Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hotel Review: The Dominican, Brussels

As the name and chanting heard throughout the hotel would indicate, the Dominican was once the site of a 15th century abbey. Located just behind the opera house La Monnaie and a short walk from the Grand Palace, this luxury hotel adds contemporary design to its layers of history - and a little cheek with its painting of a monk peeing in the lobby mens restroom. 
A chic lounge makes mingling easy and a fitness center and small sauna make sure you're in fit form, but the simple escape of the room provides the perfect atmosphere for relaxing with a hot bath and clearing the mind. This, along with reliable WiFi - not always a given, sadly - gave me everything I needed to do work during some free time.
After sleeping through my first wake-up call and my alarm, nearly missing my ride to the airport, I discovered that comfort can have its downside. After the fastest shower ever taken and grabbing my already packed bags, I was swiftly out the door, missing out on breakfast and the leaving what had to be one of the best night's sleep behind.

Rue Leopold / Leopoldstraat 9
1000 Brussels 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Armistace Day in Waregem, Flanders Field

It’s small, but no less poignant. The American cemetery for WWI at Flanders Fields in Waregem, Belgium is the final resting place for just over 300 soldiers, far fewer than those in France, but behind every headstone an entire family that had been devastated. And here, in a small corner of Flanders that saw so much senseless bloodshed, it is a sobering reminder of how many have been sacrificed. 

On a chilly November morning we gather for the Armistice Day ceremony. American ex-pats, some former military, and local Boy Scout troops gather as they do each year to show their respect to the fallen. During the 2014-2018 centenary of the Great War, Flanders Field will be the best place to take in stories, reflect on a generation lost, and ponder the pursuit of peace.