Friday Sept 27 in Oudenaarde, East Flanders

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 27th, 2013

I had a bit of housekeeping to do. Updating my bank details on PayPal took a good two hours of back and forth. I talked on the telephone to my longtime business friend, whose warehouses are across the water from where I was moored in Ghent. He had to attend a funeral of one of his employees.  So, I did not get going till noon. The very first time I visited Belgium was with my parents in the summer of 1951, I was 14. We were vacationing on the Zeeland island of Walcheren. We took the ferry from Vlissingen/Flushing to Terneuzen and rode our bicycles to Ghent along the very same canal  I traveled on yesterday. I never forget the view from far away of the tall church towers in Ghent.

Magnificent churches. Jacques Brel sings about them. But much has changed since 1951. I never ever got a glimpse of them this time. The canal is lined with tall grain elevators, power plants, refineries, etc. But at 14 I was fascinated. The next year, at 15, on spring break, I hitchhiked through Belgium and that was most likely the seed that was laid for my solo wanderings. That summer I hitchhiked to Italy. And before I emigrated to the U.S.A. at 19 I had visited Italy thrice and another 12 European countries.

It was another gorgeous day. Sunny and warm, but a cool breeze. There was a long line up at one of the three locks I went through today. Oudenaarde is a typical medieval town with a tall cathedral tower and a city hall on the main market place similar to the one on the Brussel’s Grand Place. I have left the flat Dutch and West Flanders country behind and am now in the lovely rolling hills of the area I fell in love with when we lived south of Brussels in the late sixties. I am in touch with Corrine and hope to be able to train to Leuven this weekend. I am on a mission to try and check out one possible lead to find Rose Marie’s biological mother, along my route, possibly tomorrow.

 

Leave a Comment