Wednesday, 17 October 2012

In The Morning I'm Making Waffles!

Sometimes it's interesting to see your city through fresh eyes and sometimes it's just downright depressing. My friend Ian's boyfriend David recently moved to Hamilton from Brussels, Belgium with a year long stop over in Australia. I was excited to visit a few of the Hammer's top highlights with him. Although he was enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy himself I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed as I saw Hamilton through the eyes of an outsider.

Ian and I in Brussels, Belgium last year.

I visited Belgium last year and like most places in Europe it is chalk full of ancient, grand structures and amazing art, not just in galleries but EVERYWHERE! I guess it is just hard for me to imagine why anybody would want to give all of that up for our city with it's only 166 years of existence. He came for love and I hope that he can come to love Hamilton just as it's inhabitants do. We love her for her greatness and for her faults.

We started our little tour of Hamilton with a fruit platter breakfast on top of the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Surprisingly this is a place I had never visited before and our new resident was quick to school me on its origin. Apparently it is called Commonwealth Square and was dedicated in 1987. I thought it was funny that he took the time to read signs that I had never really noticed before.

Plaque dedicated to the Hamiltonians that helped put on the first British Empire Games.

After breakfast we went to go to Whitehern but they were not open yet so we just admired the garden and then headed to the AGH. We will return another day! On the way there he wanted to go see the family courthouse. In Brussels the Palais de Justice is a huge tourist scene so I guess he thought it would be the same here. Once we got through security we quickly realized that this is not somewhere to just go look around. We felt kind of awkward so we just took a quick peek before swiftly departing. Although it is one of the older buildings in Hamilton having opened in 1890 it really was not quite as awe striking as the courthouse in Brussels.

Hamilton's Superior Court of Justice. Formerly the Hamilton Public Library.
Brussels Palais de Justice. BIG!
The marble staircase in the courthouse. Insane.

After escaping family court we ventured on to the AGH and this is where Hamilton really started to not measure up. I really like the Hamilton Art Gallery but I have been to museums and galleries in Europe and well...we ain't got no Monet :P I love that they really celebrate local and national talent but being in that museum with a true European was almost embarrassing. He, of course was really gracious but he did say that it was a strange museum and the set up was completely random, but he also said that he enjoyed GOOOO AGH!!

Kim Adams' Bruegel-Bosch Bus. One of the biggest draws at the AGH.
Museum of the arts in Brussels...ya.
Street art in Brussels. Stuff like this is EVERYWHERE!

We decided that Hess Village is probably the most European-like area of Hamilton and so we went and wandered around there for a little while but it was during the day and so it was hard to show him what it would be like on a bar hopping night. Nonetheless he said it was a pretty area.


By then we were famished and decided to go for lunch. Ian and David both lived in Korea for a little while and so they talked me into going for Korean. We went to Cho Sun Ok Korean BBQ on King Street East and it was amazing! Watching them speak Korean with the server made me feel a little bit dumb but it was definitely entertaining.

Such a neat, yummy little restaurant.

I had such a fun time watching David explore some of steeltown for the first time, and although at times I may have felt embarrassed, by the end of the day I came to the realization that even though we are not as old as Europe and we don't have art by the legends, what we lack in those areas we make up for ten fold in culture.

Where else could you visit a heritage building, an art gallery, an entire village dedicated to food and alcohol as well as a total melting pot of delicious cultural cuisines all within a few blocks of each other? No where! Hamilton can be great. You just have to know where to look and what to look for. I look forward to seeing David find his place in Hamilton. Once he's settled in I'm sure he will grow to love it as much as he loved Belgium.

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