going all the places, running all the races, eating all the things

Category Archives: Festivus

On Saturday we did something I think there should be far more of – we went on a long walk with nowhere particular in mind. Across the Harbour Bridge, round and about Blues Point eventually arriving totally by accident at the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability.


I can’t believe I grew up on the north side and had no idea this place existed. It is totally rad. Amazing views in a hodge podge of old buildings and with the tunnel of the coal loader open to wander through.

Until the end of this weekend it will be showing the North Sydney Art Prize. You should go, lots of fun art outside and inside in a lovely setting. We also scored free wine but that might not permanently be on offer – there is however a cute cafe.

Walking through the spooky coal loader tunnel was the highlight.

But the art was pretty great too, love these little worms.


These brass seedlings in pomegranate pots were quite sweet too.


And what’s not to love about this!?


If you have spare time this weekend I would definitely recommend this. If you don’t then add it to the diary for next year?


People used to complain than the annual Vivid festival in Sydney was a waste of time – with money being thrown at avant grade curators (Laurie Anderson et al) for a festival that had no public.

Happily they were wrong.

The festival has music, plays and installations but the real star of the s the light show.

I love seeing the Harbour alive in winter, and having excuses to explore new bits of the Rocks & surrounds and uncover secret things – like this little rat.




Whichever language you choose to say it’s name in, Gent is one of the most charming and lively cities in Flanders . It has great bars and nightlife, canals and historic squares, and more old buildings and churches than you could throw a stick at.

If you only visit one city in Belgium go to Gent. Brugge is pretty but Gent is vibrant AND pretty.

Here’s an example: art, old buildings, a canal and people drinking all in the one photo. My kind of place.



As it seemed time to do a little touristing we went to the Design Museum. It has an amazing mix of 18th and 19th Century design and art in a gorgeous old building, mixed with modern and post modern art and design pieces.

Loved this original wallpaper in one of the rooms – surprisingly modern.

And this mutant bear by Philippe Starck also took my fancy, pity he wasn’t for sale in the gift shop.

Then time for a proper coffee. This espresso from Simon Says sure hit the spot.The apple and cherry juice was also ace.

Possibly the best coffee I have ever had in Belgium. Highly recommended. This place is also a Bed and Breakfast – if I ever need to stay overnight in Gent will be at the top of my list of places.

Dinner was delicious Gentse Stoverij from the De Rechtvardige Rechters.

Was served with some of the best frites I have ever had. A must try if you are in Gent.

Gentse stoverij is the local version of the more general “stoverij” or “stoofpot”. It is basically a rich beef stew with mustard and often Belgian beer in the sayce.

We couldn’t quite stomach the whole portion so asked for a doggie bag and got this. Fancy schmancy.

It is likely that this is in order to be in compliance with food serving rules, they have included the date etc on the packet.

Then at 10pm that night I did the “midzomernachtrun“. A 15 kilometre fun run through the old centre of Gent. There was also a 10 kilometer option. Total field around 3,600 runners.

My photo from the course shows some of the atmosphere but not a lot more. Amazing night and the most picturesque run I have ever done. That said cobblestones which formed quite a lot of the course are pretty horrific to run on!

The post race showbags contained the usual random product samples plus some Gulden Draak – an excellent beer from Gent.

More information:

Official tourism website for Gent If it’s your first visit you should probably at least see the Gravensteen Castle and take a tour of the canals on a boat.

Midzomernachtrun and running in Gent organised by Gentloopt

Design Museum Gent is at Jan Breydelstraat 5  9000 Gent

The Sinksenfoor is an institution in Antwerp. A giant fair along the Schelde that stays for around 6 weeks each year, indicating for many young and old that Summer is starting.

We visited on the last day this year, meaning that many of the rides and even food stands were substantially discounted – bonus! (other coupons etc for specials can be found here)

The amazing ferris wheel for incredible views over Antwerp.

The Sinkenfoor is also a proper fair in the most important way – RIDES!

There seems to be a lot more fun houses and mirror houses than at similar fairs in Australia. Fun for someone like me who is a total wuss about rides like rollercoasters and pirate ships.

The amusingly named polyp. I wonder what language this actually works in – to me it is more of a medical condition than a ride.

The screaming caused by this ride is pretty universal – no Flemish language skills required.

Time for a short break and a Bitburger.

Last day of the fair means you can get two of these for 2 euros. Cheapest round I’ve bought here so far.








Then to the Desire de Lille stand for a snack.

Here they are making the apple beignets – apple slices in batter fried and then served with a dusting of icing sugar.

For me however a day at the fair means smouteballen!







Smouteballen (also known as olliebollen) are nothing more than a fried, yeasty dough. The inside remains moist and a little chewy, the outside is hot and greasy and the icing sugar always goes everywhere.

It is very tempting to eat these immediately but letting them cool down a little is advised, if difficult.

8 smouteballen for 4 euros – share between two.






One last look at the sideshow alley games – almost tempted by these Barbapapa plushies but suspect they would not fit in my check in luggage to head home.



More information:

Sinksenfoor – official website

Vlaamsekaai, Antwerpen

Open weekdays and Sundays from 2-3pm till midnight

26 May 2012 – 1 July 2012

Open Friday and Saturday night from 2-3 pm till 1am.

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