A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


As much as I love the Atomium, that's how much I scoff at its next-door neighbor in Brussels's Bruparck: Mini-Europe. A collection of scale models of European destinations, Mini-Europe reminds me of nothing so much as a huge, elaborate mini-golf course. Self-described as "a whistlestop tour around Europe" and a "must-see," the park features 300 models, some supposedly interactive. Make Mt. Vesuvius erupt, knock down the Berlin Wall, and so on.

I suppose it was inevitable that I eventually would end up inside Mini-Europe, instead of scoffing at it from the top of the Atomium. Today was my lucky day to do it. For € 12,20 (around $16), after struggling past an immense tide of conventioneering Scouts and a couple of obnoxiously persistent costumed photographers, I was in.

It was as corny as I'd imagined, but also arresting in a weird way. Much more extensive than I'd thought. A few interesting factoids on the plaques accompanying each display. And a cumulative appreciation of Europe as a mega-nation by the time I was through winding my way through the entire park.

The "interactive" displays were pretty pathetic. Mt. Vesuvius was broken, I never found the Berlin Wall, and the "Spirit of Europe" exhibit at the end, with its circuit-board multiple-choice quizzes, was outdated and lame. The food in the little restaurant was awful and the service worse. Scouts were still swarming the metro and the streets of downtown Brussels on the return.

But anyway. I came, I saw. I blogged. I got Mini-Europe out of my system once and for all.

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