I’m likin’ Laeken
Ok. I admit. I have stayed out of Laeken for the most part. It is an integral part of Brussels but I haven’t made my way over there. The crime rate is high. A dude was murdered there a few months ago. But, it is where the residence of the Royal family is located. I had a free morning so I headed over to Laeken with my doors locked. What I found sort of surprised me. It really wasn’t that bad, everyone had been warning me of a terrible place and really…nope.
Each year the Royal Family opens it’s grounds and greenhouses to the general public for a few weeks. You pay a small entry fee and get to tour around. But you are forbidden to walk on the grass. Which is a shame because it is beautiful and HUGE. I am also glad I did not bring the kids because they would have been bored to tears and really upset that they couldn’t run around on the sprawling lawns in front of them.
The greenhouse structures themselves are beautiful. They were designed by Alphonse Balat, who was the teacher of Victor Horta (for those architecture nerds out there). But what I was shocked to find was an underwhelming representation of plant life. Maybe it’s because I lived in Miami in a tropical climate and saw some of the most amazing flora you can imagine on a regular basis, but I found myself completely underwhelmed. The other visitors were walking around amazed and asking themselves, what is this! what is that! and I just sort of shrugged like…ya, I used to have those in my front yard. Yep, those grew next to my bathroom. I’ve lived here long enough that I know have the right to be critical of things and not simply amazed by them. I also found it completely annoying that they didn’t have any of the plants labeled. People want to know what they are. Where they come from. Some fun fact. But alas, there was nothing.
The one impressive thing I found was the height of the Geraniums. That takes a lot of careful planning and tending.
After visiting I had more time so I went over to the Laeken cemetery. It has been on my bucket list of things to do while in Brussels so I am glad to cross it off. The cemetery is most known for the art work adorning many of the grave sites. Pictures are not allowed in the cemetery so I snapped a few on my phone while no one was looking. Sorry Laeken 🙂 Rodan’s first draft of The Thinker. Rodan’s teacher lived in Brussels and Rodan worked here for a few years before relocating. Not bad for his first try in bronze before casting the real one (and housed in Paris at the Rodin Museum).
Overall not a bad trip. I wanted to visit the crypts but they had them closed off for cleaning. I also meant to make it to the Basilica on my way home but ran out of time, I’ll be back over to the north part of Brussels soon.