Night location: Gent, Belgium
Song of the Day: Imagine - Glee Cast
Mumisode of the Day: While extracting a bag of orange chocolate balls from her handbag, Mum managed to tip the contents through her bag and down into the passenger footwell. She then made a few of the following comments while trying to retrieve them all while Dad was driving down the motorway:
"The chocolate is on the floor. They fell out of my blimmen bag!
I can't believe it.
It was almost a whole packet.
My seat-belt is cutting me in half.
I don't even have to try and be funny.
Waste not want not.
I need some sort of a thing to swipe at them."
She then realized that some were in her good handbag next to her beloved journal.
"Oh, no! Terrible. In my good bag. Here eat these up (she would retrieve them and feed them to Dad). What next do you reckon?"
Today was a transit day from Luxembourg to Gent. We were up really early as we wanted to explore a cave and Brussels on the way through. The cave was in a town called Han-sur-lesse. Due to the early start we had not eaten breakfast. On a Sunday morning, Belgians like to sleep in and therefore the town had on offer a SPAR supermarket and a tavern. We didn't realise that it was a tavern until we were inside and the bartender who was enjoying a quiet coffee and croissant himself, looked at us strangely and asked, "Do you want a drink?" It was not possible to get food here until after midday. We made a hasty retreat, and passed a man who was on his third schooner of the morning on the way out. It was quite amusing to us that you could buy a beer but not breakfast.
Dad, in true Columbus style, set off into a hotel. After a few minutes of languishing on the street, Mum set in after him in case he had been mugged and needed assistance. Dad appeared from the other side soon after and beckoned the children inside. He had found a fantastic buffet breakfast. Mum was nowhere to be found. Apparently she had entered a dark room, yelled out for Dad and then beat a hasty retreat only to find no one on the street outside.
The cave itself is accessed via a truck/train. None of us are really sure which one it was, as there were tracks but it seemed to bounce up and down like we were in a truck. The cave itself is over 14 km long and has been visited for over 300 years. It is home to the largest cavern in Belgium and has a very tourist friendly pathway winding through it. Every now and then you can catch glimpses of the river responsible for carving out this cave. The water is so clear and still that you almost don't realise it is there. The tour started and we were a little confused because the guide was not speaking in a language that was familiar to us. About half way though he came over and questioned why we weren't listening to him and then made an effort to explain (in English) what we were seeing. Dad got into a few debates with the guide as to the finer points of the rock formations and at the end of the tour discussed things that we had not seen, at length. The guide even pulled out his phone to show Dad some pictures of areas of the cave that tourists cannot access.
Gemma and Amber were quite alarmed in several parts of the cave as the crazy Belgian cavers think that it is funny to hang huge fake spiders and cobwebs over various rocks. They also find coffins and skeletons engaging in everyday activities amusing and hide ghosts up abandoned stairwells. It made for some interesting bends; you never knew what you were about to walk into. In the entrance to the cave - your first impression - there was a coffin on the ground surrounded by red candles and tombstones with RIP. It was a creepy way to start. Then you move on and see the skeletons and then the ghosts. Towards the end we were all walking in single file over a bridge with lights and a voice singing up toward a table covered in a white cloth complete with candles. It looked as though we were going to a secret cult meeting. None of us were sure what was going to happen next: straight out of Charmed. In spite of this, the cave was definitely worth the visit. There was a brilliant light and music show. The tour ended with a cannon being sounded so that we could appreciate the acoustics of the cave.
Mum's highlight of the day was a pen of goats and donkeys. We saw another man feeding the donkey a croissant and so Mum raced around gathering leaves and enjoyed feeding them to the animals. Amber got some great pictures of the green teeth.
We emerged from the pathway from the cave into the main street that had been deserted earlier in the morning. It was now filled with people on their horses and accompanied by dogs. A barmaid was walking around offering shots of vodka to the people on horseback, and then a priest came out of the church and began to brush the horses with holy water, using what looked like a toilet brush, and sprinkle water on the dogs. We still have no idea what was going on here. We made it through the horses in one piece, avoiding the poo.
Next stop of the day was Brussels. We were welcomed by festive music and what looked to be a circus competition going on in the Grand Square. Mum, after talking to a local, found out that this was the 25th year of this event. This town has been designed with David in mind. It is completely full of chocolate shops. He was very happy here. We went to a cafe that had baguettes made to order, another great Dad recommendation. After lunch, we headed through the first-ever shopping arcade and entered at least four chocolate shops. The final stop was the Mannequin Pis, or pissing fountain. This is a highlight for Brussels, and is a small statue of a naked boy urinating into a fountain. For many years, all sorts of people, including various government officials have donated clothing for the small boy, and these items can be seen in the Brussels City Museum.
Currently we are in the hotel in Gent. This evening we plan to explore parts of the medieval town and hopefully find a good restaurant for dinner.