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Brussels… the Joys of Beer and Random Parades!!

Got into Brussels from Berlin early in the morning and of course the first thing really was to find a hotel that was in my price range. I didn’t have much stuff with me, having just packed a night bag from leaving Gary alone in Frankfurt. He was frightfully sick then… so he really wasn’t for any side trips, but also told me that I should just go alone, since he didn’t want to hold me back really.

One of the things you notice as you mature as a traveller is that, the destination and the number of places decreases in importance and the quality of the time that you do spend in any one place rises in importance. So for Brussels, which is a larger city, the organized bus tours are always a good thing to get your bearings about town. I was wrong; I actually figured out where everything was in relationship to everything else by walking from the Belvedere Museum to the Charles of Lorraine Museum but this was only after having taken the bus tour. Before the bus tour though, I decided to walk through the Grand Place and have lunch in Brussels. The Grand Place was a meeting place for merchants and as the city center. It is a gorgeous square with the Baroque buildings, quaint cafes and people watching.


Also while walking around looking for a little place to have lunch, I walked through the Galeries St Hubert, which is a distinctive glass roofed arcade in the center of town, lined with cafes, theaters and luxury stores has the distinction of being the first shopping arcade in Europe. Built in 1847 and recently renovated, the Royal Galleries (Galerie de la Reine, du Roi and du Prince) is definitely one of the place to go shopping… umm if you’re a gazillionaire!!!


There are many luxury stores and great cafes inside the Gallery… the combination of the people bathed in the natural light coming through the glass roof does make it a spectacular lunch venue….


Weekend trips allow you a little taste of a place but I do wish I had more time to visit the Galeria and explore more – but time wasn’t a luxury I had – so the program was walk, photograph and move on.

From the Galeria, it was off to Brussels Cathedral, which is of great historical significance in Belgium, having been built during the middle of the 11th century. In the 13th century, the St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral was thoroughly revamped and many Gothic features were added. The south bell tower boasts almost 50 bells, which makes Sunday mass quite the event – with the bell ringing.


After wandering on foot, I decided to take one of the ubiquitous “red bus” tours that you can find in any European city. I’ve always been a fan of these, as they are relatively inexpensive and give a great overview of any European city. My first gripe though was that I had to look for information and a guide to provide information about the world-famous Grand’ Place with its unique city hall and splendid guild houses.

Often referred to as the Royal Palace of Brussels, the building itself was constructed towards the end of the 18th century, although the present façade was added many years later, in the early 1900s, on instruction by King Leopold II. The Royal Palace is no longer used as a royal residence, as the Belgian monarchy now live in the suburbs, within the Royal Castle of Laeken. It must be nice to have two palaces to chill out in …

Unfortunately, the palace was closed, hence there were no tour available that day, which was a pity, since I would have liked to see the inside of the Belgian Palace – but those are the perils of short touring. Nevertheless, it  was on to Brussels park with the views of the Palace and lovely fountains.  Of course, the main gates to the gardens were huge pillars that stand to greet new visitors

After St. Michaels cathedral, the Congress Column, it was on to the Heizel district with the renowned Atomium! To be fair, I didn’t really know much about the Atomium, but it seems that for every Expo across the world, there were just larger and larger symbols of the Expo, it does resemble the BioDome in Montreal, that was there for  Expo 78.

Atomium


The Atomium was a monument built for Expo 1958 and is an Iron Atom magnified 165 Billion times. When we were passing by the Atomium, it was closed that date for some reason. I later found out that the Atomium was closed for some time because of renovations. Just like the Duomo in Milan was closed for renovations… why is it that when I got there, it was closed?? eh? Ah well, maybe some other time, I will be in Brussels and I will have a chance to see the panorama from the top. The next stop on the ride was the Chinese pavilion and the Japanese tower.

King Leopold II was so impressed by a Japanese structure constructed for the 1900 Paris Exhibition that he bought the plans for the 125-foot Japanese Tower and had a replica built on the edge of the royal estate at Laeken. The wood doors and sculpted panels are the work of Japanese craftsmen. After the king’s death in 1909, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took over the management of the pagoda and nearby Chinese Pavilion, and turned them into museums for Oriental arts, first opened to the public in 1911 (Japanese Pagoda) and 1913 (Chinese Pavilion). The Japanese Pagoda closed down in 1947, only to re-open after emperor Hirohito’s death in 1989. It now houses temporary exhibitions, and since 2005, the Museum for Japanese Arts, which possesses a collection of 17th and 18th-century porcelains as well as various works of arts from the mid 19th to the early 20th century


After the Atomium, it was on past Sablon Square. The name of this area refers to the time when it was still situated outside of the city walls of the 12th century.

It was originally a sandy road along which people had access to the city gates. Because of frequent use this road had become hollow and on both sides a yellowish earth layer could be seen.


This type of sandy clay was called “zavel” in Dutch and “sablon” in French. In the 14th century a small chapel in the sablon area was transformed into an important pilgrimage site where a miraculous statue of Our Lady was venerated. Very soon the area became more populated and was enclosed within the 14th century city walls.


Around 1450 the little chapel had been transformed into a beautiful gothic church, the Sablon church or church of Our Lady of the Victories. In the following centuries more and more noble men settled in the area because it was close to the duke’s palace.


After going through Sablon Square, it was on to Cinquantenaire Park. The first thing that greets you as you enter the park  is the Arc De Triomph. This arch was built to serve as a monument to illustrate the glorious past of Brussels. It also was to serve as a new entrance gate to the center for people entering from the eastern side of Brussels, via the newly constructed Tervurenlaan/Avenue de Tervueren. The lighting wasn’t the greatest, hence the darker pictures that I got from the bus.


As I contined along in the bus tour, I couldn’t help but notice the streetcar cables and tracks which are very similar to those seen in Toronto.


After the bus tour, it was back to the Grand Place to find somewhere to have dinner and maybe catch the Spain v Tunisia match. This match wasn’t really important in anything but I figured having dinner in a small bistro with a burger or something Belgian style with some Belgian beer would be a nice end to a long day.


The one thing that one notices when walking through old European cities, is the width of the old cobblestone streets. On each street, there always seems to be tons of cafes and tables that spill out on to the street. As the night progressed, I met some Belgian who were fascinated by the flag I was wearing and completely surprised that I was from Trinidad, as they expected someone much darker than me. As is everywhere else I travel, people thought I was Samoan or a Pacific Islander…. well they were right in that I was from the islands, just the wrong side of the world. That night Spain managed to come back from a shock goal to beat Tunisia with two goals from Raul. There was an impromptu parade in the streets but I dont have any pictures as I was quite drunk from the Cherry and Lime fruit beer that I had been drinking with dinner.

I did have an adventure traversing the crowds and trying to find an ATM, since I had run out of money and I had to find an ATM. The cafe owners were very nice in letting me run off to find the ATM. In Trinidad, it would have been a massive problem for me to run out and find money, but I guess when you are a tourist then it is a luxury that people are willing to afford you.

FIFA World Cup 2006 : Germany : Day 4

End of day 3 -  and start of day 4 – pre dortmund!!

Well the first match come and gone—-
well all the squad meet up…. it was ttcom and mrs ttcom, slade, gary , nygill, friday, bago soldier and myself. Ah was supposed to meet up licks, but he was MIA…
well boy we represented well with huge flag and thing…. people love the big flag ah was walking around with.. the english fans ´serendaded# us everytime we passed one of their bars… the paraguayans chanted and the socceroos were with their ‘AUSSIE AUSSIE OI OI OI’

Saw a lot of trinis from the tours… since you could tell what speed they was on…. just on the Im here vibe and nothing else….. well we was walking all around and thing…(god damn im tired just typing now… lol.. it just hit meh)

Well the fan fare as I posted was amaying.. all countries all flags, thousands and thousands of people. It was so packed they closed off the fan areas .. with about 60000 people around it was that much I heard from a police officer. But it was brilliant …the atmosphere, incredible!!

Well after walking around, watching the first half of the match.. of course by this time i was properly liquored up… drinking apfelweiss and 1919 together… quite the potent mix…we decided to head to the Marriot to watch the rest of the match.

When we got there… it was almost the end of the Germany match… but Ecuador was to come!! We met some brits, who in good spirit jabbed a bit at us…. I went drinking against them and lost…. but they were buying… so i was drinking!

Then met a portuguese guy from toronto… he started buying drinks for us all…. then met a german guy who had a trini girl and she had a cute german friend who liked trini boys, and friday came and retrieved me!!

Then met a flight attendant and her friend….they bought drinks again for me…. then met these other english lads… who guess what!!! Bought drinks for me again!!

In the mean time, while i was socializing, the lime was sweet with nygill buying rounds also.. the food was decent and talk was good and everyone from different countries was just on the same vibe!! BRILLIANT!

So by the end of the night… everyone went off.. Friday dropped everyone off and thing… Gary and I caught a cab… and that was the night!!

Quite a lot of liquor and thankfully no hangover…. but now to get ready and head off to Limericks.. since that is where the lime is tonight.. before the SWEDEN game!! People liming there from about noon or so and it is a 3 hr train ride to Dortmund… but Friday was gracious enough to drop a couple of us down there and thing!!

What’s amazing is that the board men met up and liming we liming for years… it was great!!! Anyway, over and out… I will post tomorrow morning.. since I feel that once I get to Limericks… there will be a tad more liquor to be had, more people to meet and greet… but today is trinidad#s day .. win or lose… we here, we reach and we glad!!!

PS I think I met up with Palos and some other fellas… but i was properly drunk by then… so Palos… if i say anything bad… forgive me!!  Beer Mug Rolling on the floor laughing

 Day 4 continued from Frankfurt to Dortmund and back to Frankfurt!!Highlights : Well gentlemen, I am up late provided the blog report from this end… we came into Dortmund at 4am… I have no voice, Destra mash me up, Maximus Dan surprised us with his song…a PERSON was picked up at traffic light by a fittie and her grannies (names cannot be mentioned) .. oh yeah BTW a small matter…. Trinidad beat Sweden!! Wait the score was 0-0… and how is that a win? these questions to be answered in this edition of the blog (by the way people, thanks for the very nice e-mails)The morning started off nice and bright and not a cloud in sight…. blah blah blah!! Details….The morning crew was the usual now…. Friday (who has been an amazing and gracious host to deal with all of us . big up!!), Slade, TTCom and Mrs TTCom, NYGill, Bagosoldier, Gary and myself. We all linked up at the Marriott downtown Frankfurt, TTCom came with a case of beers c/o the US Army (thanks Dubya!!) and we all trundled in and off we were.

 

The drive was 2 hours, parking was hell..and there was trini like rain…. everywhere was red, white and black!!

Once we parked and got in, the original plan was to head to Limerick pub to meet up TI and the other crew there… but from directions on this/other sites… (no names mentioned * cough cough*) we were led to beleive that Limerick was actually close to the Westfallon Stadium .. this was not the case!!!! So of course we just limed there.

TT Tourism had a booth there, Sherwawyne was there greeting (we all get some pics with him), got some FREE trinidad shirts, flags, bandanas and the kitchen sink… did I mention it was FREE… the high price allows that sponsorship doesn´t it *lol* We lime and drink in the huge concert style bar under till about 4 pm, when my ´FINDING TI´adventure was about to start. TI was in contact with Bagosoldier, my phone was cutting in and out, as were everyone´s phone in the stadium… who knew why?  Anyway, I had tickets for TI´s uncle, so I had to get them to him, but coordinating was quite difficult, and in the end I could not get the ticket in time to TI  Cry , however Rikki Jai was there looking for a ticket.. and didnt have a ticket cause his complimentary was in traffic. So at 5.52pm… 8 minutes to kickoff, I sold Rikki the tix (face value of course) took a pic with him as proof and off I went running through the gates to get to my seat on time.

Walking through the gates, then down the aisle with the Trinis singing Warrior and chanting was a simply electric feeling, it was like running through your dreams, most of that match felt like a dream. I got to my seat 30 secs before the Anthem played and we were seated in a couple rows of Swedes with only us as the Red, white and black. Singing the anthem there, drew ONE tear to my eye!! it was phenomenal, seeing a huge block of Trinis in the sun, then another huge block in the North eastern corner of the stadium, but we had about 1/4 of the seats there, which was amazing!

Kick off time, and we started slowly and what I noticed immediately was the Birchall and Edwards were slipping on the turf… maybe it was only me who noticed that, but that 45 mins was gutwrenching tension, every slip, misplay, blocked shot was greeted by Swedish cheers and Heart Failure on the Trini side.

 

I think I aged 10 years for every minute of stress, but the first half closed off with 0-0 and the Swedes on my side were a bit pissed but they still seemed confident about their chances for the second half. They were very good sports about everything who cheered good plays and boo-ed the bad ones.

Halftime came and time for a drink! Well it took 40 minutes to get a Coke, such was the mass of people who came at halftime, but it was entertaining, from meeting a man living Texas who from Marabella, to tantie brooklyn to the woman who have a head that look like a bottle of Javex hit it…Cisse can attempt to pull off dotish hairstyle but this woman with platinum blonde hair just was a walking disaster… but she entertained the three of us while we there getting the cokes.

Got back to the my seats, and 12 mins had elapsed and we still were 0-0. Avery was gone and I didnt know. As the time moved on, the Swedes were getting more and more antsy and we getting louder and louder, and WE means all the trinis! We were growing in confidence with every passing minute and the play reflected it, and conversely the play of the Swedes reflected their surprise and of course SHAKA just own them, but then again this is not a TOUCHES match report… so back to the experience!

With the final minutes, there were huge OLE and WARRIOR chants, one could easily think Trinidad had won! Once the final whistle blew, the Swedes around me were shocked. In fact, shocked is an understatement, they were dismayed, mortified, disgusted and sad all in one, and yet they were good sports. They all shook hands with Gary and I, commented on the brilliance of Shaka and moved on. I swapped shirts with a Swede, another Swede gave me his hat to wear, which I did for about 10 minutes, since I was heading Limericks and I could not be in a Swedish shirt and hat for the night, I felt naked being without the the flag draped around me. To the Swedes, the fact that they could not beat a 10 man `Banana republic´ was quite sobering for them, and everywhere we went, it could be seen that the Swedes considered this a loss. Good souvenirs and pics though!

So once that matter of beating Sweden was done, it was back to the car, link up some more men, who we had met earlier and had directions to Limericks. And off we went, our thirst quenched by the Army beers! Drove down to Limericks, passed thousands of Trinis going back to the Haubtbahnof, saw meh padna Kyle Johnson from Naps… in fact it is amazing how many people I recognized from home.

So we got to Limericks and it was rocking!! I got to the front of the stage, and Destra played for a full hour with a characteristically high energy performance, except when she started on this pro-feminist rant type speech… boring!!! She rocked the house, and then Maximus came on and closed with Warrior!! Now what time you think this was all done by? 2 ? 3 ? 4am? Not at all, the Europeans are religious etc and the show was done by 11.30pm!! However we limed there.. watch some more fit woman, got some food and then was back on our way to Frankfurt!

Of course, the cheers and props from everyone was just great!!! Even the stinking bloody English gave us some props!!

On our way back, we stopped at a light and the grannie mobile (What is up with these older women in Germany…. dread seriously!!!), anyway a man said hi, the women said hi and then a man told Friday to stop the car… then a man jumped out and got their numbers – note here .. that man was not me, but cannot be named due to privacy issues from the Schengen Treaty and the Rupee law .. yanno, what happens in Germany.. stays in Germany!!!

so 4 am that was the night… a long long amazing day in all!!!!

FIFA World Cup 2006 : Germany : Day 3 : Frankfurt

Day 3—
Yesterday I spent all day in Zurich and no one here cares about that… so I will skip that and move to today!!

Got up this morning and Slade and I decided to go the FIFA fan area by the Frankfurt Waterfront!!


It is brilliant.. this HUGE 50 ft screen floating in the water.. and thousands of people milling about.

Tons of english fans and even they love us! I have this big trinidad jersey that says Trinidad on it… and I have pics with Socceroos, English fans, and brazillian girls….. but everywhere… everyone calls out Trinidad and we cheer.

It is great… and by the waterfront they have the Trini flag.. once I can upload pics, I will post pics of the Fan area! Tons of conversation with people and everyone loves us! It is amazing!!

The other thing that I am jealous of.. how friendly and amazingly helpful everyone in Germany is. For today alone, 11 people have helped us, given directions, or explained something to us. In English and very halting English! There is an electricity in the air that is tangible and papable, especially with Germany playing tonight.. tons of German flags etc everywhere!! just amazing!!

There are also tons of fans here who wanted the experience but dont have tickets… and I could see if i lived in Europe, I would come here regardless without tickets, it is a phenomenal atmosphere.

For Carnival, it is a one love atmosphere… but only Trinis can appreciate it… here… it is a one world, one family atmosphere, and make no mistake, THE WORLD IS HERE and they know and love Trinidad!


They cant pronounce SOCA, or dance or eat a HOT HOT curry but they will still cheer for us and that I am amazed by, since in Trinidad, people would never be this friendly, and I dont care who will disagree… but only once ur here, can one understand the sincerity of the people.

Anyway, Friday and Tobago Soldier on dey way.. TI is in Dortmund liming with the boys too.. we liming in Frankfurt at the Fan area and i hope to have pics online for everyone to see the fan area here.

BTW… I have never eaten so much meat and bread… these people love their meat… like seriously love their meat. Anyway ah gone, will post more, and to those, thanks for the PMs and e-mails—- I will post this stuff as long as people wanna read it Smiley

till tonight after Germany play!!

FIFA World Cup 2006 : Germany : Day 2 : Another note

People here have been soooo friendly… it is really amazing..
when we ask people stuff in our english… thez dont understand words like washroom and lavatory but they know toilet….
in the cyber cafe.. the guy only knew one word in the ‘may i use your washroom-lavatory-toilet#.. but proceed to guide me through a labrynth to get me to a toilet.

When we ask directions, as i did when I could not find my hotel, 4 people took time to guide me along to find my hotel…. and the only communication was me asking for directions and showing them my PDA with the German directions to Niddastraße.

And they recognize the Trinidad flag and team!! Yuh know we reach, when they paint our flag on their buildings…. however we still dont have socks with our flag on it.

Aight finally ah gone… BTW We see the white TRINIDAD shirt in the Adidad store.. 64,99 euros!!

Allyuh have to buy the Japan and the new Argentina shirt… they frigging SICK!!!!

FIFA World Cup 2006 : Germany : Day 2

We once I left the hotel, me and Slade decide to play hardcore tourist.. especially seeing that I am professional tourist and thing.

Frankfurt is a city like Montreal, very North American, but obviously with a more european feel. Slade and I finally saw the T-UNIT .. if ah only had a card reader on me.. this shoes is the baddest thing since sliced bread – since we walk in the Adidad store and both Slade and I were like kids in a candy store. The store just hot for days, with every piece of merchandise around.

The store was on Zeil Street…. or Zeilstauße… Frankfurt version of Yonge/St Catherines/Bank Street. Now all yuh never see a pic of a footballer until allyuh see a fricking 10 storey pic of Ballack, Kaka and Messi .. imagine 30 storey of 3 footballers.. and allyuh think the pic of machel on the promenade for bMobile was ridiculous… Adidas obviously have ridicuous money to burn and all.

But dread, seriously this place have some SWEET oman… but then again, every developed cosmopolitan european city have super sweet oman. Well back to the tourist story… Slade and I was walking up and down Zeilstrauße, when we see a wagon of meat over a fire.

I kid you not… think of a side ways wagon wheel.. with a sick amount of sausages, ribs and pork on the fire. Of course, the fat bitch that I am… I had to get one of these sausage.. it was about a foot long….. ! BTW Slade get one with plenty mustard and dey does give you a piece of bread about the size of an ant.

Anyway after walking about more… we see people drinking on top of a mall..looking down on the street and once again, being the intrepid tourists that we are, we had to investigate and have a drink at the top of the building.

The view was spectacular and I will post pics online….and had drinks!! I had a apfelweiss or apelweiss…. i dont know the exact spelling.. but this pretty. Allyuh ever drink a apple juice that hit yuh like 5 cold carib. Slade drink a beer with about 6% alcohol in too.

Once we drink and take more pictures and gape at woman and clothes… we kept walking looking for the Frankfurt Opera house…. we asked about eleventy seven people where this blasted place is, and no one could give us directions… so we just decided to walk, with no clue of destination – obviously completely lost.

So I man, spot a big fountain out of the corner of my eye.. and anyhow who know me.. know I dont resist taking a pic.. and lo and behold…. guess what!!!

We get to the opera house… so then more pics of opera house and fountain.. and then we decided to end like champions… we went for an expensive steak dinner… where we were the only refugee, poor ass native looking people, but money does talk loud!

Well we eat, digest and decided we want to walk for the old port.. and on the way we passed the #shut down# Goethe house….it was closed… so we kept walking till this internet cafe.. and now both of us are typing away furiously!!!

Next strip clubs and me trying to get up for 4am tomorrow!!

FIFA World Cup 2006 : Germany : Just Getting in : Day 1

Hey fellas….
well Slade, Jumbie and I met up in the airport in toronto..
there were a lot of non board trinis going… i even saw some people who i knew … but never publicised that they were going.

Well Slade and I right downtown Frankfurt….about a 8 min cab ride away from each other…. I am right off the Frankfurt Haubtbahnhopft at hotel adler – 65 niddastrasse…. by the way  #ss# in german is ß …hence niddastraße …

slade get a really nice place… bigger than mine.. he have 2 beds and couch for himself…. i just have a smaller room with 2 singles.. but my place is a bit more central….. but I like slade#s place better….

and jumbie seeing some serious pressure, cause his place is about 30-45 mins outside of downtown Frankfurt .. so meh boy under strain to find the place.

But anyhow.. ah not even supposed to check in…..i trying to put pics….but the comp lock down!!

The weather is great… the women looking good….and the transit system is extremely good, once yuh get over the first day jitters and the blasted german who nod when they cant speak english – however people were very very helpful… my hotel manager was really helpful, since he let me stay today for free even though I am booked for tomorrow!!

Anyway ah going to find Slade now and we going to get some food to eat.

Naps, over and out!!

Moping around in Zurich

So after losing my camera in the post Germany v Poland match festivities, I decided to head off to Zurich on the train. My handy rail ticket definitely helped out here. German Rail just impresses me every single time I travel on it. At the Zurich train station