29 Aug 2012 – Historically Prominent Art City

Mechelen pop 81,927 in an area of 13.02 sq mi/33.71 km2 lies on the major urban and industrial axis Brussels-Antwerp, app 25km from each city. Inhabitants find employment at Mechelen’s southern industrial and northern office estates, as well as at offices or industry near the capital and Zaventem Airport, or at industrial plants near Antwerp’s seaport.

This is an exciting and interesting town, notably a centre for artistic production during the Northern Renaissance with a lovely City Hall.

Around 1200 started the building of the cathedral that is dedicated to St Rumbold at Grote Markt/Large Market square.

Palace of Margaret of Austria while as regent of the Netherlands still raising the latter Charles Quint, then for centuries the Supreme though now a lower Court of Justice.

The Palace of Margaret of York when widowed of Charles the Bold, now the City Theatre; the oldest renaissance building north of the Alps.

Tue: random pix from Mechelen.

How coincident is this, Kathrine, Emily & Melvin are also visiting from KCH. Kiefer is here skpying with his grandmom Lily in KCH… the wonders of high-tech where audio and video are easily available FOC and family brought closer!

A yummy dinner at Restrauant Veilinghof***in Kampenhout to end this delightful stay here in Belgium. Will be off again to catch the flight back to OSL after sunrise today.  A million thanks to Angelina, Kurt and Kiefer for everything and hope to see them either in SIN or KCH early 2013.

The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls – John Muir

Once Upon a Time

27 Aug 2012 – in Blankenberge & Brugge

Sun: Sand Sculpture Festival in Blankenberge is a journey thru’ fairy-tales of the Disney World. The lights and the closeness of the indoor sculptures made it difficult to photograph. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and many of the other Disney characters were featured but could not get decent shots.


This festival is built by 40 professional sand artists from all around the globe. No less than 10,000 tons of sands was sculpted on an area of 4,000m² The Sand Sculpture Festival is officially the largest festival of its kind in the world (Guinness Book of Records 2010).

Sand castles in the air on this beautiful day are a delight to see.

Brugge is a historic city centre with most of its medieval architecture intact is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO since 2000.

Pageant of the Golden Tree (started in Brussels 1958 World Expo) happens only every 5yrs in Brugge  for commemoration of the festivities in 1468 on the occasion of the wedding of Charles The Bold, Count of Flanders and Duke of Burgundy with the English Princess Margareta of York. Was most fortunate to be an audience on a glorious afternoon. 

Fun to walk around admiring the town and meeting up with the pageant at different cross-roads. Ended the day with a Belgium stew for dinner by the concert hall with a public car park under the building. Appreciations to A&K for this exciting day.

We can appreciate but not really understand the medieval town. We cannot comprehend its compactness, the contiguity of all its buildings as a single uninterrupted whole – Arthur Erickson

6 Stations

26 Aug 2012 – To Mechelen Nekkerspoel/Belgium

Fri: dep Etourvy 0845hrs to catch train from Tonnerre to Bercy (EUR30 app S$47) changing to the Metro at Gare de Lyon, Bastille to Gare du Nord to catch another train to Bruvelles Midi/Belgium (EUR 59 S$93), connecting to a local train (EUR4.30 S$7) to arr in Mechelen Nekkerspoel at 1545hrs.

Not sure if all these cross-roads are good for the heart! Seeing and catching up with family and friends is what life’s journey is about at this stage but it would have been an advantage if one could speak and read the languages of the countries one is visiting. Looking forward is usually the best way to go. Tkx to Angelina for meeting me at the station, to Kurt for making Belgium national dish, yummy mussels with fries to Kiefer for his sweet smiles.

Sat: Antwerp is a city in the municipality and the capital of the Antwerp province of Flanders with a pop of 507,007. The weekend market was fun and the Antwerp wafer is eaten like a lollipop! There is even a Chinatown here where a dim-sum lunch at Fong Mei***(owners from Ipoh/Malaysia) was decent.

Bovis****in Zaventem, is a place for meat lovers! Had a Belgium fillet and it was tender and tasty but the service has much room for improvements! Good to catch up with Amy, Mike and Rachel who is growing up to be such a fine young lady.

A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large – Henry Ford

Citron 2CV

 24 Aug 2012 – A Ride and Walk to Remember…

Wed: hiking app 4hrs in the Etourvy agricultural surroundings and the nature with a fox. The only other person we met was a runner with 2 dogs. Can you imagine the excitement to discover that part of the Camino de Santiago/France section is a stone-throw from here!!! The weather was beautiful and so is the company.

Picturesque drive thru’ the champagne villages…

Lunched at Le Marius***in Ricey Bas, a quaint hotel & restaurant with half a bottle of Champagne Joffrey Josselin from this area.


To those who are as blessed as I and can remember the 2CVs, this was one of the best rides where everything were beyond expectations and perfect when heaven is certainly a place on earth here…

Thank you Keith for a memorable stay, rides, walks, yummy food, champagne, etc and for all his charming and gracious hospitality. Let’s hope that we will not have wait for another 30yrs before catching up again. Sorry to have missed Marianne who is in Denmark.

When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator – Mahatma Gandhi


21 Aug 2012 – Beauvais-Tonnerre

Sun: 1hr+ train ride from Beauvais, southbound to Paris/Gare de Nord connecting on the Metro to Bastille, Gare de Lyon and Bercy to catch another train and 1hr+ to Tonnerre, arriving 1726hrs (EUR38/S$60). Met by Keith at the station and 17km by car to Etourvy,( app 157km S from Paris) with a pop of 215  is in Aube in the Champagne Ardenne region of France.

Keith’s beautiful place is a 1787 barn converted to a summer country house  in the neighbourhood of the champagne district. Imagine to feast on champagne everyday for nearly a week in this place with a grand piano and a pool… 7th heaven is where I am now 🙂

Keith crossed my path in Dublin/late 1970s and only last year did we manage to locate our whereabouts! Those 30yrs of missing links, he has worked in France and Brazil and now lives in Switzerland with his Danish wife, Marianne and their adopted Brazilian son, Arthur. 

Keith has also published two books, Pipe Dreams & Crude Behaviour which are now on my list to be read before heading to Brussels on Fri…!!!

Took us 2 days to fill in the missing links! Tomorrow and Thu will be a tourist before heading on the train again!

No matter how carefully you plan your goals, they will never be more than pipe dreams unless you pursue them with gusto – W Clement Stone

A Cultural & Spiritual Day

18 Aug 2012 – In Beauvais/France

Beauvais, a city of 59,000 people, is located about 54 miles north of Paris in the Picardy region of Northern France, famous for its cathedrals, its role in World War I and its chateaux/castles. It is also known for its dairy and beef cattle.

S-Etienne/St Stephen’s Church is located outside the old Roman city walls in the area of the necropolis. This church progressed from Romanesque to the gothic style. These stained-glass windows are thought to be the works of the famous Le Prince family of master glazier.

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Beauvais/Cathedral of St Peter of Beauvais is an incomplete Roman Catholic cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Beauvais, Noyon and Senlis. It is, in some respects, the most daring achievement of Gothic architecture, and consists only of a transept (6thC) and choir, with apse and seven polygonal apsidal chapels (13thC), which are reached by an ambulatory.

Several of the chapels contain medieval stained glass windows made during the 13th thru’ 15th Cs.There is a medieval clock (14th-15thC), probably the oldest fully preserved and functioning mechanical clock in Europe, a highly complicated astronomical clock with moving figures was installed in 1866.

Le Musée départemental de l’Oise/Museum of the Oise Department is in the former Palace of the Bishops-Counts of Beauvais at the foot of the cathedral. This remarkable architectural, historical monument, has a 14thC gatehouse.

Galerie nationale de la Tapisserie/National Tapestry Gallery. For 3 centuries, Beauvais has been synonymous with the history of tapestry.

To be edited and updated with more pix…

Ode to Joy

16 Aug 2012 – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony

Wed: what a treat on one of this most beautiful evenings with the Oslo Filharmonien’s FOC outdoor performance across the road from the City Hall. The four vocal soloists with Donghwan Lee/baritone did excellent jobs with their parts. Was informed that this same piece was played last year with an audience of 10,000.

Last night must have been about the same or maybe even more ppl. We were early there for a picnic dinner and got seats on the benches with back support. Must have been tiring for the feet to be standing for over 1hr!!

Thank you Magnus for introducing Etoile Rooftop Bar, a lovely hide-away far from the maddening crowds. Delightful company and a night-cap with the sunset and night views of Karl Johans gt and the Parliament House ended this dreamy evening. Very best of luck to Magnus and hope that we can cross paths again somewhere in this world after he graduates from Handelshøyskolen BI/ School of Business.

Heading on to France tomorrow…

O friends, no more these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
more full of joy!

Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Thy sanctuary.

Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings… – Ode to Joy/Friedrich Schiller

Viking Ships

15 Aug 2012 – with Jane from Tassie!

En route to Spain via KUL-STN 22 Jul 2010 with many hours of layover and trying to kill time surfing online. Jane who also was en route connecting in STN to CPH asked if she could borrow the laptop. Checking her up and down, she seemed trustworthy and for me a chance for a restroom break without having to pack up. From then we also keep in contact via FB.

Tue: 2yrs later Jane (standing) & her Danish husband Anders (stripe-shirt) and another couple passed thru’ OSL and we finally got to meet up at the Viking Ship Museum, a museum highly recommended to visit. Appreciations to J&A for taking time to meet have a safe and wonderful holiday in Gol/Hallingdal, 4-5hrs drive from OSL.

Walked from Majorstuen to Vikingskipshuset/Viking ships house located on Bygdøy, app 1+hr walk. It was a glorious day to walk by Bygdøy allé (Embassy row with high walls!), pass the marinas (one can certainly see Norway as a seafarer and maritime nation!)…

Kongegård/king’s farm (view of and from the farm),

Norsk Folkemuseum/the outdoor museum and to the Viking ships.

The best preserved ship, Oseberg Ship was built app 820AD and was used as a burial ship for a powerful woman and her maidservant.

The Gokstad Ship was built app 890AD and used as a burial ship for a chieftain. Grave robbers have done much injustice to these ships and most of the valuable items were stolen.

Thanks to Kenson for the interesting link below.

Go you must. No guest shall stay in one place for ever. Love will be lost if you sit too long at a friend’s fire – from The Havamal or Book of Viking Wisdom


12 Aug 2012 – Nils Bays vei

Sat: tkx to Mette for a roof over the weekend while M&B are entertaining family with 2 children! Bidding farewell for now and capturing memories from our 1983 Ibiza trip. Appreciations to Mette for sharing the pix from then…

Nydalen is a neighbourhood in the Nordre Aker borough in northern OSL. Since the late 19th century Nydalen has been a largely industrial area. Beginning in the 1990s, it gradually transformed into a mix of lighter service industries and residential areas.

The relocation of the Norwegian School of Management (BI) to the area in 2004 also boosted the area’s development. In 2003, a new subway station opened. Many people have moved into new residential buildings in the late 2000s.

Akerselven/Akers River flows through OSL. It starts at Maridalsvannet in Oslomarka, and follows the urban areas Nordre Aker, Sagene, Grünerløkka, OSL centre and Grønland. The entire river is about 8.2km and has a difference in altitude of app 149m.

This river is OSL green lung and many parks and nature trails are to be found by its path. A walk from along this river from the rural Frysja down through the different parts of OSL all the way down to the city centre is an amazing experience and a walk through the history of OSL. After 150 years of industrial and sewage discharges along river, a local initiative to limit emissions and revive the flora and fauna started in the 1980s.

Interesting pub, graffiti, etc. Parts of the path is diverted due to constructions.

To Mette and Kirsten, blessed to have you both crossing life’s journey.

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one – Khalil Gibran


8 Aug 2012 – And Museum

The last time here was Oct 2008 with Kari where a most delicate guardian angel was a gift to guide and protect life’s journey. This time round last weekend with Mette&Sturla to see the museum which was missed out on the last trip. Also to experience a fish dinner at the Kokkestua Restaurant***

Hadeland Glassverk/Glassworks in Jevnaker is situated in serene surroundings on the banks of Lake Randsfjorden (app 1+hr drive NW of OSL ). Here one can experience Norwegian traditions, history and culture and see the latest trends and designs in glass. The 250yrs anniversary stamp is a klullflasker (designed in 1874) and the glasses to match/1876. Today the same design is still in available costing app NOK5,000/S$1,200 for the bottle and NOK700/S$146 for each glass.

Local designer Magne Furuholmen from pop-group a-ha/1982

The glass works is the oldest (since 1762) industrial company in Norway that can claim continuous operation since its foundation. With its 190 employees, the glass works today not only represent a large and thriving industry and boasts a significant historical and cultural heritage, whilst at the same time focusing on continuous development and new design and is thereby one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions.

You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul – George Bernard Shaw