Croatia and Belgium 2015 travel blog


With our last day at the Eeklo conference yesterday we transferred by tram 1 to Sint- Pieters Gent railway station and then the intercity train to Brussels Centraal where we anticipated a 2 minute walk to our accommodation at the Royal Windsor Hotel which was reported to be around the corner from the Grand Place.

We booked into the hotel and then while heading for the wonderful spectacle of the Grand Place, we were drawn to the music from a brass band that was part of a procession of large size iconic blow up figures including Superman, a smurf and others that we didn't wait to photograph. In between there were other small bands and a wonderful group of flag wavers in single file manipulating their flags in a manner that seemed to be part of Belgian folklore. But there was an air of festivity and provided a great entrance to our overnight stay in the Belgian capital. Of course Brussels is the centre of the EU administration and we deferred our Red bus tour until tomorrow morning to just relax and let MW get her bearings on her first visit to this city.

When we did arrive at the Grand Place, not unexpectedly, there was another Beer Festival and the erection of long white tents surrounded by fencing to contain the drinking fraternity did limit the photographs of this beautiful site. Being a Sunday there were large crowds and buskers of all sorts entertaining the crowd and drawing small coins to their plastic boxes or material hats. I was impressed with a piano accordionist who played utter rubbishy music but he had a rather large dog sitting in front of him, wearing a rather large black hat and a pair of sunglasses with an interesting ceramic frames that had skewed awkwardly across its face. To be frank, the dog did not display any kind of musical ability however his silence clearly balanced the dreadful noise coming from his masters instrument.

But on a more positive note, we did come across a lovely girl who was playing an Oboe with the usual CDs for sale (and I bought for 10 euros). I noticed from the CD cover the mention of 'Gabriel's Oboe' and asked her to play it. It has special significance to me after the death of my wife Marilyn in 2012 and our many visits to Belgium together for our 2 yearly conferences together with her love of classical music. Although the oboist was no match for the cellist yo yo ma of course it brought tears to my eyes just hearing that haunting sound again in this special destination.

We did have time to visit the outlying areas of the inner suburbs where there is evidence of immigration and was a little concerned at groups of young boys congregating in a small street in a menacing manner. Three police cars arrived together in a seemingly routine visit to warn them to keep under control. The adjoining shops and businesses seemed to be people of Middle eastern descent. After buying some strawberries from a local vendor we 'Google mapped' our way back towards the Grand Place.

It was on that route that we came across the 'Manneken Pis' the Pissing Boy statue with water flowing from the statue that MW didn't actually photograph but read instead the meaning behind the statue. All I remember from her brief comments was that it coincided with the introduction of the connection to a centralised local waters supply which, at first, surely places doubt on the purity of the water. I'd better Google it tomorrow rather than raise the topic with her again. By the way, in the interests of gender equality there is also a 'Jeanneke Pis' but I won't go there (literally).

Well we chose to have a quiet night after our final relocation of our trip and in anticipation of our flight home tomorrow afternoon from Brussels airport. Another 23 hours with only a one hour stop over in Helsinki before a 12 hour flight to Singapore. Fortunately there is a 4 hour stop over there so we will have the opportunity to shower and freshen up before we leave for the final leg to Sydney.

It has been an amazing trip and we have accomplished everything that we had ever dreamed of. The conference was a great success and with the unbelievable presentation from my dear colleague Michelle Duval we believe that the use of the iWAM psychometric tool will now be marketed widely given the joint venture and us signing a contractual agreement between her and the supplier job EQ, Belgium. The full details of her mind blowing joint venture will have to wait until the investors have signed their agreement this week.

Although it is with some sadness that we leaven Europe, there is no place like home and family and we both look forward to catching up our respective groups on our return. I am especially looking forward to the visit from Singapore to Sydney of my son Paul and wife Becky who have arranged to visit for a week to see family. And of course there is the reunion with Oscar, Lucy and Patrick....and a special thank you to my amazing 'baby sitter' Sandra.



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