When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Belgian Treffen

The Belgian Treffen was held in a recreation center in Belare, Belgium.  On the way there we stopped for a day in Bruges.  A world famous center of lace making and a medieval town known as the "Venice of the North".  It is a fine town to walk around in, crossing bridges and strolling down small lanes lined with shops selling lace and tapestries.






There are two main kinds of lace here, bobbin lace which is made with dozens of bobbins wound with thread that are twisted together in intricate patterns to create the lace and ribbon lace where ribbons are laid out in a curving pattern and their edges sewn together.  The display case to Kathy's left has ribbon lace in the top of it.  Bobbin lace is very expensive, but it is also much more beautiful.

We also visited the Diamond Museum and learned about the history of diamonds and this area.  The Dutch and Belgians have controlled the diamond cutting industry for several centuries.  We saw a demonstration, on real diamonds, of diamond cutting and polishing.

Then we visited the Chocolate Museum.  Other than diamonds this area also has a rich history of chocolate making.  And here they handed out free samples (unlike the Diamond Museum)!

The weather has been rainy and cold with considerable wind.  We have been staying in a very cheap hotel chain called Formula 1.  It is like the McDonald's of hotels.  You know what you're going to get, it is the same everywhere and the quality is basic, but the price is low too.

Then it was on to the Treffen.





We checked in and rode over to the camping area, where it started to snow!  It didn't last long and we set up camp and went over to the large tent with the merchants selling chrome, motorcycle clothing, and various goodies for your bike.  We went to the large hall where the food, bar and bandstand were.  








We met and talked with several friends from Portugal, England, Holland, and made new contacts in France and Hungary.  From the left there are Maria and Jose from Evora, Portugal and Lesley and Peter from London.  They are the International Representatives for their clubs and friends from last year's trip.  Both of these fine couples, as well as our Dutch friend, Dirk and Hetty have provided us with a room in their homes.  They are not the only ones and we have greatly appreciated the generosity of them all.  Meeting and visiting with local Gold Wingers is one of the highlights of our travels here.



After dinner, and the band and dancing we all went to bed and rested for the parade on Saturday.

This is not an American style parade where we ride slowly through town and wave at the people lining the streets.  This is more like a "poker run".  We rode as one group of 300+ motorcycles for a hundred kilometers (65 miles) through the countryside.  We rode through a dozen towns and alongside rivers.  We rode on 4 lane expressway and cobbled lanes barely wide enough for one car.  We had a police escort and we ran red lights and stop signs.  All traffic was halted at cross streets and we didn't stop for anything until we got to the town of St. Nicklass where we parked in the central plaza for a couple hours to wander the town and eat lunch.


Our bike is the last one on the right in the last row, we were at the end of the parade.  After lunch we returned to the Treffen site for the evening's entertainment of music and dancing.

The next day (Sunday) was clear, sunny and COLD!!  We headed to the main building for more visiting and looking at accessories for the bikes.

The sun didn't last long and by mid-afternoon we had more rain and wind.




Then that evening we had the awards ceremony.  Awards are handed out for several categories of which the most watched is the one for the most points.

The GoldWing European Federation (GWEF) sanctions the Treffens of each of the member country's clubs.  Each country holds a Treffen and invites all the other country's Gold Wingers to it.  Each country's club gets points for how far they travelled and how many bikes were there, multiplied together.  There is no American GWEF sanctioned club so we are members of the Gold

Wing Clube de Portugal.


We (the Portuguese) came in sixth with five bikes.  At this time on Sunday night only (from right to left) Maria, Jose, myself and Kathy are left there to accept the award.








On Monday morning we all had to leave, but the weather was worse.  This is view out of our tent (I told you it was COLD!!!).  The smart ones left yesterday!  We packed and left too.  The roads were bare and wet and safe for travel.

During our stay here we had all the weather.  We arrived in light snow, then had heavy wind, rain, sleet, fog, sun, frost, blue sky, fluffy clouds, thunder storms and an inch (2.5 cm.) of snow to end it.  We headed for Brussels and another Formula 1 hotel.

All in all we had a good time.



In Brussels we went first to see the symbol of the city, the Manneken Pis.  He supposedly put out the fuse on a bomb that had been tossed into the city in a war long ago.  That made him a hero and a symbol of the city.  Although he wasn't wearing one today, he has an entire wardrobe of outfits that have been donated by countries and cities from around the world.  They are kept in a museum in the town square that was unfortunately closed that day.
















The square was built in the late 1600's when this area dominated the seas and the spice trade with the far east.  The church on the left has hundreds of statues all around its walls.  What looks like two rows of columns, one above the other, are actually larger than life-size statues.







The other buildings are Guild Halls, owned and built by the various craftsmen, each trying to outdo the next (back in the late 1600's).  This is the top of the building in the center of the picture above, on the far side of the square, just to the right of the church.  It looks like the stern of one of the Dutch East India Company's sailing ships.











We wandered the narrow streets of the old town.  Had a beer in the Brewer's Museum and another in the tavern called the Delirium Tremens who holds the Guinness Book of Records title for the most different beers for sale in any one place in the world, 2004 different beers!!!

In a small niche, behind a wrought iron barrier was Jeanekke Pis.  The female version of the more famous statue.  I know nothing of the history or reason for it, but in the interest of "equal rights" I have included it.  It was to the side of a small dead-end alley with only her name on the sign.













We went back to the hotel in light snow and woke up the next morning to 4" (10 cm.) of it.  We waited until the last moment before check out and then headed for France.








On the way we stopped and toured the Atomium.  A symbol of the 1958 World's Expo.  (Like the Space Needle is left over from the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle, Washington, USA.)  It was more interesting from the outside than the inside and not worth the nine Euros each to walk around inside it.

It is supposedly an atom enlarged a bit.

There are escalators and stair cases leading up to the big  central sphere, an an elevator that will take you to the observation platform at the very top.













There are rather small windows to look out of but I did find where I parked the bike.  It is front of the blue car in the lower right of the picture.  The snow is left over from last night's storm.  There were thunder cells moving through the area all day.  We left the Atomium and rode to France and Canada.  Yes, we visit Canada today, on the bike, without the benefit of a plane or ship!