Tuesday, November 19, 2013

This Won't Cut the Mustard

It seems au courant these days for television shows and movies to start out with the current time, but then peel the layers back to tell or show what happened earlier. I am going to do that with our Belgium experience.
Monday, November 18th we enjoyed our last luxurious breakfast at the hotel, but the best thing on the buffet was missing. There was no Roquefort cheese amongst the other selections. This quickly became my favorite food item after getting up in the morning. I survived, but breakfast wasn’t as much of a treat as the last two days.

Today we were to check out by 11:30am, so we left our luggage in the luggage waiting room. Our flight was for 6:20pm, so we had time to do a last walk of Ghent. The plan was to take a tram around 12:30pm to the train station. Our train to Brussels Midi would leave at 1:05pm and we would need to transfer to another train to Brussels Charleroi Sud scheduled for 2:07pm. This only gave us a window of 6 minutes to change tracks or miss the connecting train. Once at Brussels Charleroi Sud, we had to catch a bus to the airport. We anticipated our final arrival there to be by 3:34pm and do a check-in for our flight.

The key to this story is that we were flying WizzAir. This airline now charges for carry-on luggage larger than a clutch purse that suffers from anorexia. For a fee, you can pay to take a larger carry-on with you. We did this, so each of us could have one carry-on. The cost of the airfare was discounted since I have a Wizz membership card. Another hidden rule is that you must print out your own boarding pass or be dunned at the check-in counter. Wizz does make this easier by allowing passengers to print out all documents up to 2 weeks before the flight. I had all the paperwork. The only reason to even approach the check-in desk was to show our passports. Had we been EU citizens, we could have bypassed this entirely.

Now we were on our way to security. As we were standing in line, there was a display of things that could or could not be taken on board. In the top section, the sign showed “OK”, but the bottom display had “No, OK”. I laughed, pointed it out to Ron and moved forward. By the time we reached the trays to load with our things, I had my coat off, my computer out, and my carry-on suitcase all in separate trays. I felt like a travel warrior prepared for action. I walked through the screening frame and set off the alarm. They did their general body search and found nothing of interest.

I went to retrieve my things from the conveyor belt, but a different guard asked if the suitcase was mine. I said yes, so he asked if he could open it. “Sure!” I responded with confidence. What the inspector immediately seized were the jars of mustard and a jar of Advocat that I had bought for gifts and for myself. He held each one and said “No, no, no! You cannot take any of these. They are liquids. Being a mustard lover, I had bought the largest jars of two of the mustards I had tasted. I wanted to return today for a third variety, but the store was closed. 

Mustard to me is the best condiment ever conceived by man. Advocat is a Belgium or Flanders specialty. It is a thick yellow pudding type substance that they put on toast, ice cream, or as one saleswoman said, she eats it out of the jar. Of course, with 9% alcohol, who wouldn’t be tempted? It has an eggnog flavor; I thought jars of it would make ideal gifts. 

Now they are gifted to the security of the Brussels Charleroi Security Authority. I can’t cry over spilled milk, because they would not allow me to bring that through either.

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