Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A trip to Leuven, Part 2

Leuven, August 31 continued...

After viewing St-Pieters Church in Leuven, my friend B and I looked for the Hospital Museum Histaruz, which is a museum with a medical collection from the 1920s-on recommended by the Use-It guide. We missed it when we first looked for it because it's set within the Universitair Ziekenhuis Sint-Rafael which takes up several blocks on Kapucijnenvoer Road; we finally found a sign for the museum and entered through a courtyard on the building, turned right, then turned left to go in.

Two very nice volunteers welcomed us in English (unlike what the guide had said) and we paid our 2 euros each for admission. My initial impression? Um, it's rather creepy!

Looks like an abandoned hospital from a horror movie...

Uhh, wheelchairs with no residents in the chapel?

Want to practice injections with a fake arm?

I'm a baby in a bottle, baby, you gotta...wait a minute, wrong song.

The hospital didn't become less creepy as we continued. Some parts of it were dark; others weren't, but it was hard to unsee what we saw in there -- look what greeted us in one room!

The tumors in wax weren't very uplifting.

Even worse was the dentistry room. This picture is really alarming! They're sticking what amounts to a crowbar in the guy's mouth and the guy looks like he's going to hit him in the mouth with a mallet.

Another picture, this time a print, was really disconcerting. It must have been so bad that I forgot to photograph the whole thing, but here's a part of it where a monkey is trying to perform dentistry on a bird. It's a total what the heck type of moment, and the rest of the print is even worse! There's some guy in his long johns getting dental work done and there's a cat in the room. That just doesn't seem that hygienic!

Another room had a lovely collection of urinals.

We were ready to go but apparently we missed seeing the basement. A volunteer came running after us, very worried that we didn't see the whole museum, and even escorted us to the stairs so we would know right where to go. Since she was so earnest, we felt that we had to see the whole museum. The basement was a continuation of odd leftover hospital equipment. There was even a room full of old computers just stacked on shelves.

We finally had seen everything and thanked the nice volunteers. It was a really odd visit; it was almost as if the hospital had been shuttered with everything in it, then reopened after only the ghosts were left. It's worth a visit for those who like offbeat adventures, creepy dolls, and scary medical devices.

Thirsty after our adventure, we stopped at Carrefour, a supermarket, to buy a drink. Look what we saw: there is the American version of Mexican food available there, Old El Paso brand products. Oh, OEP, how you have branched out to the international markets.

Old El Paso brand salsa and guacamole in Carrefour, Belgium.

While we were there, a guy approached us and asked us something in a language that I couldn't even begin to place. B. said that we were sorry, but we didn't understand him. Apparently, between the 6 or so languages we know between the two of us, whatever he was asking wasn't in any of them! The guy said something else in whatever language it was. We all looked at each other, perplexed. He then said something that sounded kind of like "sucré," which would be French, I guess, but the rest of what he said didn't sound like French, so I really don't know what it was. Quickly improvising, I asked "azúcar?" (Spanish for "sugar") and he nodded so I took him to the aisle with sugar in it, pointed, said "aquí," the guy said "gracias," I said "de nada," and B. and I were on our merry way. B. was a bit shocked, I believe, that I was actually useful for a foreign language for once as I'm usually relying on him for everything other than English. I don't think the guy started in Spanish but at least we were able to end on that common ground.

After that, we ran into this fellow on the street at the River Dijle. He is Paep Thoon, a 15th century organist at the Saint Pieter's Church who was sarcastic and always telling jokes, but there was truth in what he was saying.

Since we had basically started worshipping the Use-It guide, we decided that we must do its bidding and visit the "Ugliest tree" in the courtyard of Sint-Geertruikerk. The only problem was that we weren't quite sure which one it was! There were two that were kind of ugly so we looked at the Facebook page for a picture, found the correct one and gave it a hug.

It was time to leave for Mechelen after giving the ugly tree some love. As we were leaving town, I was struck by a hunger for some corn, which just happened to occur when we drove by the odoriferous Stella Artois beer factory.

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