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Up and Atom, Fallout Boy!

So the day arrived of the main event. We had travelled over specifically to attend the Brugse Beer VII event. Funnily enough, the seventh iteration of an annual event in Bruges. However it’s not named after beer. It’s named after a bear. What? Well it’s Flemish here, so beer is bear not beer, because beer is bier, not beer. The bear is the symbol of the city of Bruges. And beer is also a symbol of Bruges too, but not the symbol of Bruges. That’s a bear, which is a beer if you’re Flemish. I’m getting confused now. Let’s move on.

Event day started with breakfast at our hotel. Technically, I suppose it started with getting out of bed and getting dressed, but you know what I mean. The hotel breakfast was a fairly modest affair of the continental variety, including cheeses, cooked meats, bread and a few cereals, but it was also of the “unlimited” kind, so Ami did her best to eat them out of mini pains-au-chocolate while I had a crack at some bread rolls with pâté and then croissants with chocolate flavoured honey. Nice! It felt a bit expensive at €12 a pop, but then I realised I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, and I wasn’t going to get a filling breakfast for both of us anywhere else for less than €24, so fair enough. It had the advantage of not needing to go out, anyway.

One-Day Eventing

From here we headed off to the event. I took the car up and we arrived plenty early at about 9 am, although the car park was already three-quarters full. I think they were doing a welcome breakfast, so obviously a few people turned up early enough for that. They were only just getting the event stalls set up when we arrived.

We picked up our goody bags and realised that we’d actually just got a bunch of tickets for going elsewhere. One-stop was to get a GPX file downloaded onto my GPS that contained all the new caches they were releasing for the event. These were also printed in the event book, of which we obtained two copies in “Engels, dank u wel.”

From here we wandered through the event site finding the locations of a few of the lab caches and the cafe. We had a quick nosey around the various geocoin shops. The event was being held at the very nice looking VIVES Hogeschool Campus in Bruges, which was about a kilometre from our hotel. The weather was rather warmer than the previous day, and I was glad I’d picked up my hat.

Lab O’Clock

The lab caches were quite good fun, partly because of the variety and partly because the physical ones were quite creative. One involved completing a circuit on one of several variations of mad cycles, with either eccentric wheels or dodgy pedal configurations. Another involved the proverbial curly-wire-with-electrical-contacts game. Yet another involved finding the one and only stuffed bear in a heap of 500 or so stuffed toys. A couple of others involved solving or doing things printed in the event book, so we completed those whilst sitting down mid-morning with a refreshing drink. On the day we managed to obtain the answers to 13 of the 19 they’d set. I won’t say we “solved” 13, let’s just say that we acquired 13 answers by various means. Norfolk12 would have been proud. Ami enjoyed the daft bikes though.

After we’d had our drink we schmoozed a bit further and met up with a family from our Beds, Bucks and Herts area who were attending the same event. We also bumped into a bunch of cachers from Essex that we’d met the previous day in Adinkerke, and a Flemish couple we’d also met in Adinkerke, and the German guy who’d been biking around the same series we drove around the previous afternoon. Small world, innit?

Is It Lunchtime Yet?

At some point I noticed also that the GPX file hadn’t downloaded correctly onto my Garmin, so we went back for another go, and this second time they managed to get it sorted.

We’d also spent quite a while walking up and down the car park collecting trackable numbers. Might as well. There are some challenge caches that require you to have logged a certain number. Otherwise I’m not really bothered, especially when the CO has just put a list of codes in the back window of their car. It’s just as well there’s LogThemAll to help out with bulk logging too, otherwise I just wouldn’t have the patience.

Back at the plot, it had worked its way around to being lunchtime. We grabbed the traditional Belgian snack of frietjes met mayonnaise from the lard wagon and sat on the grass. The lard wagon in question was staffed by members of a local motorcycle gang, apparently. They did good chips.

Let’s All Go on a Tupperware Hunt

After lunch, we decided it was time to break free from the event and do a bit of caching. We went for a walk around to the north of the event site, collecting about 7-8 caches on the way, and then noticed that a lot of the new caches for the event were in the Sint Michiels district, just north of our hotel. We’d both had enough of walking the previous day so we decided to drive around Sint Michiels collecting some of the caches. It was quite easy-going. Basically, every time we saw a bunch of people standing in the street, we stopped and signed the log. I think we did about 13 that way.

A Night on the Town

By the time we’d done a few of those it was getting quite late and we had an appointment up in the old town to find the information for another of the Lab Caches, so we got ourselves cleaned up and poshed up (a bit) and caught a bus “up the toon”. We completely failed to register the necessary information about buses back again, but more of that later.

There was general apathy about what to do for dinner and we’d agreed we weren’t doing any more caching. We’d been at it hammer and tongs for most of two full days. So we wandered around a bit and I took a few photos in the still-lovely evening sunshine. We ended up in another restaurant on Waalplein, just over from where we’d eaten the previous night. It was a fairly basic affair. Basic meant a little cheaper though, so I wasn’t bothered apart from the fact that they didn’t take credit cards. They cleaned me out of cash. We both had lasagne, I think, then Ami had a pudding while I sampled another beer (bier, not bear).

Rick Shaw

It wasn’t quite dark when we’d finished, so we legged it off to the station in search of a bus, only to find (as ever) that all the day buses had finished and the first of the hourly night buses had just left (it was literally waiting at the traffic lights in a place we couldn’t get to safely). So this time rather than going for a motorised taxi again we saw some bike taxis. Basically, posh-looking rickshaws. The driver (rider/pilot/whatever) offered us a relatively reasonable price for the journey back home. In fact, he managed to get us back before the night bus would have because the night bus goes quite literally around the houses.

It was still, still light when we got back, but we were planning a busy day on Sunday, so we went straight off to bed to grab some ZZZZZZs.

The caches we found over the course of the day were :