Drum roll…. Ta daaah! Finally Cuthbert arrives in Belgium from Port Elizabeth, safe and sound albeit over two weeks late. The ‘Great Africa Chapter’ is now closed and we’re looking forward to three months around Europe before we ship to South America in the autumn.
So… where first? After collecting Cuthbert from Zeebrugge docks, we set-off down the road for a quick stopover to see the sights of Brussels. The Belgian capital has plenty of old cobbled streets with beautiful old architecture to wander around, plus the added bonus of some great traditional bars, beer and waffles to sample. No trip to Brussels can miss the world famous ‘Manneken Pis’ statue of a small boy urinating into a street fountain! Not the most positive example of best-behaviour to set for children, but we also saw a few stag-party chaps who were no doubt skilfully emulating the iconic statue by the end of their night’s festivities. Bizarrely, when we first walked passed the Manneken Pis he was dressed in a very odd looking hooded monk’s cloak and holding a miniature broom-stick. We never got to the bottom of this strange attire (possibly the artistic expression of an over-enthusiastic stag-party? 🙂 ) but when we returned later he was back to his famously naked self.
Still in Brussels… we moved on to one of Europe’s most famous landmarks: the Atomium. Built for the 1958 World Fair it still, after 57 years, looks like something from the movie ‘Back to the Future’. It has an unmistakable ‘futuristic’ feel and from inside the top bubble there are great views over the city. Inside the Atomium, you get the feeling that this is how the architects predicted the early 21st Century would be: everyone living in metal-blob structures and pods. With the benefit of hind-sight we now know that ‘the future’ has not turned out quite the way envisaged in 1958, but as you walk around inside the Atomium you have to keep reminding yourself how old it is and how far ‘we’ have come since it was conceived. In 1958 the space-race wasn’t much off the starting blocks, jet air travel was barely off the ground, TV broadcasts were in black and white and not yet widely received across most of Europe. The interior of the Atomium in 1958 must have truly felt like the early US Starship Enterprise come to life (come to think of it, even the original Kirk and Spock were not yet on our screens at that time!), yet in 2015 it still feels like a piece of ‘forward thinking’ architecture. Pop in to see it next time you are passing through Brussels and let us know if you agree 🙂 .
We really enjoyed our short time in Belgium and – contrary to the impression created by the eponymous Christmas dinner vegetable – we found no sprouts in Brussels 🙂 .
Moving on from Belgium, we went on our way to Germany to the Abenteur & Allrad Show in Bad Kissingen, east of Frankfurt. This is a great four day event for anyone interested in overlanding and 4×4 vehicles. Watch this space for the story, coming soon to a computer screen near you…