A Travellerspoint blog

Insel Hombroich and Medieval Stumblings

sunny 25 °C
View Reis van de Nautilidae on Estebaan's travel map.

Yesterday we drove to Insel Hombroich with Lutes sister and her family. This is a place that strives to put "Kunst parallel zur Natur". If you are partial to wandering around rambling parks filled with ponds, sculptures and architecturally inspired buildings housing modern art and antiquities ripped from the four corners of the globe - then this is for you. I thought it was awesome and it reminded me of how important such excursions are for filling the cup of inspiration.

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I put some more snaps at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=537281358#/album.php?aid=29831&id=537281358

The park is two hours drive from Antwerp and not far from Dusseldorf. If your German is Ok then you can get a good route description and overview at http://www.inselhombroich.de/tour.htm

Make sure you allow a full day and get the combined ticket to see the Langen Museum. We thought the tickets were a little bit pricey (20Euro adults 11Euro Kids) until we realised that there is an excellent vegetarian lunch included. This is served from the cafeteria inside Insel Hombroich, so our strategy of walking from the carpark at Insel and seeing the museum first worked out well. By coincidence we happened to meet Crystal and Gert (an architect couple and friends of Bram and Lute) whilst lunching at Insel - we are going to catch up with them in August. Below is a little sign I saw which I was told translates to, "Art is finding yourself"....nice!

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Afterwards we went off in search of a place to have a drink and stumbled upon a large medieval gathering/fair which was being held in the grounds of a castle in the nearby village of Hulcrath. It was a wonderful discovery. The grounds of the castle very picturesque and were filled with dozens of medieval style tents selling medieval wares to hundreds of crazy Germans, many who were dressed in medieval costumes and drinking from buffalo horns. Of course there was a couple of schmids there for me to cast my firey gaze over and I had a good chat to one of them who was casting and making bronze objects in a fire fanned by a big leather bellow. He told me that most of the store owners don't make much money but do it out of love for the lost crafts and the atmosphere - which was certainly amazing. It seems these festivals do a circuit in Germany, starting in Spring and ending in Autumn. The relaxed vibe of the festival reminded me of Confest although it certainly wasn't the hippy trippy alternative set - these Germans are serious when they go medieval. Check out some photos Bram took at

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It makes me think I will have to look up similar events when I get home to Oz - blacksmiths have a place at such. We all got home tired and I was thankful for Bram doing the driving.

Posted by Estebaan 01:28 Archived in Germany Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

"Het was mij een waar genoegen!"

sunny 14 °C
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Yesterday I had my last Thursday night blacksmithing class for the year. The image above shows me releasing my emotional turmoil by hammering a hot self forged nail into the "nagel boom". This is a tradition still carried on by Belgian blacksmiths, many who have a tree outside their forge that they have peppered with nails. Klaas taught me to hammer them in in whilst still hot - the explosion of smoke really makes the act quite a spectacle and you feel the energy release.

The translation for the title of this entry is "it was an absolute pleasure" and that's what I said last night to my teacher Patrick (he's the one holding the nagel boom). Patrick is perhaps one of Belgiums best blacksmiths and he was an amazing and inspirational teacher. I will miss him dearly. Last night he said to me, "Steve, when you started here I felt you were searching for something....I think you have found part of the answer." I reckon he hit the proverbial nail on the head there. Class photo below.
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Posted by Estebaan 08:51 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Another Day in Antwerpia

overcast 20 °C
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The combination of the arrival of warmer weather, students finishing their exams, the world cup and the tourist influx means that Antwerp is hotting up. It is now not unusual to have our beauty sleep serenaded by drunken late night revellers wandering home past our apartment. Last night I actually went out and indulged in a bit of the cafe culture, meeting my fellow blacksmith student Klaas and a few of his university colleagues. We brainstormed a name and a logo for the absinthe we are planning on distilling. The best name we came up with was "Bad Moon Rising" with a silhouette image of a wolf taking a bite out of the moon..yeh yeh it needs work.

I have maxed out all our library cards and the apartment is littered with about 30 travel guides and country picture books. Antwerp central library is extremely well stocked, with numerous copies of guides in various languages for most countries in the world. This week is my last week for my 3night/wk Blacksmith classes...I will miss them deeply. The creative expression and brotherhood I have felt in the community of students that forge at the Zuiderpershuis has touched me deeply and given me a new vision, to have a forge in the centre of my life.
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Posted by Estebaan 13:01 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Meandering in/around Belgium

About me/us

semi-overcast 12 °C
View Reis van de Nautilidae on Estebaan's travel map.

Well hello out there! Welcome to my first blog entry. The inspiration to start this blog comes from the my need to share what I see hear and feel with you, my friends and family. Facebook just doesn't have the depth I have been looking for, so perhaps this blog format from Travellerspoint will do the trick. I hope you get something out of it.

The goal of this blog will be to outline the life and times of me "Estebaan Cortez Dante", my wife (Lut) and twin 12yr old boys (Max and Victor) for the next 6-7months. At this stage we are based in Antwerp. Lut is working fulltime as an archtitect and my boys are attending a Belgian school. We have been based here since last August 07 after hurtling out of Melbourne following my former companies takeover and my realisation that I was at a midlife career junction.

Although this trip began last year its really a journey and in that respect a lifelong one. The title for our journey "Reis van de Nautilidae", literally translated as "Trip of the Nautilidae" is a Flemish inspired title from the what could be considered our family emblem, the Nautilus. Nautilidae is the taxonomic name for the family of cephalopods in which the Nautilus is categorised... We have lots of these shells in our collection back in Australia, our most valued being a Paper Nautilus shell found by Victor on a windswept beach on Wilsons Promontory many years ago. The beauty of the form, its symmetry, is one of natures true treasures, just like us. Below is a photo was taken on a bike trip we made to Lier a few weekends ago. There was a feast of good wrought ironwork for me to photograph on the route which went from Antwerp through some streets in Mortsel before heading into the fields around Hove. This is just one of the many great rides around Antwerp that can be found on the bike map you can purchase from the Tourist Info centre on the Grote Markt.

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Posted by Estebaan 09:29 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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