An excerpt from our local newspaper…….

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Here is an excerpt from our local paper. We were asked to share our overseas trip. We do that here. Your children’s party and theme would definitely feature in the paper!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The %$#@ and &*() take Belgium and Switzerland By Storm….

James  dropped off John #$%^ and Ian and Angie (*&)% at the !!@@#*& airport. They met Countesskaz there, as she had gone via Riet River to drop off  the kids with her folks.

They boarded the flight to Joburg. A longish sit spent at the Mugg and Bean before they left for Zürich. To say that excitement filled the air is an understatement. After the chaos, that is passport control and International Departures in JHB, the calm efficiency of Zürich airport jolted the 4 South Africans. Angie’s Sister and Husband, C and G ^%&* met them at half past six in the morning. They spent the day in Uster, a village on the outskirts of Zürich. C fed and took the eager Saffers on a walk around the magnificent lake. The snow-capped Alps set in the background  provided a great backdrop and taster of more exciting things to come.

Ian, Ang, John and Countesskaz once again boarded a flight to Brussels late  that afternoon. They arrived after a few glasses of Swiss Air Heineken and glasses of red to find no-one to collect them. After much Twittering, facebooking, sms-ing  to the Belgian Tablers they finally made contact and found the Coach Driver to take them to Dinant. Because the over-zealous Norwegians had already booked limo’s they didn’t travel on the bus. So it was 4 South Africans in a 50 seater bus driven by a non-English Speaking Spaniard. John and Ian, using very expressive sign language and basic English finally got the Spaniard to understand that they wanted beer. An emergency stop at a garage prevailed . During the 1-ish hour long trip (**&^ 75 represented (*&&^ most admirably in a record-setting beer tasting of note. Did you know Belgium offers over 600 types of beers?

Arrived at the venue in Dinant, the French part of Belgium. As is tradition for every, or most Euro meetings, the Norwegians stole the show with their antics and high jinx. It was lovely to see old friends from Germany, Norway, and Gillingham to name a few. France has now joined the Euro 75 meeting, so some lucky Tabler’s wives will soon get taken to romantic Paris in the next few years. After a late night of good fun and exquisite French champagne, as per Ang and Countesskaz, provided kindly by the Belgians, we all headed off to bed.

The next morning after breakfast, began the Belgian adventure Boot Camp. As official photographer, and NOT because she was a bangbroek, Countesskaz abstained from the abseiling, rock climbing lark. She hung with her new mates from Gillingham and Germany, with her feet firmly on the ground and watched and took photographs of Ian, Ang and John.  At one stage countesskaz got a crick in her neck at the angle she had to put her head to see how high the others had climbed and eventually had to abseil down from.

After a dubious taster of the Norwegians version of Bobsey’s Blitz, which incidentally is quiet a local  legend in Europe, and cured leg of lamb,(there are no words to describe this, but let us try: take a lamb. Slaughter it. Skin it. Take a chunk of meat out of it. Bite a piece off!) the afternoon was spent strolling the charming town of Dinant and HORRAY, FINALLY, Angie and Countesskaz found a chocolatier. Angie took it from the left and Countesskaz took it from the right while Ian and John stood stunned with their mouths hanging open….who knew their wives enjoyed chocolate so much?

That night all the Tablers from Europe and South Africa 75 boarded a bus to an ancient, beautiful monastry where we celebrated in absolute 5 star style…the gala evening. Ian  was asked to auction off the goods bought by the Norwegians minus one bottle of Vodka. Someone nicked the vodka out the trolley. And rumour has it, that her feet lifted clean off the ground while rummaging  through the bottom of the trolley. The Norwegians had bought out the contents of a Nigerian’s shop in Dinant. Ian, single-handedly raised over 2000 Euro’s. The Europeans, especially, the Norwegians, gave Ian a standing ovation for his auctioneering expertise.  The background house and Techno music gave Ian an excellent backdrop for his auctioneering style.

The next morning after a farewell breakfast, the South Africans took the coach back to Brussels. This time with 3 Norwegians. The other Norwegians would follow later. A quick farewell to Norwegian friends at the Brussels Airport and then the Saffers were taken to their 3 star hotel. More like 1 star dodgy dive! John almost got flattened by an Eastern European ex pat speeding by as he was disembarking from the coach.

After a hop-on and hop-off Bus tour around Brussels and absorbing the Brussels atmosphere, the four went for some sundowners at 8-30pm. The sun only sets at about half 10. John experienced an agonising meal of mussels from Brussels. Feel free to ask him about it.

Next morning they caught a train to Brugge. Now Brugge, for those of you that don’t know, is known as the Venice of Northern Europe. It’s in the Dutch part of Belgium. Charming, narrow streets with cobbled stones. Home of the Belfry tower. It was in this town that Countesskaz was forcibly placed on a bicycle, by John, and made to cycle with Ian, Ang and John around the greater part of Brugge. After sulking and under-the-breath name calling she started to enjoy herself and actually had a great time. She actually found the cycle to be one of her highlights of her holiday. After cycling about 100 miles, Countesskaz stopped to rest at a restaurant/pub at a canal water’s edge. Angie cycled on with the boys and returned a while later. John and Ian cycled out-of-town almost to the Netherlands. It’s that close. Someone overheard the story being told the other day and the distance  is NOW 3km’s from the Netherlands!

After the cycle, the four ate chocolate, walked around Brugge, ate chocolate, went on a cruise in the canals, ate chocolate and ate more chocolate. And they drank beer. Had some supper, drank beer and then tried to drink some more beer. They also went shopping in some speciality shops, saw cathedrals, lace making and had lots and lots and lots of laughs.

The next morning they caught a train to Brussels. No-one left their camera bags on the train this time, and they got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Once again they boarded a plane back to Zürich, to the eagerly awaiting friends. After a very Swiss supper and some card games, where Countesskaz beat Ian a few times, they went for a lovely walk around the farm lands in Uster.

The next morning, C took the Saffers to a lovely chocolate shop where all hell broke loose. Physical restraining and a few domestics broke out and wives had to be reigned in and reminded about baggage weight on Swiss Air! All’s well that ends well though, and with mouthfuls of chocolate they agreed to the conditions laid out by their husbands.

A trip around Zürich’s old Town, Zürich itself and the Zürich lake was enjoyed by John, Countesskaz, Ian and Ang. Zurich is known to be very expensive, but runs like clockwork, very clean and they loved it! The views from the large boat were magnificent  and showcased beautiful old churches, the Alps and lake front mansions.

The next day all departed for a Road Trip into the Alps. It’s difficult to explain the beauty of the Alps. Switzerland is very traditional and The road trip lead the 6 travellers into the French part of Switzerland as opposed to Zürich which is the German part of Switzerland. It might seem confusing, but try to keep up…A stop off at Gruyère castle for the traditional meringues and thick cream. And of course coffee for John, who became a coffee connoisseur in Europe…. Gruyère castle dates back to before 1554. It’s a medieval castle that towers over the town of Gruyère. Yes, that’s correct, that’s where Gruyère cheese comes from. Well done.  After enjoying the castle a trip to the Gruyère cheese factory was enjoyed and especially the cheese tasting. The 6 then travelled the short distance to the very Swiss B&B, complete with bedrooms over the shed with cows and their cowbells. They enjoyed a traditional fondue and a lovely walk.

The next day was spent travelling back to Zürich after visiting local towns, untouched by tourists and a visit to the Callier Chocolate factory, now owned by Nestle. That night John and Countesskaz travelled back to South Africa followed by Ian and Angie the next day. Altogether an excellent trip, so many memories, so many laughs shared. A great holiday….

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