Friday, June 8, 2012

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium

And it was!  The final day of our nine day concert tour planning trip was in Antwerp on Tuesday. After eight days of intensive travel, connections and visits to potential concert venues, we arrived in Antwerp.  We were told by people at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague that Antwerp had transformed itself since the year long ago when Allan studied there.  The day in Antwerp was a wonderful end to a very productive trip!

Although the city did look very different to him, Allan was able to take a tram out to the suburb and even walk to the house where he lived with a Flemish family.  The best night of our travels was the reservation Allan randomly made at a Coco-Mat hotel simply because a on-line review said it was a short walk from the train station pictured above.  You should really click on the CNN link about the Greek company who owns this hotel.  When we entered the lobby, it was set up with furniture, including a large bed and bunk beds for kids.  It looked more like a showroom than a hotel.  In fact, although it was our most expensive night's stay (130 euros), we took the elevator and opened the door to a two bedroom suite complete with kitchen, dining/living room, and a bath and a half, all furnished with furniture and linens manufactured by Coco-Mat.  Wished we had had family there to enjoy the expansive accommodations. Never in a million years were we expecting this in a European hotel. The company has gotten into the hotel business by partnering with hotels that fill their rooms with all natural furniture made by Coco-Mat.  Great marketing strategy!  It was truly the best night's sleep I have ever had (12 hours), which I'll attribute to the fabulous bed and luxurious bedding and not lack of sleep prior to this night.
The next morning, we discovered the great bicycle system in Antwerp.  From the hotel, we received a card for 3 euros each that enabled us to swipe at bike racks throughout the city.  You ride thirty minutes, park the bike, and then pick up another bike.  The best stop for Allan was a Frituur'tsteen near the harbor (french fries with mayonaise)! And, talk about real bike paths. . .traffic lights just for bikes and pedestrians and motorists all look out for anyone on a bicycle. Missed this when, inspired, we rode our bikes to MYA yesterday!
Oh, and did I mention the huge chocolate fountain in the train station selling the best chocolate covered strawberries I've ever had?  Then, the r&r was over, and we were on a fast train to Paris to take a plane back to the States.

I didn't blog while we were gone; too busy a schedule, and it was easier to post a few photos on MYA's Facebook Page.  Check back for more to come as we introduce more details of our June 2013 concert tour plans.

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