Pairi Daiza

Macsen turned 16 last month and we wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. What we came up with was a two-day trip to Pairi Daiza, a zoo and botanical garden located in Wallonia. For the first day, we signed Macsen up for the Keeper for a day experience, which allowed him to get a lot closer to the animals than the rest of us.

That said, the park is huge, so there were plenty of animals for the rest of us to see. Pairi Daiza is home to 7,000 animals, spread across 65 hectares of, often stunning, landscape. It’s big, and I’m glad we were all equipped with decent walking shoes.

The park itself is located on the grounds of the former Cistercian Cambron Abbey, and is divided into several Worlds, each emphasising a different environment. What makes the overnight stay so special is that the accommodation is in these worlds. In our case, we booked a room in The Land of the Cold, overlooking the Siberian Tigers, the biggest cat on earth.

As with many modern zoos, Pairi Daiza also serves environmental and educational functions, seeing to preserve threatened habitats, protect endangered species and introduce them into the wild if possible. It also seeks to educate visitors about the wider culture of the lands the animals originate from, and why this matters.

With the experience and the accommodation, it’s not cheap. But it did provide a fantastic couple of days, and I was surprised at just how difficulty it was, on the second day, to bring ourselves to leave. I would certainly recommend it and would very happily go again.

Unfortunate timing

On Friday, the Pixel Museum opened it’s doors to the public. This is Brussels’ first and only video games museum and includes merchandise, memorabilia and — most interestingly to me — 50 playable arcade games.

In other Friday news, the Belgian government announced a tightening of restrictions in order (hopefully) to bring down the rising Coronavirus numbers.

Among the restrictions, bars and restaurants have to close for four weeks, although this will be reviewed in two week’s time. Understandably, the hospitality sector is not happy about this.

Nothing has been decided about museums yet as the rules for sport and culture are still being revised. There will be an announcement this coming Friday, but I would expect to see museums, cinemas and indoor sporting events to be severely restricted, if not closed down completely. Which would be a shame, because I really like the idea of going out to play Space Invaders.

So here’s hoping that the infection rates start falling again and that we can start emerging — yet again — before too long, and that the affected businesses manage to stay afloat long enough to survive this latest outbreak.

52 Orbits

Today, I have managed to make it around the Sun 52 times, but we’ve celebrated already. We went out on Sunday for a socially distanced all you can eat breakfast, followed by two hours of mask compliant bowling. And it’s all in the same location.

The breakfast is something we have done before. You book a table tor two hours (other options are probably available), and while there you can help yourself to as much food as you want. Except, because of the Coronavirus, you can’t help yourself anymore — you have to wait by the counter until the rather harassed looking waiter can come and put some food on your plate.

We were still allowed to help ourselves to coffee, however. I drank a lot of coffee.

The food is great, though, and they have adjusted to the Covid requirements well. Once our trips for more food became a bit more spread, things worked remarkably smoothly. So we ate and, once we were too stuffed to move, we went downstairs for the bowling.

It was 2002, I think, when I last went bowling and I was pretty rubbish then as well. But the twins have expressed an interest a couple of times which is why we decided to go on Sunday. And they did really well — in fact everyone did well, except me.

This is why the scoreboard is obscured in the photo at the top of this post 😉

All in all, it was a fun, and surprisingly cheap, way to spend most of Sunday. We will certainly be doing this again — especially as winter draws in and outdoor activities become less feasible.

That said, the next trip probably won’t be anytime soon given that more Covid restrictions are going into effect today.