Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Meneer Manic came to the city yesterday ... it was lovely to finally catch up with the voice often read in my comments section.

Taking time out from a busy university schedule, he arrived in the city just after 4. He was taking a tour with a 'local' ... a special kind of 'local', made obvious when we popped in to Sint Jacobskerk to visit with Rubens and he had to take over the guiding because I didn't really know what I was looking at.

He's a very useful Belgian when it comes to both the interior workings of churches or if you need something read or said in a range of languages.

But Sint Jacobskerk ... quite stunning. Let me copy from the pamphlet for you:
Pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela still set off from Sint Jacobskerk. The baroque furnishings in this late-Gothic church (ca. 1506-1656)are sumptuous and include 23 altars - a feast of marble - and a spectacular art collection boasting names like Jordaens, Rubens and Van Balen.

The church also contains Ruben's burial chapel; indeed, Rubens' House is just 300 metres away. His parish church still exudes the grandeur of this once prosperous parish, now a student quarter.

My other booklet tells me that: this church is still the city's richest because it was one of the few that wasn't plundered by French troops. Most visitors come to see Rubens' tomb and the painting he made for his own burial monument.

Mozart's father once wrote that he was most impressed.

Manic and I wandered on ... through the street of the designer stores, finding Vlaeykensgang - the 16th century shoemakers alley, on down to the river for a quick wander round the outside of Antwerp's medieval fortress, the Steen.

No visit to Antwerpen is complete without popping into Het Elfde Gebod, which Manic could, of course, pronounce fluently.

Gert cooked a rather nice salmon pasta for dinner and I listened as he and Manic gave me examples of their own dialects. I don't know if I've mentioned this before but dialects between villages, towns and cities can vary quite dramatically here. Oftentimes, not even the Belgians can understand the dialect of another Belgian ... it's even more frightening when you're foreigner and you imagine that you are getting somewhere with your Nederlands.

My first experience of something unintelligeable was at a farmhouse on Flanders Fields. Martin saw my surprise and laughed when he said, 'Don't even try to understand ...' and sure enough, last night Manic and Gert had very different ways of saying the same thing ... right down to the rhythm of their particular dialect Dutch.

Today is a day of working with photographs and catching up on long overdue mails ... sorry Fiona.

Tot ziens.


Mark J said...

Did Maniac pass the Vegemite test?
We cant grant a visa until we hear back from you :)

woman wandering said...

My cold only allowed me to giggle weakly but there was horror there too ... I FORGOT THE VEGEMITE TEST, we'll have to put a hold on his visa.

Manic said...

See, you're getting as bad as the Belgian visa department. You're forgetting tests, paper work gets lost, unforseen time offs are in the picture. Guess I'll have to wait just another year to get my visa, and then still need to find the funds to go over there. Ahh heck, I'll just stay in small little Belgium where I can learn West-Vlaams, Antwerps, Limburgs, etc.

woman wandering said...

Argggh, you're right Manic ... but I'm ill.

Hey, I searched Uzbekistan on your blog and was impressed :)

woman wandering said...

Oh and uh-huh manic ... West-Vlaams AND Old Greek and Latin, English, Nederlands, Spanish, French and German ... your linguistic talents were noted.

Mark J said...

Sad to hear youre not the best - its a sad week for all Reese fans as well. Still, must "buck up" - after all summer is just 'round the corner.. oops !

Pam said...

Salmon pasta sounds great, but it's not Fish Wednesday!

woman wandering said...

Reese ... I read your post on her, you knight in shining armour, you.

Hush about summer or I won't release your comments ...

Smoked salmon waits for no man ... or woman, I had it again today, with cheese and toasted leftover salmon. Wednesday will probably be: note to self, go drool over Pam's Fish Wednesday post :)