Belgium : Sint-Niklaas and The Sunshine Kid
Sint Niklaas Travel Blog› entry 8 of 268 › view all entries
Man that was a PUNISHING night's sleep!!
Kaz is a great guy, and in many ways my incorporating him into the early part of my trip is in aid of catching up both with a friend and someone who proved quite inspirational in my early musings about the possibility of more extensive travelling. In his early thirties now and settling into a working life (for the time being), Kaz has seen a good chunk of the world already and in the year we lived together in Birmingham he continued to take great little long-weekend excursions, afforded by living an extremely modest and frugal life within his personal space. Used to moving around and living out of a suitcase, or a tiny backpack for so long Kaz does not (need to) own much and his living space is extremely Spartan.
Kaz is at work today, unable to get time off owing to a busy logisitics shipment coming in that he needs to micro-manage which suits me just fine as I have time to explore Sint-Niklaas under my own steam and through my own eyes. By Kaz’s report there’s not much to see or do, but Paris has tired me a little so I’m happy for a quiet one today.
There are a couple of eye-catching enough churches dotted around the town centre, and a nice park at the heart of the place. What is most impressive on the eye though is the very, very large open expanse in the middle of town that constitutes the market place (one of the largest in Europe apparently) and at the back of which sit’s the townhall building with its statue of Sint-Niklaas (Sain Nick, or Santa Claus to you and I). The market place is empty during my time in St.Niklaas and I think looks all the more impressive for it.
Also during the day on the recommendation of the pretty lady in the tourist info office I trot along to one of the town's museums which she states is about the history of "the man that discovered the world was round and not flat.
The place is called the Mercator Museum, named after the famous 16th Century mathematician and founder of ‘modern’ day, if not ALL cartographical (map making) studies, works and techniques that we benefit from today Gerard Mercator (1512 - 1594). So not the man who proved the world was round (bless the pretty tourist info lady…for that see Copernicus, Galileo et al I think?) but rather how best to view, record and get around it. Amongst his more renowned achievements apparently are some of the earliest (accurate) terrestrial and celestial globes (here on display!), many techniques and cartographical instruments and innovations as well as the publishing of many ground-breaking (literally world-defining) maps and also the world's first Atlas, his defining masterpiece, for the most part published shortly after his death.
The museum itself, although not sounding like a ‘great fun way to spend a part of your day’ would probably prove very interesting indeed and the historic documents, books etc on diplay in this very modest sized building are great to see, however aside from an A4 handout at reception, not a single piece of the information that accompanies all the exhibitions and exhibits therein are in dual language. Just Dutch-Flemmish so there is little or no hope of engaging and understanding the very complex journey through what is a very technical subject at the best of times. Shame.
I stroll around Sint-Niklaas for another few hours, have a pleasant lunch and make enquiries at the train station about my next leg to Leiden in the Netherlands tomorrow for my first EVER TravBuddy Meetup “Yey!”.
Later, MUCH later (as Kaz is worked really quite hard by his Japanese and Chinese bosses) Kaz and I meetup and have a cracking meal and some beers in the town centre laughing long into the night. I have a huge steaming bucketful of moules marinierres one of my faves whenever in this part of Europe.
It's been great meeting up with m’pal again. I wonder when he will put on his travellers boots once more? He says that all our talk on the subject tonight has got him very envious and in danger of taking up the backpack again… which I think is a good thing. Maybe I will prove to have returned the favour of travel inspiration.
“Hey baby, wanna come back and lie on my spine-cracking laminate floor and see if the sun shines outta me?”
Maybe not! ;D