February 28, 2011

Connecting Belgium to the World

Religious statues

Witnesses of its catholic history, every little town has a church in its center. Outside the church are very often statues to protect town and inhabitants.   These statues are typical of those found in northeastern Brabant towns. 

February 26, 2011

Modepaleis and Cathedral

Seen from the junction of the Nationalestraat and the Kammenstraat, the Antwerp Cathedral and het Modepaleis - literally “Palace of Fashion” - give this part of the city a special ambience, even on a dreary rainy winter evening. 
Both are landmarks on the tourist trail and striking reminders of Antwerp’s glorious past and its present renown as a fashion mecca.

February 25, 2011

Santa Maria Novella

A true delight for the senses is Santa Maria Novella in Antwerp.  The young Italian man who runs the place moved to Antwerp 8 years ago to study at the Fashion Academy. He explains that the story of his store goes way back. The ‘casa madre’ in Firenze, as he calls it, was originally a pharmacy founded by Dominican friars shortly after 1221, the year of their arrival in Florence. The pharmacy used medicinal herbs grown in the monastic gardens to make medications, balms and pomades for the monks' infirmary. It was in full operation as a commercial establishment by the mid 16th century.  It is said that the products are still manufactured based on the centuries-old techniques used by the Dominican friars.  The shop exudes elegance and good taste. The visitor comes out smelling like clover, sandalwood, citrus, bergamot or as their favorite soap, pomegranate.

Santa Maria Novella
Augustijnenstraat 39
2000 Antwerp

February 24, 2011

Strings and Things

For drums and guitars, Antwerp is the place: "Strings and Things" has it all.…

Jan Meijers is one of the two owners. He is a bass guitarist, who in the earlier days played with a band named Blueblood. He now plays regularly with different bands that happen to need a bassist

“Looking for the authentic drumsound of the roaring 20ies, golden 60ies, psychedelic 70ies, hardrocking 80ies or pumping 90ies ? We have it..”

February 23, 2011

Cecile, aspiring accountant

Cecile, waiting at 5 pm on the street corner for her kid to get out of school, would agree for her picture to be taken provided that only her hairdo would show.
I took 5 pictures and showed them to her directly on my camera.
She made me delete 2 of them in her presence and wanted to watch the deleting process.

Here is what I was able to keep           
Cecile is from Rwanda and will graduate from accountancy school in June.

February 22, 2011

Tunnel, trees, trunk

A true jewel and somewhat of a hidden treasure, not very far from downtown Brussels.
The pedestrian tunnel connects the Solvay Park (named after Ernest Solvay   en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Er#3CD9C3) to the magnificent Forêt de Soignies with its century old trees.
The castle is hidden behind huge beech trees.
A sign near the cut trees reads “zone de protection”, “beschermde zone”, a reference to careful nature preservation policy. 

February 21, 2011


Raja and Kaur, car washers from India

Raja left  his country a little over a year ago and works in a successful “hand car wash” in a small Belgian village.  While he and fellow Indians wash the cars, his mother Kaur waits next door to collect the payment.
They have learned enough of the local language to deal with customers. One wonders what brought them to this tiny town and  what they think of life here.  Both say they came to Belgium for business and that it is  business which keeps them here.

February 19, 2011

Sofi and Joanna, seamstress

A few years ago, Sofi opened a seamstress boutique, "Cocinelle' inBrussels. If you are busy or simply do not know how to sew, Sofi will always be able help you out. She can handle anything, from simple to very sophisticated and the most delicate things are safe in her hands.
Sofi is of  Polish origin and many things in the shop come from Poland, handbags, earrings. 
Sofi has 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren. Her daughter Joanna helps out from time to time.

Cocinelle, rue Joseph Stallaert, Uccle (Brussels)

February 18, 2011

Mark and Johan, Academy students

Mark is reflecting on how to tackle
        his personal interpretation of a bird's nest. 

Johan poses with self-portrait.

The students of the painting and drawing department of the Art Academy of Anderlecht work in large spacious rooms filled with light and energy.

February 17, 2011


Typical cafés

February 16, 2011

Mini Flux

A few motivated youngsters have found a way to make Belgian weather more enjoyable. They sell their unique “parapluies de bonheur” or good luck umbrella’s in all colors and sizes with titles of songs or whatever wording their customers might like.
facebook: mini flux



Showing the result of Belgian creativity.
Two young men recently created a company named Shadapp.  
Their very first apple application, the "Trash Toeter",
is available on line.
More on http://shadapp.be/

Blue and Yellow

 As the “B” on the vest is the same as the one on the train in the second picture (you have to look for it!), it is reasonable to conclude that these two men work for the Belgian railroad and not for Ikea as the colors might suggest.

February 15, 2011

Updating city maps

Surveyors measuring and taking pictures of new sidewalks with posts to prevent irregular parking, one of many national sports.  
On the basis of their result maps will be updated. 

February 14, 2011

February 14

Belgium being the home to the chocolate capital of the world, territorial integrity requires me to disclose that this pair of lovers was shot yesterday in Paris on Saint-Germain-des-Prés, not far from the Odéon.

February 13, 2011


Brussels,  Sunday morning

February 12, 2011


End of the sales season at Place Stephanie in Brussels

February 11, 2011

Pith helmet

A pith helmet worn with sunglasses is not exactly what one would expect on a rainy day in February in a covered shopping gallery in Brussels! Yet, he seemed the right man in the right place. No one even thought it was out of context.

Do not touch!

This car unequivocally shows where it stands in the current long and intricate political  crisis. 
The tag next to the license plate translates as  “Do not touch my country!“.

February 10, 2011

Anne from Burgundy

When I asked Anne if I could take her picture, she surprisingly and spontaneously answered: “ Yes, but I am not Belgian” as if she had guessed that her picture was to appear on Belgiumswings!
I deducted from her Hermès scarf and Longchamp bag that she came from France and indeed she confirmed that she was from Burgundy. 

February 09, 2011


An assignment for the Academy took me on a trip to Ghent to photograph twins. Shown here are Jan and Paul, looking studious. Both are excellent musicians - Paul plays the cello and guitar, and Jan the saxophone


At the arrivals of Brussels airport this Wednesday morning, discussion about what might have been left behind on the plane, about lost property,.....

February 08, 2011

Clean streets

 Jean and Bouzou keeping the streets clean.

Bouzou left Tunisia for Belgium in 1989. 
He worked first as a cook. After a while he left that job and opted for his present one which allows him to work regular hours. 
He is a dad of four.  
With pride he points at the state of the streets under his responsibility.

February 07, 2011


Two attentive street scene observers

Central Sation Antwerp

Gorgeously renovated train station.

Waffles and hot dogs

Waffles for sale at hot dog stand, Central Sation, Antwerp