Belgian Chocolate (part 1)
The weather was shitty. Holland shitty. Lead skies were hanging low over the snelweg as we approached Belgium, and my mood wasn’t all butterflies and sugarbunnies like I would have hoped it to be. I think bad weather is the male version of a period, which says more than little about my respect for Dutch men, who – whether wet shit from the sky or sunshine – always manage to smile when you walk past them in an empty street. Or maybe they were just afraid my dad and I were going to mug them. Whatever.
We knew we were across the border when the road suddenly got bumpy and overgrown with weeds on the sides, an experience not far removed from the crossing between Ontario and Quebec. Another half hour or so on the thorny road to the day’s destination and we arrived in Antwerp, just as the first early birds began stirring in order to eventually get off their feathery asses. Antwerp, or Anvers if you prefer, was absolutely deserted in those early morning hours and felt like a ghost town. That, coupled with the weird sensation that I was going to go back to Canada the next day, the fact that we parked the car at the Antwerp harbour, which is fugly…it all kinda gave me a nasty first impression of Belgium.
We made our way to the city’s historical center, and, slowly, the streets started to fill up quite nicely. At some point we got lost, which is rather ridiculous considering the size of the old district, so we stopped in the middle of the street and pulled out the GPS. With the GPS barking out instructions in Romanian at an obnoxiously high volume, us scratching our heads and peering about with a confounded look on our faces, looking completely and utterly lost, it was only a matter of time before a local good Samaritan stepped in to rescue us. And so she came skipping merrily down the street, her flowery skirt flowing in the light morning breeze as the clouds finally parted, giving way to golden sunshine. She smiled kindly upon us poor souls and directed us with great kindness, in English and French, to Grote Markt. So we thanked her and skipped down merrily to Grote Markt, where the first thing to greet us was a glorious view of the City Hall.
And that’s where things went Twilight Zone on my ass.