Report - - Getting Sweaty In Europe - August 2012 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Getting Sweaty In Europe - August 2012


Brian Blessed's Codpiece
28DL Full Member
It's about time I wrote something up from our trip to Europe in August... It was a long time in the planning so it was great to finally make it onto the ferry at Dover and get under way with Subversive, SarahSaw and MeTwo. Having said that, the first day was a day of fail.

A huge thanks to anyone and everyone who helped with location details for us, there are far too many to mention. You know who you are.

Day 01. We rolled up at Villa Grammaire, went for a little walk and upon turning the corner on the driveway we immediately spotted a man standing in one of the front windows painting. Being a Sunday coupled with the lack of white vans, this can only be the owner. So back into the car and off to Chateau Zufall we go. It's ok, we tell ourselves, this one's epic. Because when it comes to UE, everything is either Epic or A Derp.

After parking far too far down the road, we eventually find the place and make the fence look super easy. The place is pretty well sealed though and it took us a good half hour to get inside. As it turned out, the call of epic was a little premature. It was stripped out for renovation and there was nothing to see save for some empty rooms with stripped floorboards. Crap.

Roll on Antwerp and some food! After drowning our early sorrows in coke and milkshake, we headed to Crachoir Piscine where we finally got to see something as we expected it! I really wasn't fussed about the place if I'm honest, not at all. It's just a swimming pool. So I didn't photograph it.

The corridors are one of the nicer features of this old swimming baths, built in 1915 and active until 1999. It was built in the first world war to prevent all of the local workforce from being transported from Belgium to Germany to work on the war effort in their factories.

So things were on the up. Did I mention the heat? It was hot. At times I thought I was melting. With that in mind we decided sleeping on the roof of something was much more desirable than sleeping in an old swimming pool changing room where the only clean areas were almost certainly still in use. We headed to The Comet Factory and spent a lovely evening listening to a water pump evacuate water from a trench somewhere below us, but it didn't matter, we were all far too tired to care.

Day 02. Come the morning, come the time to get out before the workforce arrive and make enquiries about why we moved in to the top floor of a derelict factory for the evening. We probably knew enough French to ask about breakfast, but I don't think we'd have explained the rest away too well.

We headed first to the abandoned monastery of St Fakobus for some comedy entry. Because only three of us had suitable equipment to get in we had to relay items back and forth while trying not to lurk outside in a suspicious fashion.

St. Fakobus is one of several abandoned monastery's in Belgium. Unfortunately we couldn't get into the main chapel but there was a smaller chapel and a small selection of other rooms to see. On the site of a XIII century castle a monastery was built in the 1930s. The religious order has left and the site awaits reconversion.

When the time came to leave again I made the walk to the exit in the second relay, climbing up and out and wondering where the others had pissed off to I dumped my gear on the ground and as I'm half way out a cyclist passes by 2 feet from where I'm frozen in place. How they didn't see me I'll never know, I could have reached out and grabbed them. Next!

Another monastery was up, the more famous St. Hilarius. It's a bit of a struggle to find any details on this site, perhaps speaking french would help but the locals seem to struggle too.


It's a part of a live site, and they're obviously very used to finding rapscallions such as us snooping around inside. We bumped into a woman who, after asking us to leave, mentioned that "work" was starting the following week so we wouldn't be able to get in after that. I don't know the nature of the work, but I hope it's to convert the monastery into a usable space again without destroying a lot of what makes it charming and unique.

Site the third was the equally infamous Horror Labs. Subversive had tried this a couple of weeks earlier with Keitie and 2wid, and was evicted unceremoniously at gun point, so we were a little apprehensive. This time though, we got lucky.


The basement of "The Horror Labs" is the last real feature of this old veterinary school, where the bulk of the samples have been removed - presumably in slow preparation for the development of this, the final building on the site.

This macabre scene features various Frankenstein's Monster styled formaldehyde specimen jars, containing anything from lungs and livers to whole dogs heads.

Not a site for the squeamish.


It occurs to me now that our days were often themed, and the theme of day 2 save for the labs was obviously religion. Our final destination of the day was one of the highlights of our trip - Chapel Rose. When we were planning our little adventure, this was first on my list.


Chapel Rose was built between 1290 and 1308 as a convent and hospital, occupied by the Augustinian Sisters. Around 1600 the entire complex was destroyed by fire, after which it was rebuilt. The oldest parts that have been preserved date from that period. In the 19th century the south and west wings were partially demolished and rebuilt.

We got lucky with this one, knowing nothing about access we turned up at the perfect time of day. The chapel shares its location with a live building site, so an evening entry is pretty essential but it did mean we couldn't sleep there as planned.


So we got back in the car one final time and headed off to Home Sweet Home hospital for another night under the stars in peace and quiet. Or so we thought.

Abandoned since 2008, this care home for the elderly used to house 221 residents before they were relocated to a new facility opposite. Unfortunately metal thieves have now systematically moved through the place and ripped it apart. They appear to be doing this at night, by taking anything of value and hurling it from the windows to the ground below, seemingly regardless of what floor they're on, whether the window has glass remaining in the frame, or how much noise they'll create by doing so. In the UK the police would have been there within minutes, but although the locals were all standing outside their houses listening, nothing was done to stop it.

We heard them when we parked up, but we didn't have a choice. It was too late to go somewhere else so we walked in and up to the roof. They heard us entered and went quiet, so we settled down, barricaded the roof access, and unpacked - hoping we'd spooked them and they'd leave. I went to sleep quickly and didn't wake until morning, but I was told they promptly started up again a half hour later and went on into the very early hours keeping everyone else awake.

But I had a great nights sleep, thanks very much!

Day 03. Rising in the morning, we went to assess the damage. They've stripped everything, and what was a more or less pristine care home is now royally buggered where two weeks previously it had been in pretty good condition. Such a shame.

Thus started our second day of fail. We headed to the old Stella factory, eager to see its' crown jewel - the brewing hall. But in the maze of the site, we couldn't find the bloody thing! We saw a whole lot of the place, but not what we'd come for. It was unbelievably hot for the third day in a row and the place was like a greenhouse. Combine that with the fact that we got split up and it really wasn't going our way.

Eventually we gave up and went to find HF6. The blast furnace is easy to find, but we couldn't seem to get onto the right side of an otherwise live site! Crap. But sod it, there's an old university just around the corner, we'll go take a look at that instead.

The old Liege University buildings are large, extensive and pretty trashed to be honest. It made for an entertaining hour but I wouldn't go out of your way. We made our way around the buildings, strategically avoiding the bank of parked G4S vans parked out front and made our way in and out and through. Coming to the end of this little explore, we arrived at the main staircase and could see the vans lined up below us. Only now there were two G4S security guards pulling up, chatting and joking. Since they were in no rush, we assumed it was just a routine patrol, and waited for them to move off before heading down the stairs and out the front.
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