Posted in Photo challenge

CB&W: Houses

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Beautiful old houses in Mechelen, Belgium.

CB&W

Posted in Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

170910Blikvanger

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Posted in Photo challenge

Travel theme: Gardens

An enchanted garden in Brugge, Belgium. Can you see the fairies? Will they show themselves to you? ūüôā

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Ailsa

   

   < Visit Ailsa’s Travel Theme Challenge. 

Posted in Animals, Culture/History, Photo, Photo challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming…

~ click the photo for a larger image ~

of a slower pace

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Go here for more WordPress Dreaming photos.

Posted in Border hopping, News

Too Many Angels

Belgium and Holland are in mourning.

Tuesday evening a Belgian bus crashed in a Swiss tunnel. Twenty eight people died; twenty two of them were children. Another twenty four kids are injured. The group (Belgian and Dutch nationalities) was returning from a skiing holiday in le Val d’ Anniviers. Both drivers have lost their lives too.

The bus has somehow brushed against the tunnel wall, after which the driver lost control completely and the vehicle crashed head-on against the concrete wall. The pictures of the wreck are gruesome, I won’t show them.

Last year, my youngest son went to Italy with his school, also by bus. And worries about his safety troubled me greatly. Still you have to let go and trust all will be well. My son returned safely, but these poor families will be waiting forever for the return of their child. My thoughts go out to the parents and siblings, family, school and friends. So very sad. So horrible.

They left happy and excited about their ski trip and had wonderful stories to tell. But their voices are lost now. How many words are left unsaid. How many hugs will never be given.

There are too many angels who should still walk the earth. And not enough wings to fill the void.

You will be missed.

Photo © AFP / Georges Gobet
Posted in Art, Border hopping, Culture/History, Music, Photo

Brussels? Yes! Yes? No!

Weird title huh? It describes last weekend perfectly though. You see, we went to Brussels in Belgium to see Yes. At least, that was the plan.

Months earlier, Vman asked me if I would like to go to a Yes concert with him. He’s been following this band throughout the years and was practically jumping for joy over this unique possibility. Of course I said yes. I would go anywhere with my partner. ‘You know what,’ he said, ‘let’s turn this into a whole weekend, just the two of us.’ My answer to that was ‘YES!’

So at 10 am we were cruising the Dutch highways, heading for Belgium. The weather was sunny, the mood was light and the music was Yes. After we battled our way through the maze of the streets of Brussels, we drove straight into the first parking garage in sight. In the centre! Near our hotel! Perfect, simply perfect.

The first thing I did was buy a hat at a small market. A black fake fur hat to go with my black teddy-bear coat. (See the picture on the right.) Have been searching all over town last year to find one, and here it was, waiting for me. The saleswoman had made it herself. And when I pointed at some loose ends, she immediately grabbed her sewing kit and started mending it. Plus she gave me a two euro discount, for tea. I was thrilled.

 

Vman and I had tea on a sunny terrace, and then strolled through the beautiful bilingual – Dutch and French –¬†city of Brussels before going to the hotel to check in. And what a hotel it was: Hotel Mozart Grand’Place. Classical music filled the¬†entr√©e, and I think my mouth was agape while I looked around. Quelle surprise!

      

By that time, our stomachs were growling. We had been ignoring the tantalizing odours of Brussels Waffles, covered in cream, chocolate and strawberries for far too long. My god, they were tempting! But we passed them and entered a restaurant in stead. A chic madame took us to our table. No, we didn’t have reservations. Did I imagine it, or were all eyes on us? Nah. She handed us the menu and I carefully read it. Four times. There was not a single dish that appealed to me. ‘What will you have?’ my man asked me. ‘Nothing from this list!’ I said and then turned to the lady who was waiting for us to make a choice.

Excuse me, is this the lunch card?

Lunch? LUNCH? We do not serve lunch today! Nor on Sunday. This is the weekend! We only have lunch during weekdays, naturellement.

She seemed a little outraged at my question. At least now I was certain all eyes were upon us. ‘Let’s get out of here,’ I mumbled and put on my coat, making excuses for the inconvenience. Once outside we laughed out loud. No horse could drag me back to that place! Well, perhaps if it was a horse like this, it could:

 

We left the matron to her outrage and dived into another little restaurant ‘Chez Patrick’, for a heavenly cheese omelet with French fries and salad.

Let me show you a bit of Brussels art:

      

By late afternoon I started feeling very tired, my legs weighed a hundred pounds. Vman took me back to the hotel – as usual I was lost – where we watched a bit of TV and rested. Somewhat later we set out for dinner again. In Brussels a lot of different cultures are united, and we could chose any cuisine we wanted: Indian, Italian, Turkish, Greek, French, you name it. We ended up in a little bistro, where almost every customer was eating clams. And depositing the empty shells in a black top hat! Fun to watch.

 

By the time we got back to Hotel Mozart again, I was dead on my feet and I fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow. I was restless during the night though, waking up often and not feeling well. After breakfast we returned to our room so I could rest as long as possible. And I hoped the two pain killers I took were actively killing germs by then. There was a Columbo movie on TV. It had been ages since I last saw Peter Falk. Too soon it was 11 am and we had to check out, missing the end of Columbo grrr.

Brussels was waiting for us already and we strolled through its streets, while my heart was hammering against my ribs and my brow was covered in a thin sheet of sweat. Boy oh boy, did I feel miserable. Stopping every now and then to catch my breath enjoy the scenery, I put on a brave show to reassure my love, but he was not fooled.

Are you alright?

Sure, you know I’m made of steel!

Should we go home?

Of course not silly, tonight we are going to see Yes!

Hmmm…

He left it at that and took me to a lunch restaurant where we were the only customers. As instructed and encouraged by my through text message alerted sister, I asked for fresh orange juice with extra lemon. And though it was not on the menu, the owner took pity after seeing my feverish face and promised to make me a special healthy drink. Which he did. It was heavenly. The vitamins coursed through my body and battled valiantly. We had bread rolls with hot tuna salad (to burn away any remaining bacteria) and chicken Hawaii.

Enough energy to shoot some buildings:

It was 2 pm and the Yes concert started at 8. A concert where I had to stand in stead of sit. A thing that had slipped my mind. Normally I would already have huge problems with standing for a couple of hours because of my back, but in this condition? My courage was melting away with every passing minute. ‘Hey, let’s go see a movie to pass the time?’ My partner thought that was an excellent idea, so we walked towards the cinema we had noticed the day before. The French titles were not that encouraging and the films we wanted to see did not start until late.

In a slight panic I walked out into the street again. How on earth could I stay upright until the evening? And through the concert? All I wanted was to lie down and close my eyes. By that time my head was throbbing, my throat ditto, I had a fever and all muscles were hurting. Even combing my hair sent shivers of pain through my body. Ah, a bench in the sun! Grateful I fell down, gazing up at this little statue.

The energy these playful kids emanated, was bliss. While I had none. Vman wrapped his arm around me and held me close. A man came staggering past, coughing his lungs out, a cigarette in his hand. He tried to balance himself but failed and toppled slowly backwards. Two men nearby (you can see one of them in the picture) jumped up and helped the fallen man back to his feet. And you know what? The first thing he did was pick up his cigarette and light it. Amazing destructive behaviour. And then I realized I would be the next to topple over if I was not honest with my partner. I had the Brussels flu.

Vman?

Yes?

I don’t think I can make it through the concert…

My voice trailed away. I felt so very guilty, but felt even sicker. One look at my face made him get up, take my hand and lead me back towards the car.

I’m so sorry, so very sorry. The tickets must have cost you a fortune. And your expectations…

Shush, we are going home!

I shushed, relief giving me the extra energy needed to get me to the parking garage. Finally I could rest my poor head and close my eyes. The Garmin system was leading us from the centre to the outskirts of Brussels, straight into a traffic jam. I opened my eyes and then blinked, twice. Huh?

Love?

Yes?

There’s a girl in a bikini standing in the doorway?

*big grin*

Delirious, that’s it. I must be delirious! A couple of meters further, there was another scantily clad beauty. Right. No delusion after all. The Garmin system had taken us to a Red Light District! And all male car drivers were more absorbed in staring than in driving. Endless legs. Smiling faces. Long blond hair. Attractive bodies. At once I felt even more sick. Sick, grey and unattractive. I closed my eyes again, totally exhausted.

Posted in Music

Music: Joe Bonamassa

It all started with this ticket:

Ah no, let me begin again! It all started when Vman discovered Joe Bonamassa’s music… and was immediately enchanted by it, bewitched even. Joe must have empowered that guitar of his with some pretty heavy binding spells! ūüėČ After trying to lay his hands on tickets for over a year, my partner finally managed to purchase two: we were expected in Antwerp (Belgium) on Wednesday May 4th.

After a quick dinner I picked up my man at the railway station and drove my little car south-west over the highway. It felt like entering another country. Well of course it IS another country, but living this close to the border for all my life, it feels like home. The language Flemish sounds only a bit different from Dutch. Antwerp is a beautiful city with one of the biggest seaports of Europe.

A bit of¬†involuntary¬†sightseeing took us ‘straight’ to the right area, where we parked in a garage. The weather was gentle, the crowd¬†inter-cultural, restaurants and terraces in abundancy. A holiday mood came upon us immediately: Antwerp is alive. We also took a peek at Antwerp’s unique train station, where I shot this photo.

We had a drink in the sun and watched a set of peculiar street fountains, hoping that the water would surprise an unsuspecting passer-by. We weren’t THAT lucky though ūüėȬ†Then we strolled – keeping a wary eye on the fountains – to the place to be, where a large crowd already gathered.

The Queen Elisabeth Music Hall had plush chairs and soon we were comfortable seated, awaiting mister Joe Bonamassa. Joe showed up at exactly 8.15 PM, dressed in a light gray suit, black shirt and a white tie! His first tie-time ever on stage, he told us. Plus his shoes’ soles were too slippery. Like his sun glasses, that kept sliding off his nose. He came on stage with a guitar and immediately put it to work.

What followed next was superb. Really truly amazing. This thirty three year old guitar virtuoso has warp speed fingers, an easy way of playing and a good voice, combining these three aspects into music that resounds straight in heart and soul. He played blues, rock, ballads, used up to ten different guitars and gave us his best for two and a half hour non stop. The three other band members took a break every now and then, but Joe stayed put. And with an acoustic guitar solo he stole my heart. Also my breath. I was drumming my hands and feet almost the whole time, the rhythm compelling and strong. He inspired the whole crowd into several standing ovations.

 

Here is YouTube live performance of Joe featuring Eric Clapton:

Since Bonamassa is tiny in last night’s pictures, I took the liberty of searching for him on the internet. Nice chap!

Too soon the concert was over and the two of us walked back to the car, hand-in-hand. Another highway-sight-seeing-trip in the wrong direction couldn’t get us down and Vman drove us home safely, arriving around midnight.

Mister Joe Bonamassa, you get a 9.0 for your performance last night. I have enjoyed every minute of your musical spells. My boyfriend is right, you are one of the best.

~Mar