Art Nouveau & The Abbey

In the late 19th century, Brussels was a centre for avant-garde design and architect Victor Horta created a new style, later labelled Art Nouveau. Featuring sensuous curves elaborated in wrought iron, mosaics, stained glass, murals and woodwork. Today, his former house has been transformed into a museum.     Brussels, and Belgium for that matter, has an impressive array of haute cuisine choices – without the Paris prices, as one commented to me.   I stayed at The Dominican in Brussels. A converted Dominican Abbey has found new life as a hotel that is a member of the Design Hotel group. It…

Brussels

One compact city, Brussels was brought into the world spotlight when it became the European Union capital in 1992. Inspired by Art Nouveau and Surrealism, Brussels is not an easy city to know. However, it has great museums, comic strips, chocolate stores on every block, wonderful beer, and haute cuisine without the Paris prices. The Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts houses many art greats that are remarkably homegrown. The Rubens and Brueghel collections are impressive and the size of the museum would not make one feel overwhelmed.

Ghent

A day trip to Ghent from Brussels proved to be quite rewarding, despite the rain. A city rich with medieval buildings and treasures inherited from its days of a prosperous trading centre. First stop was the St. Bavo Cathedral which houses one of the greatest cultural treasure in Northern Europe – Jan Van Eyck’s “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb“. This huge polyptych is a 12 panel former altar masterpiece, that has been moved to a side room for preservation.   Stopping for lunch at Coeur d’Artichaut is highly recommended. An elegant old mansion by the canal serving high standard cuisine….

Flemish Art, Food, Etc.

Two museums in Bruges that house some of the world’s finest collection of Medieval and Flemish art are the Groeningemuseum and the Sint-Janshospital. Both museums contain an impressive collection of Hans Memling and Jan van Eyck.     For food lovers, there are quite a number of excellent restaurants in Bruges. Many serving Flemish cuisine. There are also tea rooms that dot the city, serving tea, coffee, pastries, and of course, Belgian waffles.       I stayed at the Grand Hotel Casselberg Brugge, consisting of a 19th century building and a new wing, with rooms that face the canal. The hotel…