Usually when I sit down to make a blog entry I set the kids to work on their worksheets until they finish and move on to watch some Olympics or an episode of their favorite, Bob l'eponge, on TV. Some of the entries have taken me over three hours to complete so the process is made even more enjoyable by sipping on one of the twenty+ varieties of beer I've had the opportunity to sample during our stay. At this pace, I may get through almost fifty different brews before we return and I must say I'm getting pretty spoiled.
On Tuesday, we got out of the flat to visit an indoor pool at the Complexe Sportif Poseidon. Now true Metro experts, we wasted no time in claiming a pole and riding the rails to the Tomberg area with our swim gear loaded into the backpack.
After struggling through the payment and entry procedure during which I was unable to get an answer as to what else was available at the complexe (it turned out to have an ice skating area, a climbing wall, some workout rooms, a gym and a martial arts center), I began to notice some signs informing me that swim caps were not optional wear...so we returned to the desk to purchase four of them. Once we muddled our way through the changing area, not quite sure we were ever following the right procedures in the in the right places, we crammed the latex caps onto our heads.
When we were finally ready to enter the pool area, a lifeguard approached to inform us in French that we weren't wearing proper swimsuits. Barely containing my frustration, we returned to the desk a third time to rent some of the tight lycra swimmers you see above that we were required to wear before getting wet. Yes, I wore the same get up (not pictured). Finally, we entered the actual pool area and begin to frolic until Xander's rapidly swelling eyes reminded us of his latex allergy. With all the commotion, I had failed to take that into account and he was in a lot of discomfort. Fortunately our fourth trip to the admissions desk netted us our fifth swim cap - this one made of polyester - and once Xander got scrubbed down, we were set free. So two hours of swimming, including the subway ride, set us back 30.30 Euros, or about $37.50. There was no chance we were going to explore the rest of the complexe and I was really glad I chose to pack a lunch instead of planning on eating in the cafeteria! In the end, we had a blast and the kids particularly enjoyed pretending they were Olympians, going through all the motions from pre-race introductions to receiving their imaginary medals and bouquets on the podium.
That evening, one of my biggest goals of our visit to Belgium was met as my friend Warren and I practiced with a local baseball club.
The first time Betsy suggested accompanying her for the summer, I immediately searched "baseball in Brussels" and came upon a site for the Kangaroos baseball club. I contacted the group once it became clear we would be making the trip and was disappointed to realize that the 150 Euro "players' license" combined with the fact that we planned so many weekend trips out of the city would preclude me from participating in actual games but was delighted to get an invitation to join them for practice anytime I was able.
The team plays and practices on a multi-use Sportsturf field that has a decent mound, two dugouts and a storage unit for all of their equipment (they also actually get TWO umpires for their games!). This video provides a flatteringly-edited look at the team and includes a great shot of a Frank Drebin-wannabe behind the plate at 1:10. A few guys from the video were at practice but by and large it was a mix of nationalities and abilities; sport-loving recreational athletes several of whom are still learning the techniques of the game. Unlike when the TCMABL Twins practice, the man in charge ordered two laps around the field to get things going and everyone actually started running. Then we circled up for a lengthy round of calisthenics.
Finally the real action got underway and we ran through a pretty standard infield/outfield followed up by the usual batting practice. I got some time in center but primarily manned second base despite my lack of a cup, confident that the turf field would provide true enough hops to prevent a repeat of my experience on one of the dirt infields in Minnesota shortly before my departure. "The boys" and I weren't let down and it was great turning two with the slick Japanese shortstop (all white below), definitely the best fielder on the team. There was also a hispanic guy who was pretty sharp (Yankees cap), a professional paintballer built like a tight end who literally just started playing baseball (Nebraska shirt) and the Belgian coach (standing, left) who knew what was up but otherwise it was mostly Bad News Bears.
We finished by doing some base running drills as I worked through mechanics with a couple of aspiring pitchers. It was a great experience and so fun to hear their Franco-Amercan chatter. I heard "I've got eet!" "You need to catch zis ball!" several "Atta boys" and some choice curses that I wish I could remember. For my TCMABL friends; overall the nine guys who stuck it out on Tuesday might be able to give the Entourage a run for their money but it would be close. Only one guy was struck in the head and had to leave to attend to his bloody lip and chipped tooth. Regardless it was great fun and I'm eager to get out again on Thursday night for another go at it.
Finally today we're counting down the days to our Friday train trip to London. We've been checking online daily for an opportunity to pick up some tickets but it's looking like that pretty much won't happen. A breakdown of some of the possibilities:
- $481 minimum for a single ticket to the men's basketball bronze medal game.
- $608 minimum for a single ticket to the men's boxing finals.
- $1,389 per ticket for track and field events on Saturday including finals for the men's 4x400 and 4x100 relays, pole vault, javelin as well as finals for women's high jump, hammer throw, 800m and 4x400 relay.
- $2,797 per ticket for the closing ceremony which would run $13,985 for the entire family to attend.
Actually we know that we'll be able to explore the public areas and we do have plans on at least getting along the course of the men's marathon so we're sure to have a great time. We're looking into attending a theatrical performance and we have a couple of extra days after the closing ceremonies to hit all the major sights and take in a couple of museums as well.
Until next time!