Day Fourteen

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Tigres de Voyage

May 24, 2002
Friday

Antwerp to Brussels by Car - No Firm Plans

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Morning in Antwerp

Brussels and the Atomium 

Waterloo at Closing Time

Pizza and Packing

Day 13 Return to Main Page Day 15

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Morning in Antwerp

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Dave: We woke up for our last full day in Europe. Today we would drive around Antwerp, drive down to Brussels, then spend the night near the airport to make an easy exit home in just 24 hrs time.

We checked out of the Novotel Antwerp, and made way too big a fuss about the industrial area where it was located. It was just such a hoot to find stacks of industrial fluid canisters stacked in the vacant lot across the street and semi-trailer trucks lined up and down the block.

We took the several pictures and panoramas you see here, then circled over the freeway to the little neighborhood we found last night (when we were lost). We quickly found a bakery, sent Jesse in to buy us a bagful of breakfast, and were on our way down into Antwerp.

We had found many historic European buildings and neighborhoods last night. Today, in the light of day, we noticed more modern Euro-style structures in the close in suburbs and much more hodge-podge street architecture. We drove about for an hour taking pictures, then headed south toward Brussels when the slow misty drizzle started.

Our room included Jesse's "day-bed" with SOFT pillows

Dolphi is Novotels corporate mascot. He loves to travel.

The Antwerp Novotel shares the parking lot with its low-price corporate cousin, the "Formula One" inn.

Across the street, industrial storage lots are busy
Antwerp's busy port completely surrounds the Novotel.

Jesse emerges with a bag full of our favorite breakfast
Blocks of high-density Euro-style Apartments

Typical Antwerp city street
Typical hodge-podge city block in Antwerp

Downtown redevelopment: New building attempt to duplicate historic architectural styles
The fair was in Antwerp. Same one we saw in Brugge!

This sign was funny when we thought it meant
"no construction allowed" instead of
"construction zone ends"
Antwerp's Museum of Art looked more ominous with the overcast skies threatening rain today. On our next trip, we intend to visit more museums. Today, we just drove around to "get the feel" of the city.
We found Michigan Straat, a name from home. Was it a coincidence that a bowling alley was on the corner?

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Brussels and the Atomium

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Dave: We headed down toward Brussels as the misty drizzle turned to light rain. We quickly found the airport, driving right up to the same front doors we found upon arrival two weeks ago. Tomorrow morning, we would drop off the Mondial and head in with our suitcases.

At one o'clock, we figured to check into the hotel drop off our stuff, and freshen up. Unfortunately, the main road between the airport and our hotel was under construction and traffic was bumper to bumper at a complete standstill. It took us 45 minutes to crawl to the front door at the Tulip hotel Brussels airport, barely a mile away.

Bumper to Bumper standstill in the misty rain

Cold and rainy? A simple lunch at Quick Burgers
Fast Food is universal, the world over.

Dave: After a quick lunch (at Quick Burgers) we visited the Atomium, a left over from the 1958 World's Fair. It is a novelty building in the shape of a gigantic crystal of Iron. The circular pods are all 3 story rooms, and the connecting bars hold escalators or stairs. The building was due for a much needed renovation in 2003.  Halfway through our visit the rain partially cleared so we were able to take a few quality pictures of the surrounding area.

Afterward, we drove on to Waterloo, just south of Brussels, the site of Napoleon's historic military defeat by Wellington.

Atomium on a different day
Dave at the  base of Atomium

The Atomium is a giant Iron Molecule
Dave at the Observation window (in the misty rain)

The connector balls are actually giant 3 story rooms with lots of nostalgic presentations on the 1957 worlds fair.
Jesse outside the entrance area and souvenir shop

The view of downtown Brussels from the top observation area at the Atomium (when the rain partially cleared)

The universal symbol for fire exit contained a Phoon
Bumper-to-Bumper traffic in the rain going to Waterloo

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Waterloo at Closing Time

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Dave: We drove south to Waterloo, jumping on and off the freeway as rush hour traffic backed up in the drizzly rain. We arrived at the small museum and gift shop around 5:30, and were told we had enough time to do just one thing, either climb the stairs to the top of the mound to see the giant reposing lion statue (in the rain) or wait and view the last showing of the movie presentation on the historic map. So we bought some souvenirs and waited The movie was multi-lingual by having no dialog; only music and reenactors with muskets and cannons. Below the screen was a 3D map / diorama that would light to show where various battles occurred. A perfect end to our visit to Europe.

The Brussels traffic and weather were horrible all day long

The 360-degree panorama and famous "Butte du Lion"
Jesse with the movie screen and back lit area map

The town of Waterloo had a campground, B&B, restaurants and museums. We headed back to nearby Brussels instead.

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Pizza / Driving / Packing

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Dave: Both the traffic and rain had become lighter and more bearable as we looked for a place for our last dinner in Europe. We used our Brussels map and GPS to locate the Midi train station where we had walked about and saw our "homeless" guy during our first vacation day. We spent our last daylight hours taking lots of pictures of ordinary things, signs and billboards, buildings and people. But it was getting late for dinner, and we did not desire anything interesting or memorable. From the several easy choices before us, we decided on a warm and gooey pizza from Pizza Hut, to enjoy the "Sa Croute du Fromage" (Cheezy Crust). That seemed a good way to end a cold, wet, and tiring day in Brussels.

Enter in Dutch or French, but have lunch in English

 

"Ici Le Plein Moins Cher" (Here the Full-one is less Expensive).  Pump Prices in Euros, not Belgian Francs
Here's a guy just being himself. We later found
this billboard on a "sexist advertising" web site.

Pizza Hut was full of families and kids
The Pizza was warm and the setting was extremely casual

Dave: We relaxed and enjoyed our pizza and tried to recall all the things we had done and seen in the last two weeks. We tried to organize our thoughts about what to do when we got to the hotel; what to pack and what to carry on, what to do in the morning, when to get up. We talked about Jesse's homeschool project that would be due to start when we got home.

After dinner it was dark, but had finally quit raining. We drove around downtown, finding landmarks and seeking the famous "Mannequin du Pis", around downtown, streets were little more than alleys and cars were parked everywhere. People were walking in groups between bars, restaurants, and clubs. However, we still had a lot do and an early plane to catch. So we set the GPS and headed for the hotel.

Then we got lost. Somewhere between where our "downtown map" ended and "airport map" started, all the streets dead-ended. Our GPS kept us in the right direction, but it was almost an hour before we were back at the hotel ready to organize our stuff for morning.

"Take-Away" in French or Dutch

Three maps and a GPS and were still lost
This sign was all over, I'm still not sure what it means

We had a major panic as we pulled together our clothes, suitcases, backpacks, souvenirs, and paperwork for tomorrow. We could not find Jesse's passport. We dug through the whole pile 3 times when I started to call Lyn (3pm in Florida) in case she needed to start making phone calls to the embassy. Just as Lyn answered, Jesse shouted, "Dad I found it!"

Dad! I found it!

Honey? Ah, nothing, just to say we'll see you tomorrow

 

Day 13 Return to Main Page Day 15


Original Web Upload May 2002
Last Update: March 18, 2008