After a slightly hassle-filled journey (taxi stuck in traffic in Dublin, bumpy plane to Amsterdam, tickets not printing, late trains, epic walk) we reached the hotel in Antwerp, which was lovely despite giant unimpressed lady staring at us from the wall behind the bed. Antwerp is not a terribly exciting city though, and it got old pretty quick. We did some sightseeing, but also an awful lot of sitting drinking coffee/Fanta and reading. The cathedral was pretty fab (though I enjoyed the crypt more than the paintings cos I’m weird like that), we went to the Rubens Huis, which was well worth a look too and wandered around the old town.
Fangirling was really the name of the game for this city, as we had gone to see the gymnastics and we happened to be staying in the same hotel as Team China and Team Canada. I nearly lost my life when we met Zhou Shixiong and Lu Chaopan in the lobby and later we saw Huang Huidan, Zeng Siqi, Yao Jinnan, Shang Chunsong, Ellie Black and Morgan Scott. No sign of Victoria Moors though. Spent the evening in a state of nervous excitement, opening the hotel room door every time I heard a voice outside in case it’d be an idol… It never was. The gymnastics themselves were awesome, I’d predicted the AA podium pretty much although I was crushed Yao Jinnan didn’t medal. But I still love Mustafina.
The second day was even better, as we were sitting a few rows up from the US delegation, and I got to meet Brenna Dowell! I also saw Aly Raisman, John Orozco, Alex Naddour and Sam Mikulak but competition started before I could get up the nerve to talk to them. Loved hearing Aly scream for McKayla, Kyla and Simone though. Giulia Steingruber was also sitting in front of us, but I’ve met her before (at the Olympics) and she was looking a little irritated with people constantly asking her for autographs/photos so I left her alone.
(Please note: all the people mentioned above are gymnasts. The gymnastics talk has now ended!)
Amsterdam was the next destination (via a marginally less stressful train journal that evening – see picture of me not being impressed with Dutch rail efficiency) and that’s where we are right now, on our guesthouse boat. It’s pretty basic but cute, although I haven’t quite gotten over my fear that I or my bags will land in the canal tomorrow. We had a pretty chilled evening and day, as we’ve been to Amsterdam before and didn’t really feel like the touristy stuff, so we wandered around, had tapas with friendly cat buddies, and enjoyed waffles, coffee/hot chocolate and so on. Tonight we are eating Indonesian food (apparently that’s a thing here, as is Argentinian food, but we thought we would save that for Argentina) and going to bed earlyish (I hope!) Tomorrow is an early start as we are flying to Rio and so the adventure will really begin….