On the way to Putte... After a fruitless attempt to locate the fiets network from the center of Kalmthout, I just got on the N111 west and put on my headphones. There is a bike path along the highway, the signature thin red strip of northern Belgium. After a while I found a knooppunt marker, and now I'm going through the woods toward Puttte, which is to say, back to the Netherlands.
(original date of this entry: Sept 19, 2014)
|Putte -- the Belgian one|
|Machsike Hadass cemetery plan|
The one in plain clothes counted off the stones from right to left. No 35 was one of the few proper tombstones, but ... it was lying face down on the grave. At some point over the previous eight decades it must have toppled over. Lying face down as it was, the inscription was concealed underneath and I could not confirm the identity of its occupant. The casually dressed Jew made a perfunctory attempt to lift the headstone but it was useless. The slight dude waxed philosophical: "If someone else is under the stone, you can pray for her too." They mentioned that Rosh Hashana was coming up. Oh yeah, that time of year, and I admitted my ignorance of Jewish ritual. "God doesn't try to reach you through the head but through the heart," the slight one philosophized benignly. Then the fat rosy-cheeked one told me they were on their way to Amsterdam. "Any idea where we can park?"
|Grave of Esther Plutzer--face down|
It took forever to reach kp 54 but on the way I crossed the grand Schelde and it looked fabulous. I was extremely excited to be arriving in this big city. In all my travels, I can't recall entering a city in such a seamless fashion, the sight of apartment towers signalling my arrival, then cranes along the dockyards. I stopped to look at the river, the big barges turning at a bend and felt great elation.
I continued toward kp 56. I realized I had no knooppunt map for the city. Yet somehow I'd listed the points on a strip of paper. (Must've got 'em off one of those map boards.) Then I left the network, headed down Italiëlei/Frankrijklei, a broad boulevard, the fietspad a narrow brick strip alongside. Some cyclists use the path, including some on bike share deals, but it's nowhere near as busy as Amsterdam. I turned east at the latitude of the triangular Stadspark, found Rubenslei along the bottom of the triangle and followe Plantin en Marituslei till Moutenstraat, took a left and found No 43.
Marleen Leys opened the door. A slight woman of indeterminate age. She could be 49, she could be 60, her hair is white and she has a bittersweet smile. Marleen wore a simple summer dress. She suggested I put the bike in the hall. She then showed me to my room on the top floor. The building is old, designed and furnished with the utmost simplicity. all unvarnished or painted wood surfaces. I told Marleen i'd ridden from Amsterdam. She seemed shocked--in a day?! No, five days, I explained.
10 pm on a perfect late summer eve, at a called Primo, on the Dageraadplaats, tony terrace bistros on two sides of the plaza, a gothic church on another, a canopy of lights like stars. I like the funky chipped-paint terrace tables here. The kitchen had actually closed but the nice young waiter got them to do another pasta. I am celebrating--me, myself and I--my triumphant arrival in Antwerp. Continued ...