Monday, October 23, 2006

Shannon in Antwerpen

Shannon came over and took me out for a birthday lunch today ... it was lovely.

We went out on the bikes and it all seemed very manageable. A short ride to the pub and then a leisurely tour round a new park I had found near the apartment.

The park is a stunning one and I have to go back with my camera.
There's this bridge you see, and a still pond that reflects it perfectly if you peer through the autumn foliage the surrounds it at the moment.

I may have mentioned to Shannon that I thought I knew how to bike to the city ...
Shannon may have raised an eyebrow, indicated an interest in that kind of expedition.

I stopped my bike and unwound the scarf I was wearing, stuffing it into my backpack.
She asked what I was doing.
I said, 'Belgian drivers ...'
She looked confused and perhaps a little bemused.
I explained. 'They're ... quite aggressive. I don't want my scarf getting caught as they scrape by me on my bicycle.'

But of course.
Shannon humoured me.

We set off and she might be American but everything I saw today, indicated that she has some crazy Dutch/Belgian bicycle blood in her.

Here in the city of bike paths, the etiquette is as follows: if someone comes up behind you, they sound their bell and you move to one side. Of course, I later completely failed to observe this particular rule.

Apparently there was a 5-year-old ringing his bell and I didn't move to the right side of the path ... I didn't hear him but anyway I had no idea which side the right side might be. Shannon was laughing as she described the scene to Gert over dinner ... apparently the wee man was tail-gating me and doing everything in his powers to overtake.

So Shannon was out there, ringing her bell as required (and mortifying enough, when it wasn't required on ocassion), eliciting an apology from two young men who pulled out of a carpark without checking the bike path ... raising her fist in a triumphant 'Yes!' as she disappeared into the distance.

We biked all the way to het Elfde Gebod. She had a cherry beer and I had a white wine ... the Belgians have this thing going with me at the moment. I order 'rode wijn' and they bring me white. I guess this means that my pronunciation skills are deteriorating at speed ... the sad thing is that I tried both Dutch and English for red, to be sure I was clear.

We talked and laughed outside in the sun there. The waiter came over and leaned on a table, chatting with us for a while.

I'm not sure that Shannon realised I had only a very loose idea of the way home.

I made one phone call to Gert enroute, just to be sure about turning left or right, and we cycled on, only causing Belgian bike commuters one or two minor annoyances.

I popped a roast in the oven once home ... yes I know, it's a developing trend, and we opened a bottle of Australian red.

Shannon wandered off through the rain about 10pm and here I am, hoping my legs stop aching enough for me to sleep

It was a good day.


Lever said...

Well it's still Monday in the UK so just enough time to shout "Happy Birthday" from across the channel :)

Biking and beer sounds perfect and to have a kriek bier (on draught?) too is the icing on the cake... or froth on the glass? Ah, I dunno :)

Bells sound polite... what happens if you hoot your horn? And does Belgium have the same "bikes rule over cars" priority as I experienced in Germany all those years ago?

woman wandering said...

Lol, thanks lever. Nice to find you here.

A kriek bier indeed. Hmmm she was drinking it and we were outside, away from the pouring ... I don't know.

'Bikes over car priority' yes ... but I'm still slightly tentative because sometimes it's not and I'm not sure when ...

Manic said...

Well there is only one rule in Belgium, don't get hit. That's the main rule. All the rest is court talk, so it doesn't really matter. Ohh if you bike, be careful of those tram rails, someone I know broke her leg on one of those nasty things.

woman wandering said...

'Don't get hit' and 'tram rails' ... okay, dank u wel.

V-Grrrl said...

I have a lovely bike and legs that are loathe to pedal it....such a shame.

woman wandering said...

My legs are furious with me today, v-grrrl, I had to take painkillers this morning ... urgh. My neck, back and other bits too.