My Life as a Traveler

Concerts, Characters, and Chocolates

It’s easier to get to a live music concert when we’re traveling than when we’re at home.

First, you don’t have to get in the car and drive somewhere, find parking, maybe pay for parking, then get back, sometimes late at night.  When you stay in the city, you can just walk, or take the metro or bus.

Second, the possibilities! Usually, we go to the Botanique next door to the Sheraton to hear live music, but it’s just not working for us this trip. I’ve been to rock concerts, jazz concerts, and classical concerts under the dome of King Leopold’s 1880’s glass garden during past trips, but Morgan claimed to be too tired to go on our free night.

Third, often it is not expensive. Many European countries subsidize the arts, which make them affordable to everyone.

Today, we go to the opera house for a Concertini – a mini-concert by some of the musicians who are playing for the opera in the evening. It’s at 12:30pm; the time was posted on the side of the Opera House – I didn’t see it anywhere else. It was just $10 for a one hour virtuoso performance by a four piece string quartet.

The concert wasn’t held in the main opera hall, but in a beautiful baroque room lined with mirrors and frescos. The ceiling alone was worth the price. The three violin players and one cello came in – the cello player looked like he was about 17. The music was early 1900’s modern, quite discordant at times. Some of the songs reminded me of Apocalyptica  a group of four classically-trained guys on cellos who cover Metallica songs. It was fun to watch the faces of the musicians as they cued each other, then got into the music. One violinist was literally rising out of her chair during particularly moving stanzas.

After the concert, Adele and Bergen wanted to see some of our favorite shopping venues. First, we stopped at the Comic Book Museum, which has a fun gift shop and is located in a Victor Horta 1920’s Art Deco building. Belgium is the home of a number of comic book characters, TinTin for example, which you may or may not recognize. My favorites, however, are the Smurfs. Did you know they came from Belgium? Last time we visited here, I learned that there were something like 100 different Smurf characters. 100! Love those little blue guys (and gals)!

Then we went to my favorite chocolate shop, Mary’s Chocolatier. Known for its extremely high quality, it is widely recognized as the best of the many chocolate makers in town famous for its chocolate. It was our lucky day at Mary’s as well. The salesperson behind the counter normally worked in the office, so she was having fun waiting on us instead of organizing exports in the back room. She was extremely generous with the samples and even Morgan ate some brown chocolate. I bring a box home and have one per day until they’re gone.

Onward to our favorite clothing store, DOD. I don’t know what it stands for (Dressing Or Dreaming?) but it’s one of the best stores in town for discount designer duds. There’s a separate store for women, for men, for shoes, and for kids. We don’t shop a lot for clothes at home, but when we do, it is hard to find things that fit Morgan that he likes. Fourteen is a hard age to dress – too small for men’s, too big or don’t like the styles in the boys. Fortunately, we can almost always find something for Morgan. This time we found a cool sweater and a long-sleeved shirt of a bust of a lion wearing a general’s uniform. I found a couple things for me, too.

Back to the room, we head up to the lounge, have some munchies, get a doner kebab sandwich from across the street, and call it a day.

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