Happy Saturday! I had mentioned to Vanessa that I’d like to go makeup shopping with her, and she happily obliged. We piled into the car, and Severine dropped us off in a shopping area.
Morgane tried on the lipsticks, while I shopped for some foundation. The last time I bought foundation was in 2009, with my mom in Atlanta!

All dolled up:

Severine dropped me la gare, the train station, and I took the Thalys to Paris! Flora met me at the train station and made me incredibly comfortable in her family’s home. They have an apartment on the top floor, with a huge wrap-around terrace, and a view of all of Paris!

Flora and I got dressed and headed to Barramundi, a restaurant/discotheque, to celebrate her friend Caroline’s birthday.

We had a delicious meal (I timidly choose the tempura chicken, and loved it!) Only in France can you meet friends for dinner at 8pm, and get the check around midnight. Just as we finished our meal, the DJ’s volume went up, food disappeared from the tables, and servers started bottle service: the restaurant was closed and the club was starting to fill up!

I got a glass of water from the bar and was charmed by the way they serve their cocktails at night: in a glass with a lid and a straw. This is good for two reasons: 1, you don’t worry about spilling on the dance floor, and 2, date-rape drug protection! That blur to the left is Flora dancing.

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I spent a leisurely morning by myself, catching up with computer stuff, some job searching, and practicing French (I’m starting to translate Le Petit Prince). Vanessa took Marlene and I out for an Italian lunch. I ordered a truffle pasta. When they brought the food to the table, the server pulled out a glass container full of black truffles, and shaved an entire one on my plate! Do I have to say it was delicious? Oh my gosh so tasty!


We went to pick up the kids from school. They’re excited because next week is vacation for them! They’ve earned good marks this quarter, and Morgane gets to visit Haiti, and Xavier will go to Paris!

I headed downtown in the rain for a couple of hours and saw Sablon, two neighboring squares with a big beautiful church in the middle. Blame the rain for the lack of pictures. I returned to Severine et Geraud’s just in time for a big family dinner.

Xavier politely served up the riz djon djon:

The kids facetimed with their cousins in Haiti, and everyone was happy to say hello!

After dinner we all played a card game. It reminded me of the game nights I had with my sister and parents as a child. Then we went to le vinoteque, the winebar! Somehow I have no pictures of David, probably because he was sitting right beside me both at dinner and at le vinoteque. Ah, too bad!

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Today Yves took me on a tour of Brussels. I took so many pictures with him in it, that I’m calling today’s p0st “Where’s Yves,” after the Where’s Waldo cartoon. We started with des gaufres liégeoises, sweet waffles from Liege that are commonly found as a street food.


We walked over to the Matisse museum. Matisse is one of Severine, Yves’ daugther’s favourite painters. I hadn’t learned about him since high school and I was eager to expand my knowledge. The museum itself is beautiful; I love how much attention to detail is paid to not just the art, but the architecture that houses it. The dynamics of a room, of the light, of the presentation within the space brings greater magnificence to the artwork.

I couldn’t take pictures inside the Magritte museum, but it was completely enchanting. I could easily have spent three times as long there. I learned about how his mother committed suicide when he was young; how he fell in love with Georgette, his wife and muse; how he explored mystery and enchantment in his works; and how he never named his own paintings, but rather held “titling sessions” every Sunday where he would present his work to his friends and allow them to choose a title that wasn’t necessarily related to the subject of the painting. His works are manifestations of ideas, and I loved learning about the train of thought behind each piece, and how that changed and progressed over the course of his life.

My favourite piece is pictured below, Les Mots et Les Images, a piece entitled Words and Images that was published in La Révolution Surréaliste in December 1927. It explores the philosophical relationship between words, images, and reality. The idea of words and what they represent is of high interest to me.
We walked to the Musée des Instruments de Musique, a beautiful art nouveau building that has a restaurant on the top floor with a great view of Brussels. We stopped for a quick coffee and some pictures.

We continued on a long walk through the center of Brussels.

I took a picture of dumb tourists taking pictures of Le Mannequin Pis with a Dopey figure (from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs).

And then we went to La Grande Place:

Yves took me to La Becasse, a bar that’s been open for over 100 years. We sat down in the cozy space and shared a Lambic Doux, the specialty of the house. It was light, not strongly carbonated, and slightly sweet. Very refreshing!
20141023_155558Yves told me about the tattoos on his forearms: one is the date of the execution of Che Guevara; the other is his birthday, written in the style of the ID numbers given to Jews by the Nazis in World War II. I didn’t know this, but one of his parents (his father I believe) is Jewish, and the family fled to the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), where he was born.

We walked through Galeries Royales Saint. The light inside was so beautiful!

Back at Severine’s house, I helped her husband Geraud prepare dinnerr, pasta ala Bolognese, and a big salad!

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Today was an early morning. I rose at 5am and took the bus to the airport. I pretty much sleep-walked my way there, grabbing a coffee along the way. I slept the entire flight, unconscious for both the take-off and landing. I had only 3 hours of sleep after all. Yves, my mom’s cousin’s husband (I’ll call him uncle from now-on), picked me up from the airport and took me to the apartment he shares with his wife and youngest son. It was a lovely reunion, so nice to see family I hadn’t seen in years! I snapped this picture of the view outside their window, and took a long nap on the couch. 20141022_114027

When I awoke, my cousin David was there! He took me to a place that makes mittroyettes, a notoriously huge sandwich that has fries inside! I remembered having one the last time I was in Brussels, in 2001. I only managed to eat about half of it.


Yves took me over to Severine’s house (his daughter, my cousin) where I’m staying. They have several of Yves’ paintings on display, and it was so fun to see his work. Here’s Yves in front of one of his paintings. When I first snapped the picture, he had a stoic look on his face. I joked that he had the steely look typical of artists, and that made him laugh!

I helped Severine prepare dinner: frisée salad with tomatoes, cucumber, green onion, bacon, apples sautéed in butter, and toasted goat cheese. Served with freshly made balsamic vinaigrette, and a drizzle of Corsica honey!
Severine et Geraud call each other and their children “mon coeur,” (my heart), which I find so romantic. It warms me to hear them say it, and reminds me of this Dashboard Confessional song Joel and I used to still geek out over. But here it’s so much sweeter, seeing them together with their family.

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