Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Belgium, Pt 2 of 4: Bring out the Ghent

...Continued from

Belgium, Pt. 1: Australian Surfboard Upset (link)

Not to belabor an already archaic 90's reference with a GIF, but...

21 month old Levi pilots his very first Boeing 767 to Europe!  More adorable cockpit photos are below.

Previously, on Pt. 1:  Last month’s Australian surfing weekend was a bust for me, though my parents (and Mike and Summer, this month) enjoyed their visits Down Under.  After hanging out with my good buddy Joseph in Hollywood, I flew home to gather my family for another overseas trip.  Sadly, caring for our sick four-year-old daughter delayed that trip an additional week.

Once Lena’s fever broke, the Hamiltons flew standby from Portland to Atlanta to shop for some open international flights.

En route to Atlanta: “Hey Mommy, let’s watch ‘Frozen’ for the third time this week!”

Our late evening touchdown at the Atlanta airport dashed any hope of same-day overseas connections.

We checked into the Atlanta Sleep Inn, which conveniently had a Ruby Tuesday restaurant 75 feet away from the hotel lobby.  Weirdly, that Tuesday’s location was somehow out of every single menu item that poor lil’ Lena ordered.  After several unsuccessful return trips to the kitchen, the friendly waitress predicted that the manager would comp us a Tuesday's appetizer or drink for Lena's disappointment.

Nada.  Thanks, Ruby Tuesday.

This Ruby Tuesday location has a skimpier kid’s meal selection than a small town diner's during the zombie apocalypse.

Lena and Levi tag team Daddy in the Sleep Inn lobby

The next morning, Kathy and I debated the merits of various international destinations.  We finally settled on Belize for its exotic outdoor adventure potential:  hiking, volcano climbing, surfing, cave diving… But then I discovered the return flights to the States looked too full.

The Wi-Fi network crashed at the Sleep Inn, so we shuttled back to the Atlanta airport to continue the trip planning on our phones’ internet browsers.

ATL curbside check-in

Overseas flights from Atlanta with open seats were limited that day.  I boiled it down to two final choices:  Germany’s Cannstatter Volksfest (the world-famous family fair near Stuttgart) versus western Belgium.  After estimating a whopping savings of 250 Euros for passing on the Volksfest, the inexpensive hostels in Belgium won out.

I’d already visited Brussels a few times and was obviously looking to branch out (check out this link to my previous father-son Belgiumtravelogue).  I tweeted my Twitter friend Sofie from the Belgian-based Wonderful Wanderings travel blog, asking her #1 pick for Belgium.  We didn’t expect Sofie to have a chance to reply before our departure, so we checked in and hustled to the gate.

Levi and Lena requested multiple do-overs on the ATL people mover

Levi boards his first international flight, with veteran traveler Lena

Learning that this would be Levi’s first overseas trip, the Delta flight crew lets both L’s in on the cockpit action before takeoff.

A pilot group stole..., er, "regrammed," my Instagram photo below, and Levi's adorable photo got 4,700+ likes!!

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

15 hours later...

Though we got split up between Business Elite and Coach Cabin seats during our flight overseas, all of us landed safely together in Brussels.

A tweet from Sofie came through as we cleared Belgian Customs., She had a few ideas and an enthusiastic recommendation for our next stop.

Ghent it would be!

Coming up on Garth’s Blog…

Belgium, Pt. 3 of 4:  Going Medieval on Ghent

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