When Rupelmonde Throws a Party

Fireworks, Rupelmonde, Festival

One big part of summer in Belgium are festivals, village celebrations (kermis is the name they give to it in Flanders) and all sorts of small scale events. Our neighborhood here in Rupelmonde is not left out of the traditions, they throw a party called Schellekensfeesten. That event took place last weekend.

What on earth is a kermis then? Well, for Rupelmonde it means a bit of everything. There is a flea market on the streets, small amusement park, gigs, fireworks and beer, waffles and fries. An event for everybody as long as the weather ain’t too bad, I should say.

Well, since we happened to not have any plans to go anywhere that weekend we decided to take part in the festivities. We prepared a BBQ and invited a friend over. He was going to the Lokerse feesten but would have a bit of time to share with us too. Great!

Guy arrived with his Merc half full of beer. Powered by the beers we smoked half of our house, ate and headed out for some more beers and adequately bad music. The towns people started to all gather around and the warm summer evening had a nice atmosphere to it.

Before we let Guy leave for the Lokerse feesten we walked round the festival area and found the bumper cars! There was this warm childish feeling awaking in us and before I knew it, Waffle had gone and bought all of us a couple of rounds in those cars. Oh dear, the poor actual children who dared to join the fun. We all went a little mad, hitting every car we managed to catch. It had been a loong time since I last did something like that, and afterwards my cheeks hurt because the maniac smile I was wearing. I hope I didn’t leave too bad nightmares to anybody.

We were left just by the two of us since Guy had gone to enjoy Slayer, rather than slager. It was nice to see our sleepy little town wake up and have a party. More people were starting to gather for the main event of the evening. There was fireworks in the program. We searched our way out of the crowd (as a good hermit should) and found our spot right at the dam of Schelde. We weren’t expecting much from the show. Rupelmonde is a very small town after all, but we were pleasantly surprised. The pyro people had managed to put up quite a show that lasted probably a half an hour covering the whole town in gunpowder smoke and bits of ash.

By the time the fireworks were done, the people had had enough time to find their way to the beer and back a few times and were soundly feeling the vibes of traditional slager, which the bar next door to us was willingly blasting out of its loudspeakers. There was a happily swaying mass of people singing along less than accurately on our street. It was a hellish job to get to sleep with that.

 

Sunday came. Some of the people of Saturday were still there. The flea market had given way to people showing their traditional professions of handcrafts and the streets were paraded by giants and marching bands and people in  fancy costumes. Yes, you read correctly, giants.

There is that odd tradition in Flanders of building giant dolls that are then paraded through streets with every possible occasion. Also a marching band might be added. The most famous one from Rupelmonde seem to be the one picturing the map maker Mercator. Quite a fancy doll it is at that. The parading tradition has been added to the UNESCO cultural heritage list too. I am yet to discover why this is going on.

After all that marching, singing and drinking the buzz of the people was calming down. After all, it was Sunday and many were looking at a working day ahead of them. The bar next door decided not to care and played, not slager, but 90′ dance hits well into the night with a large bunch of people cheering them on. Again, not the optimal sleeping conditions, but we managed. And after such a nice weekend at home, I am willing to give in to some discomfort.

Next weekend we are finally leaving home. Off to Les Hemmes again, to try and survive alive yet another buggy session!

 

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A Belgian Beer Festival

Just as we waved good byes to my parents, our minds were already turned to the next destination. That would be the yearly event of the Zythos Beer festival in Leuven. That has somewhat formed to be a tradition for us. It is the perfect place to go find new beers and get to know new breweries. At this point, I must remind you, that there is a large difference between the German style beer festival and the Belgian style beer festival. In Belgium, you drink several different beers form a glass of 1 deciliter, rather than pint after pint of a beer.

Neither of us was feeling like staying sober for the night and driving home. So we packed the tent into our car, with plenty of blankets, since the night was going to be cold. They even forecasted snow in the east and south of Belgium. The plan was to camp on the lawn of Waffles work, which happens to be right on the corner of the festival hall.

By the time we arrived, quite some beer had already been flowing to those small glasses. We heard the cheer of someone breaking their glass clear, loud and on regular pacing. The hall smelled malty, sweaty and sweet. Not quite as bad combination as one might think. To most Belgians, I guess, it is a sign of a nice party with good beer.

The beer stand of Timmermans brewery was the first to catch our attention. That was a good choice, they poured us a dark glass of Bourgogne des Flandres, which we fell in love with. Very nice, not too sweet, warmly brown liquid that was. Yum. We met some other nice tastes too. Delirium red is my new favorite of cherry beers, at least for the summer to come, and an interesting taste combination of chocolate and coffee in a quadruple was found from the Inglorious brew stars.

There are other things to a beer festival than just beer. The event is often international. This time we met people from Argentina, and old couple from USA, on a trip through Europe. Even an English guy, who had been studying in Finland. And loads of others. The best part is, that after a few beers, people start talking to people they do not know. Add a couple of more beers, and they’ll start singing schlager. You decide for yourselves whether this is a good thing or not.

The beer serving stopped at half past 10 in the evening, and the hall started to wonder out. Surprisingly lot of people headed for their camper vans, parked right outside the hall. Our destination was our tent, couple of hundred meters further. Morning rose with a hefty hangover, at least we knew, that the evening had been a success.

So very sorry about the quality of the pictures. We replaced the camera with a potato… 

An accident, a surprise, a weekend

Polder, Belgium, Road

Last Friday we were having our every now and then occurring evening walk. Nothing special about that. We have a nice small flooding area next to our village, where you often see some wild life, so we like to go there.

This evening it was as peaceful as ever, during the sunset. We were walking on the edge of the towns and villages that lines the area, as we heard some music. That were the sweet tones of Ace of spades and Blitzkrieg Bop. Covered versions of course, but well done at that. We grew curious, and started to aim towards the music. Admiring a deer and a hunting heron on the way.

We climbed on top of the dam that separates the nature area from the rest of the world and saw a tent, just at the same moment when the tones of the punk stopped. We were puzzled on what was the occasion. True to Belgian style, it was rather difficult to find any relevant information of what was happening only by googling. after a few minutes we did manage to find out that the thing actually was Deistelrock. A small festival held in Bazel every year. It was evident, that the summer of Belgian village festivals was here, once more!

We had to take part to that. As we strolled into the tent in our trainers and hiking boots we found a modest crowd of around 100 people. The stage was occupied by a band of youngsters, covering Foo Fighters, under the name of In Your Honor. Not quite exactly what we were hoping for, but at least the singer was on top of his tasks.

It didn’t take long for the stage to be taken over by punk again, surprisingly we got to enjoy the show of the Belgian punk legend, Funeral Dress. That name is known even in Finland! Our evening was wrapped up by Bizkit Park, covering you know which bands. They managed to bring the small crowd into party mode. Even dancing right in front of the stage was witnessed!

We strolled out of the festival well past midnight. Both slightly tipsy and heading for a walk of a few kilometers to get back home. That was freshingly nice surprise for our Friday evening. We had loads of fun, even though there were no masses of people, it was eventually a good party.

Saturday came with a hangover and neck pain, thanks to head banging. So it was just a perfect day to go and stare at yourself in the mirror of a fitting room. Our once a year visit to the Outlet village in Maasmechelen was upon us, and we even managed to buy normal-people-clothing, meaning clothing you wear outside of nature. Oddly enough.

This Saturday was not over without another party. A New Wave party to be exact. Something completely new and weird for me. You know, people dressed in black, with eyes lined with black, the average age around 50. And the music, something with a bass beat to it and loads of laser.

Oh, the weekend was not over yet. On Sunday we decided to treat my hangover (Waffle hadn’t got any, lucky bastard) by having a walk with Hachi, the dog. The weather was absolutely beautiful, so we headed for the polder lands. Walking at the edges of the canals that run through the fields. We even managed to spot turtles in one of the streams. Apparently someone has released their pet turtle, or few, and now they are living wild in the nature, killing all the fish. After 15 kilometers of hangoverish wobbling I was tired as ever. Happy too though.

Rather a nice weekend again, even though we only stayed more or less at home. This was a good collection of some of the reasons why I like living in Belgium. You can perfectly stumble on a festival by accident, since they are happening during summer time in every single village. And right around the corner you find peaceful countryside where you can take your hangover to freshen up. Place like this is not a bad one to be. Now starts the preparations for my parents’ visit. They’ll be coming over on Saturday.

Oh deary me.