On Saturday September 29th 2007, the newly-arrived American grantees and the Belgian dues- paying alumni gathered at the Cultural Center Ter Vesten in the heart of Beveren.
Ms Christine De Brabandere (Master of Art History & Guide of Flanders) was our guide for the entire day. During a walk through the beautiful gardens of the Cortewalle Domain, we learned about the huge kitchen garden and the several statues. We then had a complete tour of the ground floor of Castle Cortewalle, that can only be visited in a group accompanied by an official guide. Although this castle is a rather well-kept secret, the President of Uruguay with the top brass of Katoen Natie visited the premises only a few days before us.
We admired the family castle of which the oldest part dates back to the XVth century. Until 1960, it was the home of the Counts de Brouckhoven de Bergeyck. It was explained to us that the large wall paintings have many hidden meanings in their composition. The great collection of coats of arms in wood, in marble and in the stained glass windows enabled us to see how marriages were arranged and the family history was recorded. The magnificent entrance, two living rooms, the library-smoking room, the two salons, the private chapel were all exquisite halls. Even the old toilet was worth being seen.
The Fulbright party then proceeded to Koetshuis Cortewalle. This coach house is now an excellent restaurant and the old feeding and drinking places for the horses have been beautifully integrated into the décor. Our delicious lunch was served around a grand table in the warm and wonderful Orangerie of Cortewalle Castle.
In the afternoon, under the excellent guidance of Ms. De Brabandere, we drove through the Waasland Harbor, part of the Port of Antwerp situated on the left bank of the river Scheldt. We visited old remnants and saw new creations. All truly interesting places but too many to enumerate and elaborate on in this report. For example: the windmill of Doel, the village which will soon become a ghost-town; the Liefkenshoek Fort from the XVIth century which was improved under Napoleon’s rule and later used as a quarantine island for the sick who were taken off the ships; the newest tunnel under the river Scheldt, “de Liefkenshoek Tunnel”; and the almost completed Deurganck Dock with the many Chinese containers stacked up nearby. We were told that all around the new docks on the left bank, the level of the polders has been increased by some 6 metres with sand dredged from the river.
A final drink in CC Ter Vesten was the end of a most enjoyable Beveren day. Even with the wind, the rain and the spectacular clouds, it will remain a cherished souvenir of another great FAAB event.
P.S. Pictures of this event are available for viewing or ordering at http://picasaweb.google.com/guy.hermans/FAABSept29
Mrs. Nora Hietarinta-Zonnekein