Our brush with bustling Brussels (say 3X quickly)

Feb. 22, 2014: Day 7 of the Belgian Adventure
Another breakfast assembly of bleary-eyed people. And us as well. A few of last night’s partiers appear to be bleary-stomached as well. Meet Nicolas and Laurence so that L can practice her tour guide routines: figure she is working on getting a licence. Quick trip by train into Brussels. Disappointed that we do not see any sprout farms.

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On arrival head for Grand Place/Grote Markt to blend in with other tourists. Square is large enough to put in a rink. Look forward to Canada-Belgium game at next Olympics. Laurence leads us through various streets to take up us the Mont des Arts. Confusing number of royal palaces/places. Wonder how they kept track of each other without cell phones. Coffee and chocolate major purchases. Magritte and Art nouveau Musical Instruments Museum building pointed out to us. No sprout museum. Disappointed. Group splits up for various activities.

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Wander through the Museum square, heading for lunch and Harp Centre. Great architecture, some not-so-great architecture. Mistakes or student projects? Do not see sprout motif anywhere: disappointed. End up at restaurant that only speaks Flemish. Manage to order lunch and avoid international incident. Arrive at Marie Palentine’s Harp Centre to pay for harp rental. Fascinating! Samantha intrigued with harp lift next to stairs. Funky apartment/performance space/bar/business centre. Must get one for UBC. Nicolas and Laurence know Marie’s partner Bernard Tirtiaux’s work — short visit is too short. Head back to visit Musical Instrument Museum. Impressed by espaliered shade trees in Parc Royale. Could be natural beach volleyball nets? Maybe shade for sprout plants. Travel is so broadening.

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Instrument museum is great. Good portable audio interface for each person. Displays show parallels and continuity for IMPART. Solutions to music technology problems. Some ridiculous instruments. Just like IMPART. Too late for Magritte, so head to Place Grande to rejoin group for dinner. Brilliant time at Orts restaurant: fabulous food. No sprouts, but assuage disappointment with lovely blanche beer. Wend our way back to train station, supporting local chocolate trade on way. Important to keep economy and blood sugar levels buoyant. Manage to find correct track. Near-incomprehensible conversation with conductor: how can two different trains leave at exactly the same time from the same track? Amused by arrival of beer train celebrants. Ride our own train back to Mons. Spend evening with students testing single malt and re-living Keith and Bob’s ridiculous UBC teaching stories. Funny for K and B: odd for students to see K and B thinking it is funny. Call it a wrap. Fall asleep wondering where the sprouts are.

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Arts, Science, and Engineering students working on gesture-tracking environments for use in responsive/interactive performances.
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