Belgium : Sint-Niklaas and The Sunshine Kid

Sint Niklaas Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 268 › view all entries
Spine-crunchingly good beds for the night ;)

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.

  Despite the fact he has a nice, spacious flat in Belgium there is NO furniture and the beds consist of a towel or two laid down on the hard, bare laminate floor.  Now I’m not one who craves comfort and luxury whatsoever and this trip would be a bit of a non-starter if I did but boy-oh-boy does sleeping on flat laminate with NO give whatsoever for the spinal column make for an interesting, fitful and bruising nights sleep! Ouch!” (To be fair, he did warn me.)


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.

"They like bike!"


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 town hall and market-square of Sint-Niklaas.
"  Sounds pretty interesting to me and I feel quite an appropriate place for me to visit given my own nascent trip around the circumference of this splendid sphere.


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!”.

One of the original Mercator globes.


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.

Sint-Niklaas (Santa Claus, the man, the myth, the legend..the statue.)
  For his part, laughing  and smiling all evening long Kaz is keen to explain to me (once again as he mentioned it once in Birmingham) in response to my regailing him about the great weather I’ve been lucky to have thus far in my journey the Japanese concept of the 'sunny' or 'sunshine man/woman' and the 'rainy man/woman.'  It has to do with your character/ personality and runs along the sweet if naïve lines of friendly superstition that if you are a happy, kind, engaging person (I presume with a ‘sunny’ disposition) then you will be blessed with bringing out the best in the weather, as you do in other people.  A rainy man or woman of course presumably achieves the opposite effect.  I am proclaimed (once again) a definite sunshine man which just about makes me chuffed to bits.  Kaz implores me to bring this concept up in conversation next time I’m chatting with a Japanese lady to see her reaction.  Hmmm? Maybe.
Kazzy-T!!! Fun guy, traveller extraordinaire and my host in Sint-Niklaas.
Maybe not.  Coulda come in handy yesterday morning at the hostel in Paris.  I’m not sure as chat up scenarios go it‘s a great winner.


“Hey baby, wanna come back and lie on my spine-cracking laminate floor and see if the sun shines outta me?”


Maybe not! ;D

Stevie_Wes says:
Cheers Patricia! :D Laughter is goooood!
Posted on: Oct 05, 2008
pms70 says:
They should have LOL symbols as well as the smiles, you crack me up sometimes!
Posted on: Oct 04, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Spine-crunchingly good beds for th…
Spine-crunchingly good beds for t…
They like bike!
"They like bike!"
The town hall and market-square of…
The town hall and market-square o…
One of the original Mercator globe…
One of the original Mercator glob…
Sint-Niklaas (Santa Claus, the man…
Sint-Niklaas (Santa Claus, the ma…
Kazzy-T!!! Fun guy, traveller extr…
Kazzy-T!!! Fun guy, traveller ext…
Groovy van :)
Groovy van :)
O.-L.-Vroulue-Kerk (church) or som…
O.-L.-Vroulue-Kerk (church) or so…
War Memorial in Sint-Niklaas.
War Memorial in Sint-Niklaas.
Sint-Niklaaskerk by day.
Sint-Niklaaskerk by day.
Breaking news! ...Atlas was ginger!
Breaking news! ...Atlas was ginger!
Gerard Mercator, pioneering force …
Gerard Mercator, pioneering force…
Sint-Niklaaskerk at night.
Sint-Niklaaskerk at night.
Kaz sits before our stupendously y…
Kaz sits before our stupendously …
Sint Niklaas
photo by: Stevie_Wes