Friday, November 14, 2008

Back to Belgium

Just so happens we were headed there on Tuesday Nov. 11th, which is a national holiday for the Belgians.
Even so, this trip had been planned a while back and we were headed there with the Plant Manager from Hengelo and the new General Manager was coming over from the UK, so even though all the worker bees were at home, they met with the Manager of this facility for the afternoon.

Left Hengelo at around 10:30 I would say, stopped for a bite to eat along the way and ended up rolling in to Vorst just after 2:00 p.m.

I checked in at the hotel after dropping them off in Vorst, and was surprised that I could find parking on the street.
Well , that was only because of the whole holiday thing, and after that it was a real challenge let me tell ya.
That was enough to kill some time before going back at five to fetch them and run John (the Plant Manager) up to the airport. I guess he thought he'd take a cab, but that would have been completely unnecessary, since the company is already paying for the car and fuel, and the gps had no problems getting us there. He had some time at the airport to get a bite to eat, since his flight to Vienna wasn't until around 8:00 or so.
Since I had enquired about some sort of parking arrangement, when Gabe and I got back from the airport, we figured we'd use the underground parking.

I want to refer to Jack Benny's vault, and for some of you that might not be that significant, but many years ago, Jack Benny had a radio show, and to get into his vault involved all these sounds of big doors opening and closing, along with a few well placed booby traps. There's more here and here.

Suffice to say parking the car involved following some convoluted instructions on what button to push, which elevator to take and such. It wasn't part of the hotel, but an underground garage next door. We were down four levels (!)
The actual spaces were bigger than at the Best Western, thankfully. But that didn't mean it was all that roomy.

Not a lot of space wasted on elevators either, as you can see from this...She happened to be fighting to keep the door open, but you can see there's really not a lot of room in there.
The room itself was fine, and didn't have any lingering odors like our previous stay at the Best Western. There was nothing really "best" about that western is all I'll say.
The Wednesday was going to be an all day deal for Gabe at Eaton, so I decided to roam around and see some of the sights. Of course, I had to go to one of my favourite places (in Belgium at least) to look around, since Carrefour is something along the lines of a Walmart with a huge grocery section, only not so cheesy. I did find a couple products there that we don't find around here, including some Belgian chocolate. Went first next door to a place called Brico, which is kind of like a Home Despot, where I picked up another extension cord (longer and cheaper than the one I had to make the other day)
And then it was off to take some pictures.
Couldn't help but see if anyone had cleaned up the mess I saw in August. Turns out it's just another mess.....

So it seems that this particular road on the way into Drogenbos is a bit of a dumping ground, since it's not the same junk that was there before.
A much better quality of picture though, you must admit.

While I realise that we probably do have messy areas around in Canada, I can only hope not in such a built up area. They should have shown them the weeping Indian commercial...
but not for dial up folks
and for those with dial-up, I'll just say it's the one from the 70s where the Native American is weeping over the amount of pollution he sees.
Many of us were quite affected by that piece of propaganda, and I think of it when I see trash on the ground.
Just a warning, there's going to be a whack of pictures, since I sure as heck don't plan on just keeping them stored on the computer.
There was some cool architecture and vistas, but I'll try to pick out the better ones.

These two were in St Gilles, which is part of Brussels, and I thought this next building was really cool, and of course, turns out it's a prison.

Who knew? So there's bars on the windows! Some of the windows in our house have bars, I just figured it was a fashion statement.
I only found out when I went to a nearby bus stop and had a look at the map.
I'm guessing every little area had their own Remembrance Day ceremony, since there were flowers at every cenotaph.
You can see the prison just behind the memorial, and they've placed it so it can all be seen from the mayor's office...
since that building is the Hotel de Ville (city hall) for St Gilles....
I'll have to look it up I guess, but surely the castle wasn't always a prison...but hey, maybe the city officials always wanted to keep an eye on things. Who knows?

Of course, I went to the centre of Brussels itself to check it out, where there's the big one....

Complete with its own unknown soldier underneath.

This is in the same area as the Palais de Justice, (law courts) which is being worked on.

Hence the major scaffolding....

Apparently when Hitler passed this way he was quite impressed with this building and in collaboration with Albert Speer, based several of the monumental buildings of the Nazi era on the design of the court. I'm sure the architect Joseph Poelaert would have been oh so thrilled.

Here's a view from one of the sides btw:

No more comments on history, I promise.

This area overlooks the rest of the city, and I was struck by the proximity of this upper area to that below. It's a sheer drop to the market below, but at least there's an elevator.
and if you look carefully below, you can see a space where a market could be set up. I got myself in there the next morning, and had no clue where I was until I caught sight of the elevator and a sign that said "Palais de Justice.." That was close quarters (in the car!) and I had a heck of a job getting out again.

Crazy thing is, that building right there, turns out to be a school, since sure enough, there are the kids at their desks......

and out on the playground..
...although, there sure as heck wasn't any grass involved.

To deal with the traffic problems, a series of tunnels have been dug under parts of the city, so getting into the city itself by car isn't necessary completely insane, except if it's rush hour, and then it's as bad as any other large urban centre.

Now, on a somewhat lighter note.....if you're thinking of moving to Brussels....and you happen to acquire a fifth floor walk up, you can expect to have your stuff moved in this fashion. I'll let the pictures explain. All I'll say is that, the first time I saw this, I do recall saying, "Holy Cr*p!"

....and while I realise these guys are actually doing some work on the building, the concept is the same.....

Then after you've got yourself all moved in, you can go to the park and get a little more excercise. I have no idea what's going on here......

but this........

is your point of departure.

Topped the tank with diesel before leaving on Thursday afternoon for the 325km trip back to Delden and there was still three quarters of a tank of fuel left, so I'm thinking when the car gets nicely broken in it will really sip fuel.
Probably could have made it there and back on the one tank of fuel, but playing those games has never been that appealing to me.
According to the gps, we were supposed to be home by something like 4:35, but the trip kept getting longer every time we would end up in heavy traffic, so we didn't get to our driveway until something like 5:15.

Next week....Bonn.


  1. Nice car Bob. yes amazing troque out of a 2.0L Diesel eh?
    Press it and I think you will find the torque curve goes flat at about 4500 RPM, but fun getting there.
    Only 210 eh? way faster than you can go elsewhere, and as I think I mentioned before get a straight stretch and sit on it. I think it may creep higher.
    yes carrefour is a great place, and I can tell you feels pretty close to home when you are in one in China and can get western groceries.

  2. Hmmm. Erin didn't say that Mike did. I guess this logged me in as my daughter


Well, I've been getting too many spam comments showing up. Just a drag, so we'll go another route and hope that helps. So, we won't be hearing anything more from Mr. Nony Moose.
I guess I'll just have to do without that Gucci purse.