I've been wanting to swing by here and write of these crazy-beautiful days filled with old and new friends. There was a house full of a guests, a party, a pre-opening visit to Antwerp's new Red Star Line Museum, and all kinds of other things too.
It all began on the weekend before last really. There was a family photo-shoot in the park, with a few of the results in the posts that follow this one. Dimitris and Donal called over too ... gifting us an exquisite Greek white wine and the very finest Greek λουκούμι or loukoumi. We have all been enjoying dipping into that box on a daily basis.
Friday was the day it was all happened. Julie and Sara jetted in from Lisbon in Portugal, while Shannon and Erik rode over from Holland on 'the bike'. Old friends, family, and new friends ... our house was full and overflowing with laughter, wine and much conversation.
Saturday was all about last minute prep for a small party but after a visit to my favourite Spanish wine shop, we ended up having a vertical tasting of what might my most loved red wine so far - a Valduero Crianza from Ribera Del Duero. Divine it was and Sara gifted us all a 2004, 2005 and 2009, and photographed the tasting too.
The party was fun. I was disorganised and it was all about 'last minute' but never mind. There were more than 15 of us in the end and, as always, conversation and laughter ruled the hours we were all together.
Sunday and Gert and I were out the door, having accepted our pre-opening invitation to wander through the Red Star Line Museum. I think that anyone coming to Antwerp should take the time to visit this superb museum. I moved between tears caught in the back of my throat somwhere and a strange anger. It is a superb museum, one that captures the stories of those Red Star Line European immigrants so beautifully. The anger was born out of the knowledge that politicians, the world around, spend so much time trying to stop people moving and make 'their citizens' fearful of this very human action.
Freedom of movement ... immigration, whatever, is a necessary part of being human. People have moved since the beginning of time. The story of it all unfolds so convincingly there in that impressive museum.
Ludo Van Campenhout is the Belgian politician who fought hard for this museum, working constantly towards it over the years, and he deserves so much praise now that all he imagined, and more, has come to pass.
But then Sara returned to Paris, and Shannon and Erik rode off at the end of the day. Julie stayed though and we have all kinds of adventures planned for the days and weeks ahead. It's so good to have family here for a while. All of us kiwis here in the house are enjoying her presence.
And I fly again soon ... as Julie's traveling companion. Back to Milan but, for first time ever, I won't be stopping in Genova. We're heading for Verona, Trieste, Senj, Lake Bled, Budapest and Vienna.
So yes ... let's see what stories unfold during those days on the road.