Saturday, October 25, 2008

STUK in Leuven

Well, not really, but I couldn't resist making the joke since STUK (pronounced stook, with a long o) is the name of the venue where they are performing the concerts at the TRANSIT festival, and after I went to one with Steve this morning, the name fit. It was an hour and a half of a man on midi keyboard, a woman on viola, and a vocalist doing music made up of just different tones, no lyrics, no changes per se, just tones, tones, and more tones. Even Steve said it got a bit long after a while. I plan on going to more concerts with him, but that one was enough for a little while, so afterwards we went to explore around Leuven.While we were at the morning concert the director told us about an area near where we were that was called Groot Begijnhof, and is a group of houses where approximately 300 'Begijns' lived in the 17th century. 'Begijns' were women who lived a religious life but kept their own property and supported themselves and didn't make vows like nuns living in a convent. They have turned the community into a faculty and student housing section for the University here, and it is really beautiful, and like Bruges, seemingly untouched by time. Here's some photos:

Steve walking down one of the winding, narrow streets in the Goot Begijnhof. There are no cars in this community, so it is almost silent there. You can see why it would be a perfect place for a group of religious people who wanted to create a sanctuary.

An ornate double water pump in the center square of the community.

One of the historic houses. There were colorful fall leaves everywhere.

After our walk, we went to lunch and then Steve had to take off to go to a rehearsal. I decided to take in the shopping streets that were just a few blocks from the hotel. This is definitely one of my favorite parts about Europe, the pedestrian shopping areas and how everyone walks and bikes. Life in the States is great in some ways, but the Saturday shopping market is definitely a way that Europe has us beat, hands down.

Buildings off the Market Square in Leuven. The ornate Gothic building is the Town Hall. Can you imagine this being the backdrop to your Saturday grocery shopping?

In the middle of the square was one of the most awe-inspiring cathedrals I have ever seen. Just there, in the middle of town. If you don't like this one, not to worry, there are eight others within walking distance. Being from the US, especially the western US, you never get tired of this.

And then there were the market stalls, one after another with baked goods, flowers, seasonal vegetables, and a million other things. I'll miss this.

Steve was able to meet up with me in the Market Square between rehearsals, so we grabbed a waffle and took it all in.

I had these waffles when I visited Belgium before, but this was the best one I've ever had. They were light and fluffy, piping hot, and coated with caramelized sugar. Wish I had the recipe, but I'm pretty sure you have to actually be Belgian to make them this good.