The Belgium Weekender

Ok admittedly this happened a few weeks ago, but a promise’s a promise. Basically, travel there was a mission cuz the fuel pumps broke down at Heathrow and they couldn’t refuel our plane to take off again… Actually we were cutting it pretty fine getting to the airport. After feeling smug about checking in online we ended up checking our bags 40 minutes before the flight was due to leave. Still, didn’t make a difference because we eventually set off 4 and a half hours late.. We were ready to go at around 5.30pm, on a spare plane, but the bigwigs in charge had already decided we were to be sacrificed, so after being cancelled, reinstated, then cancelled again, we all had to trek back into the terminal, try and sort out seats on a different flight, hang round in the ensuing chaos, and generally remain high spirited. At one point when they first announced the flight had been cancelled I just felt like, “Fuck. I’ve come back from Canada 2 months early for this. I’ve spent £180 on vinyl, practised for hours, laid down the money on flights, got 2 people to come along with me for the ride… There’s no fucking way we’re not getting there before 4.30am Belgium time.” (the time of my set)

Fortunately we did manage to fly out, but damn, I thought we were going to have to dig deep into our resourcefulness for a minute there. Still, getting in that late meant that no-one could come pick us up, and we couldn’t get the train, so after getting ready in the airport toilets and mixing up a lethal dose of vodka cocktail, we dropped €75 on a taxi, though admittedly we did detour into Leuven centre to pick up McDonalds for dinner before heading to the club (yep, McDs bag in hand, how flash are we??).

What can I say about the party?? IT FUCKING ROCKED. Seriously, one of the best nights out I’ve ever been to. Nothing to do with the fact that yours truly rocked the show, enjoyed copious amounts of free Stella (direct from the source), partied with old friends, made new friends, received much praise from the crowd & fellow DJs alike… It doesn’t get much better. Amazingly, I managed to keep dancing until the very end, which I think came at about 9.30am, if i remember correctly. At this point, most sane people would head to bed (in fact most sane people would be getting up..), but not me – instead I headed to Mechelen with an American girl named Tiffany, who is out in Belgium studying a curious instrument called the Carillon – vaguely like a set of organ pedals arranged like a keyboard that you play with your fists and which are connected to a series of tuned bells.. (I’m sure she could put it better!) After climbing the 506 steps to the top of the tower the instrument is housed in, I got to listen to a rendition (along with a random crowd of Belgian tourists), which was pretty impressive, then ring out the quarter hour bells, except I got a bit carried away and gave the wrong signal, oops. Do they care we rang the bells for 3.45 in afternoon when it was 11 in the morning?? Probably not :)

Actually I couldn’t believe that I managed to single out probably the only other native English speaker in the club besides Al, myself and my sister. What are the chances. Anyways, many thanks to her for giving me the (apparently winged) Mechelen tour :) I thought it would be something different, as I’d been to Leuven and wandered round the previous year with Gurpal. And it was! I think I eventually put my head down for a couple hours kip at 2.30pm, maybe it was a little more as we ended up getting back to Leuven around 8.30pm.

On arrival we were greeted by Wouter’s other half, Kaat, and her sister Elizabet, our tour guides for the evening :)
We grabbed dinner in an Italian place (where they served pizza with kiwi fruit on it?) then visited Wouter’s apartment for the first time. Really plush place, and for the rent they pay, wow. Makes England look like a suuuuuper rip-off. But then we all knew that already… Anyway, we decided to go check out a couple bars in Leuven with Wouter, who managed to resurrect himself for the purpose of beer. We felt it would be rude not to check out the Leuven beer market – the place with the highest concentration of beer taps in the world. We went to an apparently happening bar called the Professor for some cocktails then ended up in a funky lounge bar kinda place, who were playing some quality tunes. Think by about 1am though everyone was pretty dead so we headed en masse to Wouter’s to crash out. I have to say I was more charmed by Leuven than last year, though it could be the fact that it was a little better organized and hence more chilled out this time around!

On the Sunday we managed to briefly take in Brussels, actually made it to the centre this time – last year me & Gurpal got off at the wrong station and ended up in Brussels Noord, the seedy hooker hangout, lol. The sun was shining so we ran round and took some photos, grabbed a swift cherry beer (of course we weren’t aware of that when we ordered it) and some food, then headed to the airport to fly home.

In the airport there was a strange guy spitting bits of apple on the floor, which provided a source of amusement for a while, but fortunately there were no more flight delays! The drive home from Heathrow was pretty dodge though, I was close to falling asleep given the previous two nights’ festivities. Oh well, we made it back in one piece.

Awesome weekend. And considering Europe is so easy to get to (OK, the continent, technically), it’s something I’ll definitely be doing again. I was pretty happy not to have to go to work that Monday tho!

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