In search of a helping hand in Antwerpen

Legend has it that a Roman general slayed an evil giant, chopped of its head and hands and threw them into the river Scheldt.  Whether fact or fiction, truth or exaggeration, the tale lives on in Belgium’s second largest city, a place, where – you guessed it – images of said hand dominate the landscape.  The imprint of a hand is prominently displayed on the city’s coat of arms and is a symbol of liberation from the tyrannical rule of Druoon Antigoon.  According to myth, the monster exacted a toll from ships that traversed the river, forcing them to hand over their wealth as well as half of their cargo.  Punishment was severe for those sailors who refused to comply, as their hands were chopped off and thrown into the water.  It therefore comes as no surprise that the origin of the city of Antwerp’s name is derived from the Dutch word “handwerpen, translated into “to throw a hand”.

But Travel Bud and I knew none of this.  Nada.  Zilch.  Zero.  Clueless about myths, legends and monsters that hide under the bed, our sole mission on that ordinary day was to explore and meander and then wander some more.  And, of course, imbibe in some Stella of the Artois inspired kind as well as munch on frites as we people watched the afternoon away.  Forever on the lookout for a patio with a view, our needs were quite simple - one hour of sightseeing rewarded with two hours of liquid replenishment and feasting.  On a break from squabbling, our mood was quite cheery, despite overcast skies and a forecast calling for rain.  Let the patio search begin….

As much as I would love to write that the day went off without a hitch or even a hint of a glitch, I have no choice but to pen the truth of what exactly transpired on that fateful day.  After pounding the pavement for the better part of the morn, with our tootsies close to blistered and our tummies ravenous, the hunt was on for a bistro with a view.  Should be a piece of cake, non?  Whilst the options were endless, some type of agreement as where to dine must first be hammered out.  Quite the unadventurous diner, reluctant to branch out and sample unfamiliar dishes, I was more than satisfied to gorge on pizza Margherita, morning, noon and night.  My companion, on the other hand, had a more refined palate, accustomed to feasting on exorbitantly over-priced five star gastronomic cuisine.

Now, where exactly was I going with this?  Obviously somewhere and just about anywhere, as it had now started to rain cats and dogs, forcing us to seek shelter wherever from the storm.  And, the point is, you ask?  Hold your horses…. I’m getting there…

Ducking into the nearest edifice, the drama soon unleashed….

With nature causing a bit of havoc outdoors, a nature call of yet another sort beckoned, so down the restaurant stairs I raced, sequestering myself in the washroom stall.  Unfortunately, in my haste, I neglected to check the locking mechanism on the door and found myself trapped with quite a finicky and uncooperative deadlock.  Not much of an issue for normal folk, but cause for an undignified meltdown worthy of an Academy Award performance for those of us with closet claustrophobic issues.  You know whom I’m referring to here.  Yep, I was trapped and not going anywhere anytime soon - perhaps ever – or in all likelihood, or worse case scenario, possibly never.

Let me spare you, dear readers, the rest of the sordid details, so in order to make a long story short, nothing like a truckload of tears, wails, screams and pleas to usher aid my way, with several helping hands joining together to force open said jammed door.  

How appropriate – or was that ironic – that this happened in Antwerpen, of all places?  To throw a hand just took on an entirely new meaning.  At least for me.  Just saying….

It’s always an adventure hanging out with cuckoo ol’ Auntie Nora and sidekick Oz, as one of us (who, me??) is either having a breakdown, meltdown, showdown or frenzied shopaholic bargain hunting cyclonic moment but nothing tops the oh so undignified sweepstakes category when all hell broke loose on a random October afternoon in Antwerp when one middle aged older woman (who, me??) got stuck in a bathroom stall.   
But, on the bright side…. at least the squabbling has been kept to a minimum…. at least for this week’s blog post!

Next post – in three weeks – Wednesday, March 23rd!!  Stay tuned!!

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