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Antwerp

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We stepped off the train in Antwerp, into a most delightful station. It’s not surprising that this was the site of ‘do re mi’ flash mob, check it out on youtube. I therefore took it for granted when someone asked the kids to participate in a ‘photoshoot’: an ad for a new game sporting a precarious bridge.

Amsterdam is easy: just outside the train station, the zoo is on the right and aquarium straight ahead. The town square and a couple of other interesting museums within walking distance. The aquarium has a shark or two and surprises with the awesome use of space and emphasis on environmental issues complete with tortoise rehabilitation centre. One point of criticism: the aquarium does not have a vestiaire, pretty strange?

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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Han-sur-Lesse, Belgium

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On 18 February winter hibernation draws to a close in the caves and the wildlife sanctuary in Han-sur-Lesse, about two hours drive South East of Brussels. Take in a lovely day’s outing to the heart of the Ardennes. Start in the town centre where half-hourly shuttles take you to the Wildlife Sanctuary or the Caves of Han.

The Wildlife sanctuary spanning 250 hectares is home to many species formerly indigenous to this area and others in need of a home. Obelix would have been delighted at the sight of wild boar. You can also see deer, wild cats, lynx, highland cattle, stag, roe deer, aurochs, European bison and Przewalski’s horses in this timeless landscape. Fascinating geological activity must have been at work here to develop these valleys and disappearing rivers, not to mention the network of caves beneath your feet.

Take the 100-year old tram which takes you to a subterranean wonderland at a constant 13 degrees. Stalactites and stalagmites and curtains of limestone are hundreds of years old and archeological evidence suggests man has been fascinated with this site for thousands of years. Tours are available in French and English. As a next to last stop there is a sound and light show in one of the large chambers. The entire walk spans about 3km (5 miles) and takes a little under two hours. The exit is close to the town and the speleogame – join the interactive hunt with detectives, also available in English and suitable for children of all ages! Then enjoy the huge outdoor play and picnic area with domesticated animals including rabbits, donkeys, goats and horses. Or enjoy a meal in one of the many cozy looking restaurants on the main street. The museum is located here as well as a number of souvenir shops selling interesting ‘artifacts’.

If you haven’t had enough, arrange to spend the night in the cabin adjoining the bears’ den. Start your adventure with a spot of spelunking, exit in the sanctuary where you’re treated to a barbeque at the old tram stop with a view second to none. Spend the night far from civilization in close proximity to the bears. Sounds exciting!

Book online on http://www.han-sur-lesse.be and get more information as well as fascinating tidbits about the birth of European Bison, lynx and the re-introduction of species unique to this area.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Cool stuff in the photography class…

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The assignment was to take some pics with slow shutter speed and then we did some messing around with the flashlight….

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Some old scanned negatives

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A motley collection of all kinds of photographs, pre-digital era! South Africa, France, UK, Peru, Spain, USA, Malawi, Zimbabwe… I was trying to link to my gallery on http://www.viewfinders.be once again I feel my technical shortcomings…

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

The Battle of Waterloo

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The annual re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo is in mid-June.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Fantastic Museum

The Fantastic Museum

It’s a flight into the weirdest fantasy and I have to wonder at the creative minds who have built the flying dinosaur swooping down to attack or the foetus in formaldehyde sucking at an energy drink through a straw. My favourite is the insight into the robot’s inner workings where it met its demise by breaking in two: jeans intact but robotic intestines overflowing. There is a Bluebeard-like refuge with female heads stored in glass bottles. I am everywhere all at once: on a Star Wars set, inside the vilest fairy tale, living my worst nightmare or my most futuristic dream come true? A keen eye and a bit of time are needed to spot all the goings-on in this three-storey converted home ,and an annex, in the heart of Brussels.

Posters are for sale depicting the Africa Museum in Tervuren with menacing crocodiles in the lake, or the Atomium where each sphere represents a stage in reproduction, who pops out but Mannekin Pis. If you want to purchase any of these, do so on site because the museum is divided into two sections, a short walk away onto an adjoining street. Halloween must be quite a site as the witches gather for ‘monster juice’ and to pass their exams for the witch’s certificate. In fact, this test is accessible to all. Everything is explained at the entrance, there are a couple of tasks to fulfil, one of which is to count the skulls dotted about the rooms, another is a touchy-feely test involving groping around in a box and identifying, among other things, body parts. Once you have solved all the macabre riddles, you can pick up your diploma qualifying you as witch.

Check opening times on their website http://www.maisonbizarre.be/ as the museum seems to be run entirely by volunteers and, in particular, the curator’s passion for the weird and wonderful. Opening hours are extended for special occasions like Halloween or Christmas as the worst gifts from Father Christmas go on display (open in December on Saturday and Sunday afternoons). Certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Photos and copyright by Olivia de Vos. First published in the Brussels Weekly

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Normandy

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Imagine just being on a suicide mission to get Hitler out of France, the allies just sent in masses and masses of soldiers, no tactics no nothing, just sheer force of numbers, eventually some of them would make it through!  That’s the idea I got at Omaha beach anyhow, not in the states, the coast of Normandy, and lots of other interesting little tidbits to see,  like the castle of William the Conqueror in Caen, the famous tapestries in Bayeux, d-day beaches, Mont st-Michel… and the Normandy Bridge, what a surprise, I never thought one could describe a bridge as being beautiful…

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2010 in Uncategorized