We arrived in Brussels by car on a Sunday, and left the following day by train for Paris. It was an exciting 24 hours. First, we couldn’t find our hotel — the names of the streets are different from block to block, different on different sides of the street, and the maps bear no relation to reality. When we finally did find the Montgomery, it was a little out of the city center in an area of embassies, and absolutely lovely.
In the short time we had, we decided to look for one of the addresses of Mr. Vanderdonck while he lived in Brussels. We had it from a letter sent to Grandfather Jansen by Jacques Markus, an “international agent” who seems to have acted as a go-between several times in the Jansen-Vanderdonck story. Here’s a copy of the letter, clearly a reply to an inquiry about Alexis Vanderdonck.
Basically, Mr. Markus is saying that Mr. Vanderdonck still lives in Brussels, his address is 59 Rue du Vieux Marche aux Grains — street of the old grain market. He adds, “He was just in my office.” The letter is dated 22 February, 1903.
Rue Du Vieux Marche aux Grains is located in one of the oldest sections of Brussels. We took the subway to the neighborhood and asked at several places until we found the street. Unremarkable, yet very nice.
Impossible to say whether this is the same building or a rehab or a new building on the same lot. Across the street, a building that’s much older with characteristic crow-step gables.
From the old Vanderonck haunts we thought we’d look up the offices of Jacques Markus, but it was too far and we were too tired. I’ve since learned it’s in the heart of the red light district, so just as well we didn’t go.
Instead, we decided to walk as far as possible back to our hotel. Our route took us through the lower (older) city, with its impossibly gilded guild halls surrounding old squares.
When we walked up to the upper city, we could look back over gardens and the old town.
Back to our neighborhood, and the Leopold Gate, and so to bed.