Saturday, 2 August 2008

Belgian coast (part three)

Sunday morning, I realised just how brief this holiday had been. Only one full day, really. Time to say mazzel and trek back to Mokum.

Overenthusiasm in the supermarket on Saturday had left me with a couple of bottles of Rochefort 8 I didn't want to try drinking on the journey. No option but to guzzle them down after breakfast. It was already boiling hot. Sitting next to hot plates during breakfast hadn't helped my state of cool. Reason enough to have a bit of a thirst. Purely for liquid, naturally.

Rockaway beach
Once again, we just missed a tram. At least the walk had been down the death hill. "It doesn't matter. There'll be another along in 10 minutes." Dolores reassured me. After half an hour of standing in the baking sun, there was still no sign of another tram. Great.

Eventually, a tram did turn up. It was almost completely empty and the air-conditioning was working so well it was like stepping into a fridge. That's a good example of irony. I'm trying to teach Andrew about humour. In reality the tram was an overcrowded sauna.

After a couple of stops, the driver announced that there were two nearly-empty trams behind us. Things were looking up. We all got seats on the shady side. After a while the air-conditioning was even turned on. This was travelling in sytle. For us. Obviously for most other people sitting in a chauffeur-driven stretch limo sipping champagne would be travelling in style. We're more modest.

Andrew filmed as we flitted along the coast. He got some pretty good footage of the beach. Rockaway Beach by the Ramones will be the musical background when he edits it.

The Plan
I forgot to mention The Plan. We had a plan. Standing in the sun hanging about for a tram hadn't been part of it. Just in case you were wondering. It was a small plan. Dump the luggage at Oostende station, walk into town, find somewhere to eat. That was it. Of course, we also had to retrieve the luggage and jump on a train heading north. But that's too obvious to be worth mentioning. So I won't.

We stumbled along the seafront for a while before stumbling on somewhere that looked decent. Dolores and Andrew wanted mussels. With chips. Very Belgian. The place we'd chosen had a two-course menu for 17 euros. Not a bad price. The food was pretty good, too. My prawn salad was made with the small, but tasty, brown North Sea type.

Following the advice of colleagues who commute between Belgium and Amsterdam, were avoiding the five o' clock train from Antwerp. That gave us a little longer in Oostende. After eating, we had enough time to wander around in search of ice cream for the kids. Vainly, as it happens. And for me to drink a Westmalle Tripel in the station bar. (It's time for Tandleman to look away again). Dolores got me two tins of Jupiler to drink on the train from a machine.

Air-conditioning and seats for us all. The Oostende - Antwerp had both. There were those Jupilers, too. Pretty much a perfect journey. See what boring stories you get when things go right?

Wrong way
We had time in Antwerp station as well. Time enough to climb between its many levels. And drop by the Spar. It stocks Guinness Special Export. A great train beer, because it isn't bottle-conditioned. (That's sacrilege, I know. Preferring an unreal beer.) A four-pack was just right for the two and a bit hours of the remaining journey.

We followed our normal procedure and positioned ourselves on the platform where we expected the front of the train to be. It worked perfectly. except that the train came in the other way so we were at the rear. Four seats together were found, so what did it matter?

And that's about it for our trip. We sang, we danced, we juggled. No that was dream, wasn't it? We sat, we bickered, I took some strange video footage and fell asleep. Then we got home. The end.


Stonch said...

Bloody hell Ron, how you can cane all that strong-as-f*** Belgian beer is beyond me... I just never feel the urge these days.

Ron Pattinson said...

I have one word for you: lightweight.