Monday, 30 September 2013

On the road again

Tomorrow, it's time to fly from my lovely Belgian whanau who always welcome me into their life when I turn up on their door stoop. I don't like goodbyes, not too good at saying them, especially those early morning ones. Tomorrow morning will be the goodbyes as Di and I disappear on the bus for the airport for our flight to Milan where a car will be waiting.

I've had some more driving practice, a trip to Spa that didn't end well. In fact it didn't begin well and only the middle bit had a few nice happenings. Like running into a restaurant and asking the poor waiter if I could use the loo before I ordered. I was that desperate and could only hope he understood my hurried New Zealandish. He laughed, pointed in the direction and off I ran. All was well when I was seated with a salmon bagel and espresso in the sun.

On the way to Spa, actually just down the road, the road works began. The exit I needed was blocked by steamrollers and the like so I just had to keep on going and take the detour. The poor satnav was very patient as I changed what she asked me to do. I apologised. So arriving at Spa over an hour later than expected wasn't ideal. I had also left about an hour later than I had expected, I slept in. Looking at the time, I figured I had a bout 90 minutes for a spa. Thank goodness I didn't book that massage as it took me almost that to find where I supposed to spa. Not enough time to do other than note where it was.

Oh well, it was a nice relaxing day out enjoying a part of Belgium I hadn't visited before so I made a mental note to do it properly next visit. The cable car up the side of the hill was fun, worth it for the view. Off I set for Antwerp, enjoying the countryside and yes, the road works were on both sides so a slow drive to the ring road. And that's where it stopped, 17 kms from Di's place, just about the time I had to get the car back to the rental company. A long while later, thoughts of picking up Di abandoned, I reset the satnav at the lights and headed for the rental company.

I was feeling a little smug, until she said, "you have reached your destination."

Mmmm no, not really. Maybe I was nearby? I drove on around the corner and found a park. A miracle in Friday rush hour Antwerp. I saw why it was there a moment later. It was the police station, the place all the police cars get to park. I looked slightly out of place. Still relatively calm, I called the rental company. You know the drill, what country are you in madam? With no power left on my phone, I managed to talk to someone who knew where to go so reset the satnav and off I went on a wild goose chase while the satnav was silent trying to sort out where I was in relation to where I should be.

It ended rather badly, I lost my cool and shouted at Di who was trying to help and, as we would say in New Zealand, totally packed a paddy. Not helpful that I was once again needing the loo, badly. I could see where I thought I needed to be but there were bollards in the way. I wasn't sure this car, despite being a rental, could jump those with a single bound. So, feeling teary and desperate, I asked a nice young lady if she could help. Help she did and off I went, left across rush hour traffic dodging cyclists, buses and trams then left again and into the parking garage.

Luckily the rental people were closed, I'm not sure how polite I'd have been and it wasn't really their fault. All's well that ends well, the tram arrived and off I went back to Di's place. I had to apologise and eat a small piece of humble pie, admitting that I had indeed experienced the terrible traffic that is the Antwerp ring road, the worst in the world according to this.

Driving to Verona tomorrow might just be easier than that, I certainly hope so. Once more Airbnb have come to the party with some good accommodation in all our stops on our 8 day whistle stop road trip through Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Austria and back. Staying in peoples homes and apartments is a good way to meet the locals and get local knowledge for the important things, like where to eat, what to see and where to park the car.

There were no great photos of Spa so here's my last of the day, a welcome back to Antwerp. I love this camel and rider set high above the square by the railway station, both better ways to travel here I suspect.

No comments: