Trip back home

Time to do some reporting on my trip to Belgium during the holidays: weatherwise, it was rather interesting: I didn’t get to endure too much of the grey, rainy, dark and depressing stuff we usually get around this time of the year; instead a couple of nice, cold, snowy, blue sky days (the pic features my parents’ garden on New Year’s Day).

Did lots of family stuff, visiting old friends, checking out the newborn kids of old friends, cooking, having great food (why o why are US bakeries and sandwich joints so horrendously inferior to any randomly picked Belgian baker). My faithful Muskiet got me around, though she had her deal of suffering from the elements, as demonstrated on the picture.

Visited my old Oak Creek roommate Nathalie who now lives in downtown Brussels, close to the Beurs and the Archiduc bar. Wandering around at night, high on Duvel, getting ‘oliebollen’ on the Kerstmarkt nearby, ... it was all bliss and something I definitely miss here in CA, with the anal retentive 2am alcohol laws (I do not miss the indoor smoke clouds that welcome you in every bar and restaurant though).

Antwerpen. De Metropool… strolled along the waterfront on a very cold day, and noticed someone was climbing the tower of the Kathedraal (see picture); it turned out to be Muriel Sarkany, world champ indoor sport climbing, who was making some footage for a tv show.

A huge succes in Belgian movie theatres the past year was ‘De Zaak Alzheimer’, quite unusual for a Belgian film – I checked it out and it’s indeed a well crafted and excellent adaptation of the Jef Geeraerts novel, which I’ve read many years ago – the acting in the movie was outstanding, especially the Ledda (Jan Decleir) and Vincke (Koen De Bouw) characters, though I had problems with Verstuyft (as I’d portrayed him quite differently in my mind). I also wanted to see the Tom Barman (of dEUS fame) movie ‘Any way the wind blows’, but there was only one show at midnight and my friends preferred to go drink beer and eat pita. Too bad, since I had a gut feeling the movie would be great; so I got the soundtrack instead and it contains some real gems: a track by Magnus, which is a new Barman project (with ao CJ Bolland) – some 80’s classics – a brilliant and sinful track done parlando style by Max Berlin – intoxicating breakbeat and drum’n bass (?) by ILS and DJ Aphrodite – etc.
I guess waiting for the DVD is in order…

Of course, Los Hombres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios convened in appropriate manner, at Hombre’s place in Bierbeek – unfortunately there were some absentees, though rather decent excuses were offered (giving birth was among the more valid ones). There was also the semi-annual TeamBuilding Workshop, aka Feest van de Wrede, aka Quake LAN fest, which I did skip however, since I spent some time that day with my dad mountainbiking around Overijse and conquering the (in)famous Moskesstraat.

Spent New Year’s Eve with Leuven friends; Ann prepared an excellent kangaroo stew, I contributed creme brulee and bread pudding to the event. At midnight, there were even semi-serious fireworks in the Bertem sky…

Air France didn’t give me too much headaches and so I arrived well in the Bay Area again (though a one hour transit time from the TGV station at Charles De Gaulle, still having to check in and go through security, proved to be somewhat stressful).


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