Glitches and dining by candlelight - when the lights went out in Ghent

Sequestered in the railway station, schlepping luggage up and down the stairs for hours on end, was perhaps not the most ideal set of circumstances under which to commence my long-awaited stay in Gent, offering a hint of a glint as to what other type of travails were unsuspectingly lurking in the wings, waiting to trip me up.  And, let’s not even get into the topic of windstorms, rain and hail, even though those elements significantly contributed to wrecking havoc on my four-day sojourn.  Could it get any worse?

Yikes!  Did I pack the umbrella and rain boots?

Oh…. and let’s not forget about yet another unforeseen minor calamity – for, just as I had finally ensconced myself in the quaintest of French bistros, parched and ravenous after a harried day of climbing and lugging, anticipating the most delectable of feasts, mere seconds from savouring mouth-watering beef bourguignon to be washed down with the finest of merlots…the unexpected happened!

Our quaint French bistro 

A loud bang, followed by the lights flickering on and off.  On and off.  And then off.  Blackness.  Silence.

Momentarily stunned, unable to fathom the reality of what exactly had just transpired, my thoughts flip-flopped between possible scenarios.  Did I somehow inexplicably lose consciousness, only to emerge temporarily blinded?  Did I imbibe in a tad too much vino?  My mind raced for a reasonable explanation – was all of this just mischievous trickery by some fun-loving apparition out for a few chuckles or was there something of a more sinister nature behind this most bizarre of events?

Yikes!  What happened?  Where's my dinner?

Nope.  Nada.  Nothing of the sort.  Just an average run-of-the-mill power outage – you know – the type that frequently occurs during thunderstorms and inclement weather.   Yikes!!  Imagination once again off on a tangent, lost in its own world of illusion (or, was that delusion?) veering on the edge of insanity and borderline exaggeration.  Not quite, but you get the picture.  (In defense of Imagination, at least it’s back home doing its job, in contrast to going AWOL this past summer, abandoning me in the lurch, as it gallivanted around the globe on its not so lucrative world-wide adventures.)

A flurry of frenzied footsteps followed, as the ever so clever wait staff, brandishing lanterns and candles, hustled to appease the qualms of bewildered diners.  Darting from table to table, the white apron clad team were on a mission to please, re-assuring frazzled guests that this unfortunate blip of events was merely a temporary inconvenience – and, would they care for a complementary glass of vino?

Indulging in some vino just seconds before the lights went out

Not missing a beat, the chef worked his magic and churned out plate after plate of delectable cuisine, five-star succulent dishes to please even the most discerning of gourmands.  Whipping together a bevy of gastronomic delights was a feat in itself, not to mention the additional challenge of having to chop and grill as well as bake and broil – a couple of flickering candles the only beacons of light.

Vino, ambiance and candlelight

I marvelled at this fortuitous turn of events, as who would have thought that I’d be happier than a clam whilst banqueting by candlelight, nestled in the welcoming warmth of this charming bistro.

Oh…and should I even bother to tell you about the collective sighs and groans when the lights eventually came back on? 

Come traipse along with me in search of gastronomic cuisine, and, if perchance, lightning strikes, then thank your lucky stars, for you’re in for a real treat and a dining experience like none other - after all, it’s the unforeseen minor glitches that make meandering the globe so memorable and worthwhile!

Stay tuned for the mis-adventures of cuckoo ol’ Auntie Nora in Belgium and the Netherlands.  What next?  Trapped in the St. Anna tunnel?  Yikes!!

Next blog – in three weeks – Wednesday November 18th!!  Stay tuned!!

Schlepp and lug with the best of them in Gent-Dampoort

Schlepping is what I do best, so why should our detour in Gent-Dampoort not include some heavy weight lifting of the luggage inspired kind?  After all, there’s nothing quite as challenging as battling it out with cumbersome suitcases in a blood, sweat and tears wrestling match in which there can only be one outcome – and, that is not to not get taken out by baggage gone bad.  Slugging it out on the pavement until the bitter end and claiming victory was my ultimate goal, as well as hopefully emerging relatively unscathed and bruise free. 

Yikes! Wrong station! Should have exited at Gent-St.Pieters! Now what?

Ready to jump!

All packed up and ready to go! Too bad we got off one stop early!

After nearly 35 years of hauling, lugging trunks and sashaying satchels across the pond, one would think that I’d have the routine perfected, able to hold my own and exit the train in one seamless hop, skip and jump to freedom.  But alas, such is not the case, as those dratted pesky steps – three, to be exact – stood in my way, on a mission to trip me up, and catapult my bags and I to quite the un-elegant sidewalk sprawl.

Luggage and stairs...the standoff commences.  Let the games begin!

Designed specifically for the annoyance of a certain pink-sneakered gal, the steps exiting the coach seemed innocuous enough, yet for a globe-trotting shopaholic loaded down with an excess of carrier bags, back-packs and packages galore, they posed quite the angst ridden dilemma.  One misstep and I’m a goner, flattened like a pancake, pinned down by truckloads of cascading suitcases, all tumbling haphazardly upon me.  Buried under layers of socks and frocks, I risk being a spectacle of sorts, a middle-aged ol’ Auntie, now the unfortunate subject of curious stares and laugh out loud chuckles.  You get the picture.

And let’s not even get into the issue of the very real possibility of being trampled by hordes of disembarking passengers, on a harried sprint to catch the next caboose, oblivious to the plight (or was that sight?) of a bizarrely splayed foreigner, limbs flailing, torso contorted into the most unflattering of pretzel shapes, yet still victoriously clutching (or was that hanging on to?) her over-burdened shopping bags and then some.  Some would say priorities whilst others would veer towards utilizing not a noun, but an adjective with quite another connotation.  Daft?  Delusional?  Whatever.  You decide.

And so, Dear Reader, you must be perplexed as to why I continually return to the topic of schlepping and lugging, tripping and falling and dragging and hauling?  You would think that I have an almost borderline compulsive disorder, obsessed with being tripped up by obstacles of the dreaded stair climbing kind, immobilized by the mere prospect of having to endure yet another labourious tug and lug up and down never-ending flights of steps.

Those dratted stairs!!

Well, wouldn’t you, if you mistakenly dismounted at the wrong station, having already performed a marathon jaunt of lug and tote all around its parameters for hours on end, only to come to the startling realization that your heaving was all in vain, for you’ve got to pack it all up and start from square one again?

Baggage lined up, ready to jump. Take two!!

Back on track...just one stop till Gent-St.Pieters! (We hope!)

Here we go again.

Will I EVER get out of Gent-Dampoort?  The railway station, that is.

The journey, or should I say, schlepping, continues.

Stay tuned for the continuation of the fabulous mis-adventures of cuckoo ol’ Auntie Nora in Belgium and the Netherlands!!

Next post - In three weeks!!  Wednesday, October 28th!!  Stay tuned!!

Come lug and schlepp your way around Europe, as you cram your trunks with treasures and trinkets galore (and then some more), which then, of course, necessitates the acquisition of additional baggage, thus quadrupling your load, which then, of course, weighs you down and breaks your back and flattens you smack!!  You get the, carry on and shop and drag and cart till you drop!!  Just make sure that you exit at the correct railway station!!  Otherwise….as Miss Pink Sneakers would say “Yikes!!”