Sunday, January 20, 2013

To Belgium and back

AUTHOR NOTE: Kees is pronounced CASE as in bookcase or the more suitable, nutcase!)

After suffering for months with a sore hip, Kees’ mom, Maria, went in to have her second hip-replacement operation on the 11th. Luckily for Maria, her lovely friend Esther, owner of the gorgeous Hotel Estherea in Amsterdam, also needed to have a hip operation. So together they went down to Belgium, which is apparently the best in the area, to have it done.
Last Monday night Kees got a call from Esther’s husband, Mark.“The weather’s supposed to be really bad tomorrow but if you’re still going, you better take my car.”
Baffled Kees gently says, “That’s really nice… but… I’m sorry, what am I doing tomorrow?”
“Going down to see your mother in Belgium….”
“Oh” After an awkward pause Kees says, “I didn’t know anything about it, but okay.”
I have a slight suspicion that Kees had a hard time turning down the opportunity to drive in a 100,000 euro Land Rover, WITH heated seats I might add.
We stopped by to pick up the car in Amsterdam. After a coffee and a nice chat with Mark, who we’d both only met a couple times, he gave us a quick briefing on his car and set us on our way. We were cruising, though I can honestly say I’ve never seen Kees drive quite so carefully in my life. To which Mark later insisted, “That car isn’t meant for careful, it’s meant to be pushed. You’ve got to test out its power!!” Having travelled extensively all over the world, I have seen so many acts of kindness, trust and hospitality, yet every time someone goes out on a limb for me and trusts with no hesitations, it really reminds me of the beauty of this world and the people in it.
We arrived at the Ghent Hospital a few hours later, with no real weather issues and the traffic had not been bad after Amsterdam’s morning rush.
The hospital is an impressive, old, brick building that looks like a palace. It’s just so different from the modern, glass buildings I am used to at home and I absolutely loved seeing it.

The hospital.

We caught the two ladies when they were out in the hall on an afternoon stroll, both with their crutches/walker. What a sight! I mean, why not make a date to have surgery and spend a week together in the hospital? It comes with free room service and all! It’s practically a five star vacation!
But honestly, we stayed a few hours with them and were in a constant fit of laughter. They managed to arrange a private room for the two of them and it looked more like a party room than a hospital.
They looked happier than any two people have the right to be especially in hospital beds with terrible food and an “evil night witch” as they named one of the nurses. They were making jokes and with all the fond memories they had made, I’m pretty sure they could fill a novel titled, “Our Date to the Hip Doctor”
It was funny to hear the Belgian-Dutch accent. Not only is their accent soft but apparently they are a lot more polite and softer than the Dutch who can be quite blunt and sometimes even crude. Esther was getting an absolute hoot out of Maria freaking everyone out with her ribald/bold remarks such as “Do I get a last wish? I want a last request in this life. I want one nice romp with the doctor before I go. He’s super sexy.” Reiterating the story had Esther in stitches, literally, especially trying to explain the nurse’s shocked expression! I tell you, that Maria girl is naughty!!!
Of course the whole experience was not pleasant but together they had a way to make it humorous and turn lemons into lemonade.
We bid the two crazies adieu and since we were only 50km away we decided to hit Brussels before heading back. I have had such itchy feet these days, especially seeing everyone’s travel photos on Facebook, so going to Brussels was a small release for me. Even though it is so similar to Holland, I was jumping out of my seat, taking terrible photos with my iphone. I was SO happy to be sightseeing. We literally drove onto the Grand Place square, which I know you are not allowed to do, but Kees just followed the GPS ignoring my,“Oh my gosh, we are NOT allowed to do this.” My remark was confirmed as soon as we stopped our car in the middle of the magnificent square. A passing local informed us, “You’re not allowed to drive here.” It did make for a good photo though.

Grand Place, Brussels.

After trying to steal a policeman’s parking spot outside the police station we drove around the corner and parked, one street down from the square. Normally, you can’t get such a good spot, but that’s because, again, it was illegal, only meant for taxi’s.
Nestled in the corner of a wooden tavern on Grand Place we ate rabbit stew accompanied by a nice drink. Snow was falling outside and we enjoyed the beautiful surrounding buildings, each covered in thousands of carvings built hundreds of years ago. The restaurant had an old atmosphere with puppets hanging from the ceiling, a big fire in the center, wooden tables, chairs and a big, stuffed horse.

Stuffed horse at the restaurant.

We left and arrived home at 1am. During the drive down and back, I was working on my second book. I most often do my writing while in the passenger seat. I have to admit, I truly love my office.


At 5:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn you savannah I want Rabbit soup!! hahah That Nut Case you have...breaking all the rules...surprise surprise!!!

I'm so glad you and everyone had a giggle party and all is well!!

xoxoxo More people have your book in their hands after today's fair!!


Bree Bree


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