This is our Slide Show of Our trip to Belgium!
We had such a wonderful time in Belgium. . . I will pick up where we left off. . .
During the flight, we slept. We left before dawn and at one moment during the flight I opened my eyes, looked out the window and saw the most beautiful sunrise – We were over the snow covered alps and the sun was rising through the mountains. The colors and reflections of cloud and sky were breathtaking. I thought of taking a photo, but instead went right back to sleep satisfied by the fact that I once again experienced a fleeting moment of pure divinity.
Our darling friend Conrad met us at the train station. Conrad recently spent about 8 or 10 days with us in Austin and we took him and his daughter, Nel and her boyfriend Alfonso, who were en route to Central America, to Lafayette, LA. I met Conrad 5 years ago on a tour with Guy Forsyth, and he graciously offered to help us with the tour and hosted Chad and I during this trip. He has the BEST Music collection and turned us onto dozens of great albums while we were there.
The Journey and Recovery
We had a coffee and hit the train to Tielt then took Conrad’s van to Ardooie, where he lives on the central Markt – the town square. These are usually located by the central church and there’s a wide area where Saturday Markets go down. I loved the “Grote(big) Markt” when I lived in Holland. . . We were met by Conrad’s middle daughter, Sanne at the house. I was totally exhausted and decided to take a nap. When I awoke, Conrad and Chad were out and about and Sanne and I talked for HOURS. Sweet times. We rested all the next day and watched “In Bruges” anticipating our trip to the fair city the next day. It was great to be in one place.
Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet
Saturday morning was Sinterklaus! In Holland and Northern Belgium, Flanders, St Nick comes early in Dec by boat from Spain on his white horse. He is accompanied by a character with whom we Americans are quite unfamiliar — Zwarte Piet. Literally Black Pete. He’s the zany, acrobatic counterpart to St Nick. He’s black faced and wears pantaloons and throws cookies during the Parade that welcomes Sinterklaas to town. There are many different legends about him, but it was really really odd to be in a country where white people and colored people alike painted their faces black and danced around with St Nick. Surreal.
Saturday morning we awoke to a true Flemish Sinterklaas morning. We had chocolate Saints and Zwarte Piets, special bread and mandarin oranges and these funny little cookies with icing on them. Fun!
We left for Bruges around noon and spent hours touring the beautiful, amazingly preserved Medieval city. I’ve been twice over the years, but the city’s beautiful and strange architecture never loses it’s enchantment or charm. Once a thriving port city, Bruges is home to some very unique and strange architecture- many different styles, colors and shapes live on the same streets here. . . beautiful rainy day.
Saturday evening gig was in Tielt. The venue was lovely and the proprietor, also named Piet cooked us a totally gourmet meal! My dear friend, Martine, from Holland came to visit, so we caught up in between soundchecks and meals etc. Our crowd was mostly under 30 and the place was totally packed and they were completely attentive and engaging. What a great blessing! Conrad has some videos on his Youtube of the show. Check them out!
Sunday’s Shows & Visit from Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet
Sunday we had 2 shows. A noon show at Conrad’s pub around the corner from the church. The bar was packed with bier drinkers. We had coffee and played for about an hour.
We had lunch down the street and were greeted during our soup by a big surprise! Sinterklas and 2 Zwarte Piets showed up at the restaurant and paid us a visit. They danced and drummed and took photos with us! Chad was thrilled! (photos in the gallery above)
Sunday Night’s show was awesome. We played in this hip bar in Ruselare. It was more of an adult crowd and Conrad’s daughter Emma brought her friends. We had a blast and a delicious meal afterward.
Monday we prepared for the last gig and recovered from Sunday. Monday night we played at a great listening room called Fagot. It was awesome. The meal was incredible, the proprietor, Jean Piere and his wife were awesome and we made a new friend in Marie Christine, the merch pusher from heaven. Videos of this show are below. GOod Times, My friends. We were joined on stage by Belgium’s Bluesman, Marino Noppe. Beautiful show, beautiful crowd!
Tuesday we packed our goodies and did laundry and then went on a tour of the WWI trenches near Conrad’s. Fascinating. Conrad is quite a historian and shared with us the history of the war in this area of Belgium. Chad took some stunning photos. We even went into a once-church that they used on the front lines. . I got some pics from inside the walls there. Eerie. The sky was amazing as Conrad says that being so near to the sea, the reflection of the water on the clouds is stunning.
We then had biere’s in Conrad’s cousin’s Brewery and were gifted with some amazing cheeses from a tasting that happened earlier. YUM! Unfortunately, our trip to the brewery was brief because we had to catch the train to the airport to go back to Milan. We left with some great photos of women breastfeeding and drinking beer and a tshirt and a glass from the brewery!
We caught the train and sadly left our dear friend Conrad. . . And then flew to Milan. We got there 2 hrs late so we had to get a cab to our hotel.
FLIGHT BLIGHT PART 2
So- many of you are wondering why we got home a day late and why half my messages were cursing Air France. . . Mostly because in the course of 4 days they changed our flight 6 times which ultimately caused us to spend 200 Euro more than we budgeted for the trip. We ended up spending an extra night in Paris and seeing nothing of the city but it’s attitude. That being said, I won’t go into gory details because the most important thing is that we made it home safely with everything intact. well- except the suitcase. It is retiring after i finish unpacking it. It lost both handles, the wheels got messed up on stairs and the zippers won’t zip. It’s time to retire. It’s been a great travel companion.
Many thanks for reading! We hope you enjoy the photos and have a happy happy holiday season!
Wendy and Chad
Videos from Belgium of:
“Low Down” by Chad & Marino