LEUVEN AND GHENT
If photos of Brussels can best be described as odd and comic, then Leuven and Ghent photos are downright surreal and dark.
I had only two days to take day trips by train from Brussels, with four candidate destination cities: Antwerp, Bruges, Leuven and Ghent. Antwerp seemed fancy with all its diamond trade, but perhaps less “authentic” for the same reason. I ruled it out. And Bruges is like the show Modern Family to me: if “everyone” likes it then I can’t like it. Plus, the movie sucked. That left Leuven and Ghent.
Both Leuven and Ghent were easily accessible by train from Brussels — a quick ride. Leuven was wonderful but Ghent STOLE MY HEART! I swear, that day I was there in July, the town was absolutely abuzz and (after a beer or two) I was convinced that it was the best place to be in the world at that moment. I’ve never before felt such energy from a place …
Anyway, both cities proved to be extremely photogenic. I submit for your viewing enjoyment my Leuven and Ghent photos…
LEUVEN AND GHENT PHOTOS in this POST
LIFE – DEATH – LOVE – HATE – PLEASURE – PAIN flashed above my head in neon splendor, clicking loudly from one mysterious term to the next. Photographs are forbidden inside the Saint Bavo Cathedral but I risked hell to capture the bizarre-yet-fabulous modern art being exhibited there.
This exhibit just may have been the best thing I’ve ever seen. Such a juxtaposition. Historic building; modern images. Christian house of worship; nods towards violence, Islam, pornography. The wrath of God; devilish playfulness.
What’s up with the Islamic prayer rug? At least that’s what I think it is. Could be wrong.
And if that rug isn’t odd enough for you, there were bunches of daggers piercing the floor in the shadows of the priestly garments displayed behind them.
And then upon exiting, the bigger-than-lifesize-photo of a naked woman. WTF?
I was so, so, so impressed with the modern art exhibit at Saint Bavo, I applaud the Belgians’ open-mindedness towards art, sexuality, religion…You would never find this thought-provoking display in any church in the uptight U.S.
I wandered only a few blocks from Saint Bavo and stumbled upon a grafitti-filled alley. Ghent seems to just embrace this alternative form of expression: a shop on not insignificant street not far from the alley sold only cans of spray paint in greater than 250 colors.
I’m fascinated by the fact that this college town of approximately the same size as Madison, Wisconsin is home to not only a cathedral of the magnitude of Saint Bavo but also a design museum, the Design museum Gent, worthy of New York City, London or Hong Kong.
My Leuven photos don’t quite measure-up to my Ghent photos — and the city paled slightly in comparison to its big sister. On the other hand, where else have you seen architecture like this in a town with a population of only 100,000?
The stunning structure in the pictures above and below is Leuven’s town hall in Grote Markt (Grand Place) square. You aren’t likely to miss it.
And lastly… those wacky Europeans! Out walking their ferrets on a leash in their leopard-print skirts. I hadn’t seen anything that weird since, well, since only 3 days earlier when I encountered a woman in Stockholm sitting at a bar with her cat…