Day 1 : TravBuddy Meet-Up Antwerpen 2008
Antwerp Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
"Ed ?", it was BJ calling. "Yes ?". "Where are you now?" "I'm at that big cinema we agreed to meet at." "Okay, guess what ... we're still in Rotterdam. I left my wallet in the car. You'd better get something to drink. We'll see you in an hour or so." And thus started my first TravBuddy meeting in Antwerpen, organised by Sylvie and Pieter. I killed time by grabbing a late breakfast at one of Metropolis' restaurants and reading about Antwerp's history in the Lonely Planet Belgium & Luxembourg (hey, I'm a trivia freak, sue me !). After a cheese omelette and two cappuccino's Bart and Derk arrived and we continued to the hotel we'd be staying in. This little 10 minute trip proved that it was high time I updated my TomTom maps.
After dropping off our stuff we made our way to the Groenplaats through the balmy afternoon weather. There we called Sylvie who came to meet us in her first colour of the day (an orange shirt). Before long we were joining 10+ other TravBuddy members and exchanged stories with Dave and Joost. After the first couple of Belgian beers were consumed Pieter, also known as The Mohawk, took us for a walk around the city centre. He tried to explain some of the interesting details about the Cathedral, Brabo's statue in the market, the Steen castle and the executioners door to an audience who had already started to become slightly corny, owing to the first portions of alcohol.
After a refreshing ice cream we settled at another outdoor café, the now infamous De Troubadoor (I'm not too sure that it was actually called this, but that's the name on the building; it's one of the places on the square at the cathedral's entrance).
Anyway, conversations commenced and we got to know people like JC, Kim, Daniel and many more. After about 4 rounds we decided to head for a little middle eastern bar were we'd seen people smoking seesha's (waterpipes). BJ and I were joined by Alex and David. Having smoked seesha in the middle east we'd come to know this fine art of relaxation, which even at the price of 8 Euro a pipe was worth the money. We must have been a bit of a spectacle, judging from the surprised reaction of the TravBuddies that spotted us.
And then it was time for dinner ! All the drinking and smoking had made us hungry, so the group took a tram to Amadeus. Unfortunately we weren't allowed inside yet since we were 45 minutes too early. And what better way to kill time than with a few more drinks outside, were I struck up a conversation with Marloes and Bart about our mutual experiences in Cambodia.
And than it was really dinner time ! A long set of tables filled up with what must have been 25 travel enthusiasts, most of whom dug into the tasty spare ribs that seemed to be the specially of the place (together with the shared toilets at the end of the dangerous staircase). While getting covered up to our elbows in grease and our nails got blackened by the soya sauce more stories were exchanged. I had a couple of chats with JC, Anna, Joost and others, while the waiters kept bringing seemingly unlimited supplies of spareribs. The same could not be said of the drinks; all orders for beers seemed to go straight into the twilight zone. Still, at only 22 Euro per person we definitely got out value for money.
The evening got in a bit of a lull at this point while people kept disappearing and reappearing but eventually we made our ways to Pieter's favourite bar. 'Members Only', it said at the door.
rather deserted inside. We were probably too early to catch the real fun at this place, so bit by bit groups of TravBuddies left to search for more entertainment elsewhere. At the end we were left with 6 people and we decided it would be best if we headed for De Vuile Was, a bar where the people who had already arrived a day earlier had seemingly had a good time the night before. Since it was a bit of a long walk Pieter suggested we took his car. A white Fiat Uno covered with all kinds of tags and writings. Three people in the front, three in the back and we proved that it *is* possible to arrange India-like transportation in Belgium. After a couple of forced attempts to close the door we had set a new record !
De Vuile Was was a nice place, but it was a bit too warm and crowded inside so we decided to sit outside, like many other people were doing.
And all good things come to and end, so this evening as well. It must have been well past 4 o'clock when the group said their goodbyes and made their hugs. Quite amazing how friendly and close you can become in just a couple of hours. We agreed that most of us would meet for lunch the next day, and then made out own ways. The search for our hotel proved a bit more difficult than expected, but after a few wrong
turns and with the help of 'Bernard' (who only proved to work after holding the navigator upright, running down the street and making car noises) we found the hotel again. Just in time to get some relief for our near-to-exploding bladders. A fun afternoon, evening and night, so it was no big surprise that I was already sound asleep before I even hit the mattress ...
Note: my camera broke down and I lost my pictures. The pix below have been taken from the many, many other blogs by my fellow TravBuddies ! Thanks ! :-)