Maurice Greene, King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels

The World’s Fastest Hands

From my track & field reporting career scrapbook comes this tribute, found just outside the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, to some of the fastest hands in history. Above is a cast of the 2000 Olympic 100 meters champion Maurice Greene. Yes, it is misspelled.

Brussels has hosted the Memorial Van Damme annually since 1977, one of the finest annual gatherings of track and field talent in the world. I’ve attended 11 of the past 13, most recently in 2012 where the highlight was Aries Merritt’s world record in the 110 meter hurdles.

But unless they were added prior to last September’s meet, you won’t find Merritt’s hand on the promenade, but you will walk across those of 2004 Olympic 100 meters champion Justin Gatlin, the world record holder in the women’s pole vault  Yelena Isinbayeva, and Hicham El Guerrouj, the finest miler in history.

Located in the Belgian capital’s northwest Heysel area which also hosted the 1958 World’s Fair, the stadium was the site of the infamous Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 in which 39 people were killed and 600 injured when a wall collapsed just prior to the start of that year’s European Cup final.

It’s also the only venue where I saw the Village People perform live. But that’s another story.

So, do you recognize any of these hands?

Recuerdo Profundo by Jimenez Deredia

Circles, in the Round

Recuerdo Profundo by Jimenez Deredia

In her travel theme this week, Ailsa asked for circles. Who am I to say no?

I threw in a few orbs and spheres, too, beginning with Jimenez Deredia’s phenomenal chocolatey sculpture, Recuerdo Profundo, which I was fortunate enough to see near the Colosseum in Rome in July 2009. A few more snaps from that exhibit are on my flickr stream here.

Istanbul, March 2012

This one I found near the Galata Bridge in Istanbul. What’s not to love about this version of the Crescent Star?

Musee Olympique, Lausanne, 31-Aug-2008

There are lots of circles to be found at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne that have nothing to do with the five rings. Above is the view up from the library level.

Sticking with the Olympic theme, this is a bit of graffiti decorating some shrapnel damage to a wall of the 1984 Olympic bobsled run on Trebević Mountain just outside of Sarajevo. The hour or so I spent there, strolling down the destroyed and graffiti-covered run with just the sounds of forest birds and bugs as a soundtrack, remains the most surreal I’ve experienced in recent memory. There’s a high-speed video –and a few more pics– of that stroll here.

1984 Olympic Bobsled run, Trebević Mountain, near Sarajevo.

Vietnamese People’s Air Force Museum Hanoi, 27-Oct-2010

This is at the Vietnamese People’s Air Force Museum, or Bảo Tàng Phòng Không – Không Quân, in Hanoi. How many of these countries still exist? Below, a ‘Do Not Enter’ variation, seen in Paris.

Fun with road signs. Paris, April 2012

Istanbul, 14-Mar-2012

Above, Istanbul again, fresh catch caught from the Galata Bridge. Below was taken in London this past August, just before I watched this guy getting man-handled by private cops.

London, Aug 2012

Shanghai, May 201

This is a 10-second exposure taken inside the Bund Tourist Tunnel that runs under the Huangpu River in Shanghai. It’s hideously tacky but a fun place to take long-exposures. There are four more here.

Dicobole Lancant le Disque, by Mathieu Kessels

We return briefly to the Olympic theme with Mathieu Kessels’ Discus Thrower at the Royal Museum of Art in Brussels and conclude in Shanghai with these orbs that you’ll see when you exit the hideously tacky Bund Tourist Tunnel. Full circle.

Shanghai, May 2010

Now, go check out more circles, spheres and orbs at Ailsa’s Weekly Challenge here.

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Brussels 067

Brussels 11 – an Exercise in Speed

Start to finish, this post was an exercise in speed, largely with my upcoming RTW trip* in mind. The working plan will be to try and post something daily, which I know will oftentimes mean a very quick turnaround. Right now my computer is stuffed to the gills with gigabytes of photos and video from the spring and summer months to sort through and organize. So, to kill two birds with one stone, I decided a little practice in speed was in order that would also help de-clutter my hard drive.

These were part of a batch of 50 or so shots I snapped during an hour-long early afternoon stroll in Brussels in early September. I gave myself 30 minutes in all to first whittle those down to 11, do some very quick post-processing and publish this post. The only ‘theme’ I was trying to stick to was to include photos that weren’t typically Brussels-esque. I even included a self-portrait with latex chaps.

Why 11? Because this experiment called for more than 10, and less than a dozen. ;)

* departure in 96 days

I’ve visited the Belgian capital regularly for most of the past decade. For more pics check out my Brussels set on Flickr.

September Pic(k)s

This woman was marching in a procession near the Grand Place in Brussels and kindly stopped to pose for a few quick snaps. About two dozen camera-toting Japanese tourists –and me– rapidly descended.

In spite of the somewhat absurd commotion, it was one of my personal faves shot in September, when the busy summer season finally wound down. My meticulously selected dandy dozen for the month, shot in Brussels, Ljubljana, and Thessaloniki, Athens and on Paros, Greece, are here.

Previous pic(k)s of the month: [Aug 09] [Jul 09] [Jun 09] [May 09] [Apr 09] [Mar 09] [Feb 09] [Jan 09] [2008]

Brussels 027, originally uploaded by pirano.

Musee du Slip opens in Brussels

This new underpants museum, which opened its doors last month, will surely be atop this guy’s list of places to visit when his troubles in Germany are behind him.

Via WorldHum:

Belgian artist Jan Bucquoy has just opened the “Musee du Slip” (..) which features framed underwear (..) donated mostly by Belgian artists, singers and politicians, and represents a Utopian longing for an equal society: “If you are scared of someone, just imagine them in their underpants.”

He’s planning to take the exhibit on the road to Paris where he hopes the collection will include items acquired from Carla Bruni among others.

Here’s an interview with Bucquoy, in French, explaining the concept, and a Reuters story where he proclaims, “If I had portrayed Hitler in his underpants there would not have been a war.”

Brussels 05, originally uploaded by pirano.

September Pic(k)s

These are the steps leading to the Church of St. Anthony of Padua at the Italian Soldiers Ossuary in Kobarid, Slovenia, which houses the remains of soldiers who were killed in the infamous Battles of Caporetto, one of my personal faves shot in September. There are about a dozen more faves here, shot in Brussels, Lyon, Motovun, Croatia, Stuttgart, and Ljubljana.

Previous pic(k)s of the month: [Aug 08] [July 08] [June 08] [May 08] [March 08] [February 08] [January 08]

Kobarid 03, originally uploaded by pirano.

September pic(k)s

September was brutal. Between the 1st and 26th I spent just four nights at home while bopping between eight countries across seven time zones. I’m still recovering. And I also took nearly a 1000 pictures.

This one, of a woman enjoying a smoke break from the tedium of her job, was taken in Zurich, and I remember being really pissed off when the car went by. So the result was quite a pleasant surprise. The rest of my personal faves shot during the month are here.

Previous personal pick pics – [August] [July] [June] [May] [April] [March] [February] [January]

Radium theatre (Zurich 04), originally uploaded by pirano.

30 Second Cheap Hotel Advisor – Brussels

Avenue de Stalingrad 7

Stayed 3 nights, 12-13-14-Sep 2007

As you can see, it’s fairly utilitarian; some would say cozy. My room was tiny, and its lone window opened up to an unfortunate view of a walled in stairway. Breakfast was basic but OK; big pluses were free wi-fi in the quaint lobby, its decent central location, and nearby tram stations. A pair of friendly neighborhood pubs/cafes across the street. For 68 EUR/night, you can probably do better in Brussels with enough advance searching.

Over all, just OK. I shall (maybe) return.

[A variety of booking links]

aristote-brussels, originally uploaded by pirano.

Looking for an affordable apartment in Europe? Don’t read this.

buildmore.jpgMonaco and London top the list as Europe’s most expensive cities for those in the market for residential property, according to a survey conducted by The Global Property Guide, a residential real estate research organization.

2006-08-20-monaco02.jpgSpace is at a premium in the tiny principality on the Riviera, and it’ll set you back about €24,900 per sq/m, or just under €3 million for a 120 sq/m sized apartment. (Americans: multiply that by 1.295401.)  By comparison, locations described as ‘prime’ in the British capital are a bargain at just €14,522 sq/m, or €1.74 million for the same sized flat.

Paris, Amsterdam and Vaduz are next on the list, with Moscow sitting in the No. 6 spot, with the going rate of €6,266 per sq/m.

The survey notes how quickly prices have soared in the Baltic states, where a high-end flat in central Vilnius, Lithuania comes in at €3,792 per sq/m (€455,000 for 120 sq/m), while the rate in Riga, Latvia is €3,020 per sq/m, or €362,400 for a similar sized pad.

Here in Ljubljana? It’s No. 26 on the list, weighing in at 2,467 sq/m, or just under €300,000 for a 120 sq/m place, just behind Lisbon, but more expensive on average than flats in Istanbul, Tallinn, Prague, Brussels, Athens and Warsaw.

Grandma’s house in the hills is sounding better and better all the time.