26-10-2001: It has been a while since I really visited E2 for any other reasons than to check my messages (and bring back some memories). So, finally another write-up from Sir PK (and for the first time from Yoshiko - my laptop). Now about the Everything2.com gathering The Netherlands + Belgium ... an interesting experience.

We met at the train station Utrecht Central, unfortunately we ended up with only four people, though that didn't stop the fun and laughs. Wendy organized us and made reservations for a tour of the Dom Tower in Utrecht (the tallest church tower in Utrecht) and the restaurant. It was kinda cool, she actually had two E2 signs pinned on her jacket and backpack. We where one of three or four groups meeting there, so that was quite useful. I arrived from Nijmegen at 14:14 (I love the Dutch public transport system). There was supposed to be one more guy ... he did not show up (we waited until 14:35). To bad, his loss (xp?). We shortly introduced each other (we had a semi-Belg from the UK in our midst - he can understand Dutch reasonably fine, but mostly we all talked English), than walked to the Tower. Wendy got our tickets and up we went ... a long and tiring climb, esp for *** - who should really pick up some exercise, not for her looks (which are more than fine) but for the required physical fitness to climb the ??? steps to the top. The top ... I did it ! Yes, it's worth noding (!) cuz I still have not completely conquered my fear of heights. The guided tour was nice, not to much worthless detail. Our guide (I forgot her name) was friendly but very strict (comes with the territory I guess), she lectured us in both Dutch and English. In the mean time we, of course, got to know each other better... (If you're interested in who I got to know and what I got to know about them, be there at the next Dutch E2 Gathering.)

Having climbed that Tower, we where all in a major mood for a nice place to SIT and drink. Having a semi-Belg in our group, we decided on a quite busy Belgium cafe. We had some drinks (beers - our semi-Belg knew most of them of course, herbal tea, red port and NO HEINEKEN). Great talks about languages, life, the universe and (quite literally:) everything !
At about 18:40 we where moved to remember our stomachs at what appeared to be a nice place; unfortunately we used the right door at the wrong moment (gheez, what are 10 minutes), so we went back out and up (again those steps) and waited for dinner time. Dinner time came and went. It came back esp for us a little while later (I guess a suggestion is less commanding than a funny yell and some exemplary action). So we went down again (I guess every step stepped on steps is going to be putting some memories into place for a little while to come).
Dinner was great ... we had a couple fights - the English are pretty good with their knife and fork. Some more dirty looks and nice comments plus some various conversation about pictures, weather (yes, I know, this month is still and has for at least the last 300 years been October), politics (uhm) and some other quite random and spur-of-the-moment conversation.

The bill was checked and rechecked (we did not get some stuff we ordered and found out the bill had completely correctly forgotten about them too). Up and away we where ... another place again; some "static" coffeeshop ... the table we wanted was easily found, though took some charm to get. I got Ballantine's and they all got some various form of coffee (I still don't understand the attraction for that drug). Of course we had some more laughs and the awesomely cute view of a "sexy teacher" ... sometimes someone missed out on the conversation, but he/she was quickly replaced or joined by someone else not following or understanding the conversation. We had some more laughs and a sparsely serious moment of deliberation (the decision to end a very nice meeting of four previous strangers, whom our mommies would say about that we should not talk to - boy, am I glad I am from the internet age and in that respect never listened to my mom). Okay, so after some sharing and exchanging of money, jackets and bags, we arrived at the meeting-point ... (unfortunately) it did not turn into a here-we-all-wish-and-kiss-eachother-goodbye-point (again my apologies to Wendy and our semi-Belg, I'm sure we'll meet again).

Thanks all for a great event and evening.

PS: Special thanks + kisses go to our comedian - please come "torture" my brain and body again sometime soon ;-)
PPS: And I just have to quote Albert Herring: "Soberty started complaining about the number of steps about a third of the way up and continued to do so until she had a beer in her hand." I'm not sure why, but along with his "We where largely unable to figure out what was going on, but comforted by the evident equal inability of anybody else to do so either." it's just the best ! Hey, at least it made me ROTFLOL :-)
Well, it has been... interesting, to say the least.

It seems to me that organizing a Dutch get-together was above all a good deed. Albert_Herring got some time off from a very hectic month, and Sir_PK and Soberty seemed to like each other a great deal. Why everybody agreed to climb the Domtoren I shall never understand, as two of the participants suffer from vertigo and a third complained about the great many (465) steps she had to go up and, worse, back down again. But hey, we were in my favourite town and did things I like to do so you won't be hearing any complaints from me!

After the great adventure at 102 meters, we went to Café België with the idea our semi-Belgian friend would feel right at home there, and indeed he was immediately familiar with his surroundings and recognized many old friends. Soberty befriended the bartender and masterfully served us our drinks. She turns out to have great talent in many areas, the most noticeable of which seems to be knife fighting.

This knife fighting talent resurfaced later when, over tortelloni and manchego, a series of events happened that I later interpreted to be some kind of mating ritual involving cutlery, cat imitations and a warm coat. However this may be, the evening ended with everybody in their own respective coats and in the right train.

It's amazing how many languages and how much lingual confusion four people can produce. I hope there will be a next time with more people, if only to see how big the confusion will be then...

Pictures of this event can now be viewed at http://sobi.tetrinet.nu/e2 , which just happens to be Soberty's website.
Earned myself a 24 hour pass away from house-moving, DIY and various other aspects of domestic bliss by being the one who had to undergo the ritual humiliation heaped upon outgoing tenants in Belgian rented accommodation, the dreaded état des lieux (never again, I hope). What better escape than jumping on a northbound train in search of windmills, clogs and some bunch of complete strangers. The SNCB tried to wreck my plans by adding an interesting detour to the already somewhat circuitous route into Brussels, but just made the connection, smooth through to Rotterdam Centraal and then off to Utrecht, following in the footsteps of Paul Heaton's songwriting jaunts.

Sloebertje actually arrived on the same train, I think, so I did a lap or two of the station concourse before resorting to the phone, which promptly rang about 2 metres away from where I was standing, so I told her not to answer it, that roaming stuff costs. Made mumbled introductions and polite smalltalk. Apparently there was some fantasy convention or other on, so we weren't the only people there trying to make contact with complete strangers; the meeting point got a bit crowded and it was a while before Soberty and Sir PK rolled up. Stood around some more, aging knees on the point of giving way, before finally giving up and setting off in a foursome for the first official icebreaking activity, the scaling of the 102 metre Domtoren. Well, 112 metres or something, but 102 m is as far as you can get. This had the effect of reducing two of the party to quivering wrecks: yours truly a victim of acrophobia, bottled out at carillon level (75 m) when first called upon to walk along a 1 metre stretch of openwork alongside the void, while Soberty started complaining about the number of steps about a third of the way up and continued to do so until she had a beer in her hand back at ground level.

Rumour had it that the view was good; less so with your eyes screwed shut. We repaired to the Café België where I tried in vain to offer educational guidance on the reasonably extensive beer list; Soberty tried ordering Heineken and, when that failed, trying to wash her outer garments in sloebertje's port . Having completely failed to resolve the nick/real name etiquette issue, I studiously avoided calling anybody anything, but that's fairly normal anyway. We were then mostly obliged to attempt to weird each other out in order to make sure that nobody got the idea that we might be the perfectly normal quiet one who would turn out to be an axe-wielding maniac. I was, of course, oldest, but I can hack that. They laughed at my bad Dutch and Anglo-Flemish accent, but I can hack that too. Plotted systematic downvoting of the no-shows. The nachtrestaurant is called that because you eat in near total darkness, but mostly veggie tapas mostly came as ordered and were consumed. Fought with cutlery; watch out for Soberty if she has a table knife in her hand, that's all I can say. Were largely unable to figure out what was going on, but comforted by the evident equal inability of anybody else to do so either. Things started getting a bit blurry around that point. Used up most of the "There's a node about that" and "And all was silence" lines. Moved on for coffee, considered possibility of further activities and failed to reach a decision (the usual result of asking me). Started to run out of steam a bit, decided to call it a day, I headed back to sleep on sloebertje's boyfriend's couch in deepest Delft (for which hospitality many thanks), no idea where the other two vanished off to, but maybe they'll tell us.

/me needed that. See you at the next one.

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