Sunday, July 08, 2012

Parties and Ships, Antwerp, Belgium

To See Our Photos of Belgium, Click Here

Riya and Frans, at birthday party
We hurried back from the Ardennes on the Saturday afternoon, as there was a big occasion to attend.  Thomas' father, Frans, was turning 60, so there was a party for him that night.  I helped Thomas with others to set up in the afternoon, but I had no idea what to expect for the evening.

Michelle and Kim dressed up in style and looked gorgeous.  We arrived to find family and friends of about 60 or 70 strong gathering for champagne and hors d'oeuvres in the garden of Thomas' mother Riya's school.  Live music and meeting the family, we were then whisked in for dinner.  Now, we were expecting a smallish group party, maybe a BBQ or something, but what we got was a fabulous 3 course meal with amazing sea food, meats and delicious desserts.  It was pretty much like a wedding feast, and it was wonderful. 

Thomas climbing down into the hold
After dinner, there were some speeches, dancing to a live DJ, and plenty of wine and Belgian Beers.  Michelle and Kim even took a turn bar-tending, and dancing a waltz in the kitchen.  It was a fun night meeting a lot of the family, and we were so grateful to be included in the celebrations.
Michelle and Thomas on Bright Ocean

The following day, Thomas was excited because his brother-in-law Gunther, had finally invited him aboard a cargo ship for a tour.  Turns out that Antwerp has one of the largest inland harbours in the world, and massive ships load and unload their cargo here daily.  We boarded the steel ship Bright Ocean, and turns out to be a Burmese ship.  The Burmese crew were ever so nice and friendly, which is true to form from our experience in Burma.  We were able to climb into the hold, which was a rather scary 10m ladder down through a hole.  It is a massive space down there, and can hold hundreds of tons of steel.

We were able to tour around the whole ship including down into the engine room, control room and bridge.  The engine was massive and interesting, and the first officer actually gave us a good explanation of things on the bridge.  Really interesting time on the boat, and possibly a chance we won't have again.

After a couple of nights of more fabulous dinners, we went to watch Thomas' band practice.  Translated to English, the band's name is "Tight Pants", and they play just to have some fun with friends.  Thomas plays lead guitar and we enjoyed watching the practice in their fancy practice room, while having a couple of drinks on the couches!  A good second best to not actually being able to see a real gig with them!!   *Stub
Thomas and the massive engine
Thomas at the engine room controls - Bright Ocean

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