Did ya’ll know that nearly everything is closed on Sundays in Belgium? Perhaps I’ve been living in America too long, but I was really surprised by that. I found it a little strange for a nation that describes its churches as monuments to do so, but it provided the perfect opportunity to slow down and let the kids get to know their relatives with minimal distraction.
Day Four was spent at Oma’s apartment. The initial plan was to go for a family lunch, but a late breakfast at the hotel vetoed that idea. Instead, we talked, played cards, and snacked on sausage and cheese. As the DH’s mom and aunt speak limited English and the kids and I don’t speak Dutch, it was a sometimes comical affair. I distinctly remember seven year-old Blinky sitting with her grand aunt on the balcony firing off questions in rapid succession, to which her grand aunt could only reply with a smile, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
A serendipitous online search for kids’ activities in Gent on a Sunday, turned up Pretland. Think of it as Chuck E. Cheese on steroids. It was just around the corner so we thought we’d let the kids check it out to give the adults a break before dinner. Finding it was a bit of an adventure as it was located in an unmarked warehouse not visible from the street. Only after Google Maps insisted we were right on top of it, did we venture on a service road in the back and spot a minuscule sign that did indeed confirm we were in the right place.
There were quite a few kids, but so much to do there really wasn’t time to make friends. It was more side-by-side play, climbing, throwing, sliding, etc. Stinky and Blinky had a blast and were completely worn out after an hour and a half. Popsicles and frozen treats were super inexpensive so we filled up on those and headed back.
Less than 20 minutes later, we were headed back out to a neighborhood restaurant for the long awaited, proper Belgian family meal. Let me say, mealtimes in Belgium are an integral part of the social structure. Dinner especially endures for hours and it is not uncommon to spend an entire evening in a restaurant with family and friends as table turnover is a non-issue. That said, we had an enjoyable experience with my husband in the center as translator extraordinaire.
Check back tomorrow when I’ll recap our day in Brussels, including meeting a peeing boy!