Hello everyone, I have a new website: http://komalibxl.com!
From now on, you can follow me there. This WordPress site will no longer be up to date.
Hello everyone, I have a new website: http://komalibxl.com!
From now on, you can follow me there. This WordPress site will no longer be up to date.
Most of the Brussels citizens live in rather small apartments (not like in Paris, but still small), so we spend a lot of time in the public space. Lately I noticed several projects that attempt to make that public space more beautiful. One of the most fun ways to do this is so called Guerrilla Gardening! It’s quite new to me, but they’ve been doing it in big cities like Londen & Paris for a long time, and also in Brussels. Guerrilla Gardening means that you try to make the city greener by dropping seed bombs in bushes and lawns or by planting flowers wherever you want. When the seeds start to grow, you can see some extraordinary flowers where you wouldn’t expect it, like a beautiful sunflower growing out of an old trash can.
There are tutorials on the internet about how to make these seed bombs yourself (see below). I wanted to start my own little guerrilla gardening project so when I found these sheets in Muntpunt, the Dutch library in Brussels, I couldn’t wait to get started. They contain little seeds from plants who’s name is yet unknown. I planted 4 of these sheets in my near environment. Because I like to follow the growing proces from very close and because I’m too curious, I also planted them in a flowerpot on my terrace.
After a few weeks, this is what’s peeping out! Hmm, I still don’t know what it is but they all look different. Anyone who has an idea?
I went looking for a few examples of guerrilla gardening in my own neighborhood and I found this!
And another one. These are rather modest examples of guerrilla gardening, but on the internet you can find more extreme ones like abandoned cars with big colorful flowers growing out of the trunk, or an abandoned baby-buggy with fresh mint growing out of it :). I pay more attention now when walking in the streets and it feels like a surprise when I suddenly see a plant where it shouldn’t be.
Feel free to share pictures of your own guerrilla gardening experiments or pictures of examples you saw in the street!
http://www.guerrillagardening.be (in Dutch)
(movie made by ivypress, found on Youtube)
Who’s in for a cup of tea? Palais des Thés is a shopping walhalla for tea lovers. They have all sorts of tea: black tea, green tea, white tea, smokey black tea, Rooibos, organic tea, Pu Erh tea and Oolong tea. There is so much choice that it becomes exciting :). While shopping, you get to taste the ‘tea of the day’ for free. Besides tea, they also sell accessories like tea bags that you can fill yourself, teacups, bowls and different kind of gift sets. The price of the tea is reasonable since the quality is very high, but I think the accessories are a bit too expensive. Although the gift sets look amazing.
In the shop you can smell every kind of tea and then choose the quantity yourself. It comes in a little bag or in a tin can. If it’s a gift, you can also choose a more pretty package in the shop.
Vive le Thé!
Thé Des Songes.
Rooibos Des Lords.
Grand Jasmin Chun Feng. This green jasmine tea is my favorite!
They also have tea that you can drink as iced tea! I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds like a great idea to create a home made iced tea.
There are only 4 shops in Belgium, and 2 of them are in Brussels! You can also buy tea in the online shop and have it home delivered.
Halle aux Blés, 1000 Brussels (Gare Centrale)
Chaussée de Charleroi, 1000 Brussels (Louisa)
Next week I’m going on vacation and that’s an ideal occasion for me to buy some new books. The plan is to spend lots of time at the beach, so a good book will be very welcome. Brussels has a lot of bookshops , but I only have one favorite: Passa Porta!
It’s not easy to find a shop in Brussels that sells Dutch or English books. Passa Porta has a wide range of Dutch books and a smaller section of English & French books. Even if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can order any book at the reception desk. The best thing about Passa Porta is that they offer a wide choice in different categories: Literature, art, cooking, traveling, philosophy, economy, history, biographies, children’s books etc.
Art books! They have catalogues from recent exhibitions, books about art criticism, photography, design, Belgian & international artists, architecture and so on. The collection is regularly updated.
You can find the regular cooking books, like Jamie Oliver for example, but also more special ones like this book about ceviche. And a lot of vegetarian cooking books.
Travel guides from all over the world, like Lonely Planet, Trotter and National Geographic.
And this is what I came for in the first place! Every summer I buy a new book from Haruki Murakami, a Japanese writer. The first book I read from him was ‘Kafka on the shore’. I didn’t know anything about the writer but I actually was intrigued by the cat on the cover :). Since then I read ‘Norwegian Wood’, the 1q84 trilogy and ‘Dance dance dance’. They never disappointed me.
This time I chose ‘After dark’, a mysterious story about what happens in Tokyo at night. His newest book ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage’ is also for sale in English. In case you were wondering, I’m keeping ‘The wind-up bird chronicles’ for last, because I heard it’s the best one. If you like magic realism you should definitely try this author!
Rue Antoine Dansaert 46, 1000 Brussels
Great colors, right? That is what attracted me in the first place! I went to an exhibition of Parra in Alice Gallery, an artist that I had never heard about before. Parra is an artist from the Netherlands, who lives and works in Amsterdam. From an interview with him in Agenda Magazine (see link below) I learned that he used to be a skater, influenced by skater magazines that he loved to read. He designed his own shirts and tried to sell them in bars. Later he started studying graphic design and today he is becoming more and more known for his drawings, paintings, sculptures and animation & music videos.
He almost always uses red, blue and white colors and the lines are very smooth.
I think it’s quite attractive to look at because it’s not overcomplicated, it is what it is.
Three women strangled to each other. Parra almost never shows a detailed face, it’s more like abstract or invisible.
The thrill of it all. Women with bird-like faces. It makes them kind of anonymous and mysterious.
There is only one sculpture at the exhibition. Check his website for more sculptures (see below)!
Fragment from a music video he made (you can see the whole video at the gallery).
The exhibition is called Salut by Parra and is open until 11/07/2015. Alice Gallery is situated in a little street next to the Place Saint-Catherine. Keep an eye on the gallery website if you’re interested in street art and if you want to discover unknown artists. It’s a very open minded gallery that attracts a younger public.
Alice Gallery – Rue du Pays de Liège 4, 1000 Brussels, from Wednesday to Saturday 14.00 – 18.00 and by appointment – free entrance.
Hello everyone! Have you ever heard of paño? The word comes from pañuelo, which means handkerchief in Spanish. I read about an exhibition in Agenda Magazine last week, called: Paños, Chicano Prison Art. It’s a small exhibition in Recyclart, close to the Central Station.
Here you see half of the exhibition room, so it’s really small, although it’s big enough to expose over 200 paños. Before I show you my favorite ones, let me briefly explain what it means. Chicano is a term that is used to describe the identity of Mexican people living in the US. It’s a mix of Mexican & American culture and it’s often about the struggle of not belonging to one of these cultures, a feeling of in-between. The Chicano community is very proud of its identity and has its own artistic style. The handkerchiefs were collected in American prisons. They were used as a way of communicating with the outside world, but also as a form of artistic expression.
The handkerchiefs with religies themes are usually made for family members.
These ones are kind of cute compared to the ones they make for fellow gang members, as in the next picture.
It makes me think of a movie scene where someone gets killed. Very dark and a bit creepy. The clownesk faces are typical for the Chicano art culture.
Other typical elements: skulls, pinup girls and guns.
… and fancy cars & motorcycles.
Girls, clowns, bandanas & skulls.
And this is my favorite paño! Since today is Father’s Day, this one is for all the fathers :). The drawing is really funny, but the text is so heartbreaking! In general, the drawings are waaaaay too macho for me, but I like their human aspect. If you look underneath the macho layer, these prisoners are very capable of expressing their emotions when communicating with their family.
The collection of paños belongs to the French artist Reno Leplat-Torti and is presented in Recyclart by Jimmy Pantera. You can go see them until 19/06/2015. Sometimes the exhibition room is closed, but ask about it at the reception desk (according the opening hours) and they will open it for you. If you really love the Chicano culture, there are shirts for sale as well.
See you later!
This week is all about organic food, since the bio week just started (until 14/06). Brussels has a lot of shops where you can buy organic food, but I have one absolute favorite: les Ateliers des Tanneurs!
It’s a big covered market 10 minutes walking from the Central Station, very close to Recyclart and the Marolles. Since I’m always looking for gluten free products, I often go to organic shops. Sometimes the fruit & vegetables can be quite expensive, so I buy them in a regular supermarket to make sure I don’t spend too much money. The great thing about this market is that it’s rather cheep, especially when you buy basic products like grains, fruit & vegetables.
All sorts of fruit, according the season.
The market is becoming more and more popular, which is a very good thing. If you want the best bread, come early, because it can be crowded. The picture is taken on Saturday an hour before closing time. It’s calmer then, but you don’t have so much choice left. I would recommend coming earlier.
All kinds of vegetables, according the season.
The bread has a really authentic taste and there is a lot of choice. Unfortunately they don’t have gluten free bread. Maybe in the future.
There is a wide choice of all kinds of nuts, grains and dried fruit. You pay a lot less then in any kind of supermarket and on top of that, it’s organic!
High quality olive oil from Greece. You can come fill your bottle when it’s empty.
I especially love going there on Sundays, when the weather is good. Lots of families come here to do their groceries and they often sell pancakes in the entrance gate. I love the atmosphere!
More organic shopping
Another great shop is Färm! There is one at Place Saint-Cathérine (in the city center) and one very close to Merode.
It’s a bit more expensive, but you have a larger choice of gluten free products.
And if you prefer to buy your products directly from the farmer, try a Ruche in your neighborhood. You can select all the products you want on the website, and pick them up on Saturday morning at a meeting point. There you can meet the farmers and see the products they offer. It’s great because it’s local, often organic and very fresh!
See you next time!
Are you thirsty?
I decided to make one article every month about the best drink I had in the past weeks. For this month, I chose a home made cocktail. Let me introduce you…
A classic Dry Martini with olives! I can call myself lucky that my boyfriend is really good at making cocktails ;). At the moment the classic Martini is my favorite because it’s sophisticated and small. It’s great as a pre-dinner drink and refreshing when sitting in the sun. It’s not that hard to make and yet it feels very festive. This is what you need:
You need two kinds of alcoholic drinks: Bombay Dry Gin (or another kind of gin) & Noilly Prat. Noilly Prat is a dry Vermout from the South of France.
Equipment: a Martini glass, a cocktailshaker (I would recommend the Boston Cocktail Shaker that is half glass, half stainless steel), a little measuring cup and a strainer.
You need 1/5 of Noilly Prat and 4/5 of Gin. For example, if you want to make just one Martini, take 1 cl of Noilly Prat and 4 cl of Gin.
Fill the glass part of the cocktailshaker with ice cubes and add all the ingredients. Then gently stir with a long spoon. You don’t need to shake it!
Pour about half of it in the Martini glass. The strainer ensures that the ices cubes stay in the shaker.
Add two olives on a skewer to make it look more beautiful. If your glass is empty, refill with what’s left in the shaker. This way you make sure that your drink stays cold.
When you have guests, they will be impressed if you serve the Dry Martini like this. It looks quite chique! Eat the olives at the end for a nice salty flavor.
Have a nice Sunday everyone!
This is the final part of my Berlin travel report and not the most easy one! It’s about the Sachsenhausen Memorial, a concentration camp that we visited, just outside Berlin. We took a guided tour that starts at Brandenburger Tor and led us together with a group of people to Sachsenhausen.
I found it quite hard to take pictures, out of respect for all the people who died there. Having that in mind, I hope I managed to give you an impression about the camp with the following pictures.
Our guide told us in detail how the nazi’s treated the prisoners and we were all quite shocked. What stroke me the most was that a lot of different people who did nothing wrong were bullied and harassed in horrible ways. I already knew that they had to work until they couldn’t stand anymore, but why all the additional bullying?
If you have the chance to visit a concentration camp, don’t hesitate. It’s definitely very hard to hear about everything that happened there, but you will never forget it. Anyway, I will never forget it. It really made me think about human nature and what’s going on in the world. Until now, two weeks later, a lot of questions still haunt in my head and I hope they will be for a long time. Because something like that we should never forget, especially if today people in other parts of the world still have to go through similar situations.
Sorry to end the Berlin report with such a depressing idea. Next weekend will be about Brussels again! See you next time.
Berlin has a lot to offer when it comes to art, but of course we are pretty spoiled in Brussels with all the museums and galleries. I visited just one museum in Berlin, but there’s a lot of street art to discover when walking through the city.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is quite famous. It’s an original piece of the Wall that is covered with paintings from different artists after the wall came down in 1989. A lot of the artworks have been damaged over the years, some of them have been restored. I had very high expectations but when I finally saw it, I felt a bit disappointed. I think it’s overrated, although it was probably very impressive as a statement in 1990.
Teufelsberg means ‘devilish mountain/hill’ in German. After World War II, they created this hill by using the remains of ruined buildings from Berlin. Underneath was a nazi military school that was so strong that it couldn’t be blown up, so they decided to create a hill to make it disappear. In the 50’s the Americans created a massive interception system on top of it to spy on the communists. They used it until 1990. A few years ago you could visit it illegally by using one of the many holes in the fence, but today it’s watched by a group of people who organise ‘silent tours’ for €7 per person. It doesn’t look fair to me, but they say they help to protect the building from vandalism. If you are a bit creative, you can still manage to get in without paying the entrance fee.
Hamburger Bahnhof is a museum of contemporary art, located in a former railway station, presenting paintings, sculptures & installations from the 60’s until today. The most famous artists in this museum are Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Cy Twombly & Mathew Barney. There was a temporary exhibition of Michael Beutler, an artist I never heard of before, but I could really appreciate his work.
This was part II of my Berlin travel report. Make sure you see part I about city impressions & part III about the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen (coming soon).
See you next time!