Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Belgians were here

Last Friday, Tine, Thomas, Elke and Sien drove from Belgium to spend a weekend in The Hague. I had two classes so I could only meet them in the evening, but it seems they had fun exploring the little sights here despite the grey weather while I was in school.

It can feel so strange to meet someone you haven't met in 16 months, and trying to pick up where both of you left off. The time in between is too vast to summarise, so what usually happens is picking out certain memories from the time you spent together.

The other half of the Belgian company are such lovely girls, doing wonderful work (resident therapist/counsellor helper with teenagers, and working with refugees), and I'm glad to know such inspiring people.

We didn't really plan the weekend, but there was some hint about going to Cologne, Germany, though that didn't work out. Summarily, this is how we ended up spending the whole weekend in Den Haag:
Walking around the Centrum at night and discovering a party happening in a church. A church! How blasphemous! D: Needless to say, our shock did not let us stay long.
More walking in Clingendael Park. Me, Tine, Sien, Elke. Sien wants to catch rabbits in the forest. I am wearing my all-terrain Mary Janes, not the proper footwear for walking in damp leaves.

On Saturday we welcome Sinterklaas (alias Sint Niklaas or Sint Maarten, depending on which town in Europe) after he comes to Den Haag on a boat and makes his way to the Centrum for a big party. Long, strange story about it for those who haven't heard about him. Briefly, the story goes that he used to be a bishop in what is now known as Turkey and each November he comes to see the children, disembarking from a boat from Spain with a book to tell him which child has been good or bad, accompanied by 6-8 black men, called Piet.

Piet gives out candy, carries a broomstick to spank naughty children, and a sack to put them in and bring them back to Spain! Of course when Sinterklaas finishes his tour through the Centrum he announces that there have been no bad children this year! Hurray!

Then on Sunday we went to Delft! The town of blue and white porcelain. Did you know that painters actually paint in black (middle pot) and the cobalt oxide in the paint turns blue in the oven when baked?

All in all, lovely weekend. Looking forward to visiting new and old friends in Belgium!

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