photos are from madonnarama.com)

Revolver was next, followed by Gang Bang, both from the new album. Lots of guns and violence but that’s what the songs are about. The set for Gang Bang was cool, blood projections would spatter as each “lover” was shot and the girls dancing in Revolver reminded me of a spy/Charlie’s angles type routine.

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(these photos are also from madonnarama.com)

An updated Papa don’t preach was next followed by Hung Up (playing guitar) and then I don’t give a … which ended the set with her sinking into the stage for a costume change.

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(photo #2 and #3 are actually my photos, the others are from madonnarama.com)

The second set was awesome. They marched on stage with the cheerleader/majorette costumes and did a great mix of Express Yourself, which then went into a mash up of Gaga’s Born this Way, with a bunch of “she’s not me” thrown in before a drum line began and segued into Give Me All Your Luvin’ complete with drummers suspended from the rigging. Amazing energy and we were dancing the whole time.

Video of this section from Istanbul

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(both of these photos are from fastcocreate.com)

The next section was my absolute favourite and I expected it to be. It started with dancers with white masks which led into a series of finger snaps so I knew it was Vogue. This was also the best costume, Gautier designed homage to the cone bra corset over white silk shirt, black tie, pinstripe pants with silver pocket watch chain. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Dancers costumes were just right and I could have gone home after it was done. But candy shop, human nature and a slow version of like a virgin with an umbrella in the full out rain that was coming down at that point did not disappoint.

Video from this set

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(photo #3 is my own, photo #1 is from fastcocreate.com and the others are from madonnarama.com)

The show ended with full choir version of like a prayer followed by a neon party rock version of celebration. We were wet and tired out by that point but still dancing along.

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(both of these photos are from fastcocreate.com)

The rest of the night was frustrating. On our way there, the signs in the metro indicated they would be running after the concert, past when the metro would normally stop. But even though we arrived to the metro before midnight, everything was closed. So we followed the crowd to some muddy parking lot (it was raining quite a bit at this point) and we tried another metro, which again was locked up too). Eventually we found a bus shelter and called Andrew who thankfully came to get us. It was exhausting as we had to be up just a few hours later for our flight to Copenhagen, but I’m glad that I went and all in all I had an amazing time.

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Rain, rain go away

The weather here has been wet for the last few days, so our sightseeing has slowed a bit. On Thursday we visited a farmer’s market and picked up fresh bread and charcuterie. It was a real mix of vendors selling everything from clothing and cosmetics to flowers and fruits and vegetables.
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Thursday afternoon we went shopping at Dod. Dod reminded me the store Century 21 in NYC, but if you haven’t been there, think of a large multi level Winners or TJmaxx. Designer labels from last season with discounted prices. I resisted the €50 Valentino scarves and picked up a pair of pewter leather flats for less than €25. We found quite a few nice pieces for Alison and walked home quickly in the rain.

The shopping continued on Friday after we drove Anne to the airport for her flight to Spain. We went to the Woluwe shopping center. It was very similar to North American malls, except of course for the stores. I enjoyed shopping at Ms Mode, Paprika (both clothing stores) and my favourite store form my last European trip, Oil and Vinegar.

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20120707-230840.jpgJust a few of my shopping finds

Thursday’s supper was a feast at Alison and Andrew’s, starting with the cheese, bread and charcuterie we purchased at the market. We had boudin de Liege, mousse au sauternes and pâté de campagne.

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The main course took a 180 degree turn with Chana Masala and butter chicken over Basmati rice. Alison is a talented chef and we lingered over the table chatting and having a great time. After dinner Andrew mixed Caipirinhas, Brazilian muddled drinks, for Alison and I.

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Friday night we went to the wine bar that I have been dying to go to since Alison posted about it on her blog Cheeseweb. We went with Vi, Alison’s Latvian economist/photographer friend, who also was with us earlier in the week at Le coin des artistes. This place has the wine scene all figured out; lots of by the glass availability from around the globe, a boutique to purchase your favorites to take home with you, and bite size scrumptious tapas to keep you satisfied and lingering well into the night.

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But above all, the automatic wine dispensers are ingenious. You purchase a pre-paid debit card that you insert into a small glass display case with 8 bottles of wine and select the amount you wish to have ( just a small taste, a half glass or full glass). The prices are displayed on the touch screen and your card is debited the amount. And I have to say that all the wines I tried were delicious, but the best was an Italian red that I had close to the end of the evening.

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Stay tuned tomorrow for my first post about Paris!

Parks and chocolate and beer, oh my!

Today’s travels took us to a number of public parks. It was great to see so many green spaces and so many people taking advantage of these areas either on their lunch hour or mid afternoon breaks. We started the day at parc cinquantenaire with the beautiful arch, and ended up in parc ambiorix with fountains and fragrant flowers.

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We saw the Canadian embassy and home of the EU, Berlymont. We also saw a variety of architecture types all within a few blocks.

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On the way home, we stopped at Neuhaus so Anne could have her first taste of belgian chocolate. It did not disappoint 🙂

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Somehow yesterday’s belgian waffle did not get posted so I’ve decided to include it here (in all it’s strawberry and chocolate goodness)

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Last night’s supper was at an cozy French restaurant, Le coin des artistes. It was such a perfect meal and we talked and laughed until midnight. I had duck breast and roasted vegetables, while Anne had cod with mashed potatoes. The red wine was amazing and the grand dame dessert was light and satisfying.

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Tonight Alison made pasta with olive oil, sausage, roasted red pepper and onions. It was delicious. I took some time our to Skype with Stewart on the patio, it’s just a comfy spot.

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We went out for after dinner drinks and dessert and had intended to sit outside on a terrace. The thunderstorm sent us inside, but the belle vue framboise beer, Campari and creme brûlée did not disappoint.

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Tomorrow we plan to visit a farmers market, do some shopping at Dot and experience Belgian frites!

Arrival in Belgium

Yesterday was a day of travel via Icelandair to Brussels, Belgium. Our flight got in around 9:20pm and Alison and Andrew picked us up and gave us a quick driving tour on our way to their flat. We saw the Atomium, originally built for Expo ’58, which now twinkles at night. We also saw the exposition grounds, and took glimpses of the royal palace, Chinese and Japanese pavilions and drove through the central tunnels to see the Cinquantenaire park lit up at night.

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We had a good night sleep and set off this afternoon towards the city center. We walked by the parliament building and the took a walk through Parc Royale. In the park they had a number of temporary sculptures depicting traditional Belgium food.

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We continued past the royal palace, musical instrument museum and took our picture at Mont des Arts. We then continued to Grand Place but there was temporary stadium seating set up for an event, so some of the buildings were difficult to photograph.

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We made the obligatory stop to see Manneken Pis and the it was all about shopping and food 🙂
We visited Les Galeries Saint Hubert, the glassed roof shopping arcade. We saw Belgium lace, expensive leather purses and shoes and most important of all: chocolate!

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We ended our afternoon eating with Belgian waffles. I had a liege waffle with vanilla ice cream, strawberries and chocolate sauce. It was absolutely delicious. Tonight we are taking it easy, resting up for more adventures tomorrow.

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