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Crisis 2011 - Your in the Navy now Son!

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    Posted: 14 Nov 2011 at 15:22
Just over a week ago Dale and I set off for Belgium for our first show on the the Continent. The Crisis show in Antwerp is recognised as one of the Europe premier shows and we where excited to be a part of it. So after being somewhat what delayed with the catching up we have had to do after the show, we have a report of our weekend in Belgium.

Our journey began with a 2 hour drive to the Hull Ferry port where we embarked on the Pride of York for our overnight crossing.

We had an interesting position for the car, on the down ramp to a supported gantry hanging above over vehicles. The head room was tight.....

....the cabin space was an interesting bunk bed affair with an en suite off to one side!

Still it was only a place to get our heads down for a few hours, so we dumped our gear and headed off to the bar with a collection of boardgames.

It was a pleasent evening in the bar, which had a piano player one most of the night. We had a few drinks and got in several games of Gears of War and Elder Signs.

After a somewhat uncomfortable nights sleep on the ferry we arrived in Zeebrugge port around 8:30 am.

From here is was a straight forward hours drive to Antwerp. Dale and I where both impressed by the massive amount of investment Belgium seems to have made in wind farms. They where everywhere and an awesome sight. We where however confused by the random small corn fields that seemed to be dotted about the place.

We arrived in Antwerp about 10:30am. Willy and his TSA crew where in the venue but it was far to early for traders to set up so we grabbed a coffee and a waffle for the Kiosk outside the venue. We then wasted a few hours driving about lost, never managing to find Antwerp center. It turned out the map we where using did not have our starting point on!

About 14:30 we went back to the Metropolis to check up on the setup. Things had progressed so we began to unload and setup.

With our new racking and blistered products we took a while longer setting up and preening the stall.

About 17:30 things where looking done so we headed off to the Antwerp Docks Hotel across the road. We had been warned (after I had booked) about the "Docks Experience" and whilst people are right to say it is what is is I doubt we will be making use of it again. Dale said it reminded him of Hostel.

Still the beer was cold.

and the bar did fill up with people later on.

After a very bad nights sleep, but a surprisingly excellent breakfast at the Hotel we headed over to the venue at 8:15. Now the venue can be walked to in around 3 mins from the hotel, we took the car so we could load up after the show. After I made a wrong turn onto the motorway our 2 minute drive turned into a 25 minute jolly around the highways and byways of Antwerps one way system!

When we finally made it to the show it was a hive of activity with traders piling in with their wares.

At around 10am the doors can open and the gathered masses poured into the show.

I was busy running games of Critical Mass and talking to customers about the miniatures and rules through out the day whilst Dale worked hard behind the stall serving.

Sadly this ment niether of us really had time to take pictures of the show itself!

What I can say from my quick walk round in the morning is that the show prides itself of having participation games, all of which are presented to a high standard, and more importantly that the people come to play!

This led to me running perhaps the most involved and fun game of Critical Mass I have ever had at a show, the people where simply up for learning, and well up for playing. So my thanks to you all.

For a more indepth view of the games at the show please visit the Pendraken forums and check out Leon's show report.

After a very busy and hectic day we packed up the stall, getting out of the venue just before 18:30. It was then back to the hotel for a well earned pint and a chat witht he other traders, before we all headed off the the Tin Soldiers of Antwerps club house. I must praise the TSA and its members here as thir club members ferried traders fromthe hotel to the clubs own premises, so that we could kick back and enjoy a drink without the worry of finding transport. They also offer a 10 euro buffet with a massive selection of food.

Needless to say pretty much all the traders from the UK attended since they would be spending another night in Belgium waiting for the ferries the next day.

Dave from Pendraken embarassing his son Leon

A round of aplause for the TSA and its president.

Round 1 in the Beat the Buffet competition at our table......I think we all lost!

After a wonderfully relaxed evening at the TSA club house, the members once again went out of their way taking us back to the hotel, where we once again had a few drinks in the bar before calling it a night.

The next day Dale and I where faced with a quandry in that we could only check in for our return ferry at 16:00. With that in mind and being fans of the film In Brugge we fired up the sat nav and headed off for a look round.

I was surprised at how easy the drive was (though presumably the roads where quiet with it being a sunday), and as we hit cobbled streets we assumed we must be there. We parked up then walked around a corner to find this.....

Brugge centre with the Bell Tower from the film.

We grabbed a coffee in one of the many establishment around the square (and took the opportunity to use the free wi-fi).

After this we decided to take a look at the Belfort (Bell Tower) in the main square, and as it was opened paid our 8 Euros each and began the ascent.

Half way up was the old safe room for the towns papers. So safe it burnt out at one point!

Me with my best "catalogue man" pose

At the top of the 84 meter Bell Tower we got to enjoy some spectacluar view of Brugge. It was just a shame the weather was not great as we could have seen alot further afield.

Dale enjoys the view.

The view towards Brugge Historical Town Square

The view towards Brugge Town Hall

The descent was fun as we kindly encouraged people going up saying, "your almost half way" (they weren't    )

Dale on the wide stairs at the bottom of the tower, things got alot smaller towards the top.

We finished our time in Brugge with a wonder around the streets and markets, buying gifts (mainly chocolate) for family members back home.

A Lab taking it easy alongside the canals of Brugge.

Around 14:30 we headed back to the car and had a thirty minute drive back to Zeebrugge and our ferry.

After two nights of poor sleep in the hotel in Antwerp the bunks on the ferry where a welcome sight.

More board games and drinking in the bar saw us home dispite the choppy seas.

Overall an excellent weekend for Critical Mass Games and some new experiences to add to lifes collection.

A big thanks to the TSA once again for the excellent show and to all the attendees of the show for their welcoming nature and enthusiam, we are already looking forward to next year and the new venue.

However keen you think you are, I am keener!
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