ICC-Weekend#2 in Antwerp, Belgium

With this post, I am finally finished catching up with stories from events which happened last year! Sorry that it took me so long…

ICC Belgium came up with a 2nd successful edition of their ICC weekend and I was glad to be part of it once again! Not that I want to spoil anything in beforehand, but the arrival and departure – at least – was easier than the year before, which involved a lot of train changes and my first Blablacar ride. For the complete story and more detailed info about the ICC weekend itself, check out this post.

The ICC weekend took place from November 8th until November 10th and I departed from Hamburg where my internship was still ongoing back then.

I departed by bus from my place in Hamburg Ottensen to Altona to take an S-Bahn service directly to the airport. Fortunately, I finally got used to the train station layout of Altona, made it to the platform and asked which way to walk in order to board the right train part with direction Hamburg Airport.

On the train, I called up the airport and they assured me that they would pick me up around the time of my arrival. When I got off the train at the airport, nobody was there yet to pick me up. However, a nice couple approached me and offered to take me to the check-in counter. I appreciated the offer but asked them to stand by, whereas I called up the airport to find out where the assistance was. Assistance was on its way, but it would still take them 10 minutes or more, so when I told them that some passengers offered to help me, we agreed to meet the assistance at the check-in desk.

Later on, we found out that we were all flying to Brussels and we negotiated with the airport staff that assistance in Hamburg wasn’t necessary anymore; we just stayed together until we took our seats on the plane and split up.

As usual, we received information on whom- and where to meet in beforehand via Email, and my assistance found the meeting point easily and handed me over to the ICC volunteers standing by. Once all the participants were picked up, they drove us to the Scoutshuis in Antwerp.

This time, I found myself in a room with 7 other participants from Greece, Italy, Czech Republic, Belgium and the UK. Where were the other Germans? There weren’t any; I was the only one! 😀

What – once again – irritated me in first place was that only a very limited number of room-mates got a key-card for the rooms but eventually, I think they just deactivated the key-card system so we could enter our rooms whenever we felt like it.

After dinner and a short welcoming-ceremony, we split up for the usual leisure-time activities. Later on, the ICC café opened up and some of us hung out and explored the near surroundings for bars when the ICC café closed down (in other words, business as usual)…

The next day started with the usual two workshop phases with coffee breaks and lunch in between.

Leisure-time activities followed after a short break after the workshops to relax. This time, I went for the guided city tour.

After dinner, a farewell-party took place in a bar close to the Scoutshuis rented by ICC Belgium with Anthony (also known as DJ Pitch) as the DJ. In comparison to the first ICC weekend, organizing a farewell-party outside the Scoutshuis was definitely the better option in order not to disturb the neighbors and anybody who might have decided to go to sleep earlier.

The last workshop phase took place on Sunday morning and after lunch, the first few participants departed home. During the city tour on Saturday, Silke’s mother told me that – if all goes well – she should drive us to the airport. When I asked what she meant by “if all goes well”, she replied: “Well, you never know what’s gonna happen…” Of course she was probably just joking back then but seriously, wouldn’t it be boring if I had nothing else to write than “The trip went smooth all the way”? I admit that – this time – I was a little afraid that we might miss our flights, but let’s start from the beginning…

Silke and her mother accompanied me and two of our friends from the UK to the airport. However, when we were seated in the car, ready to depart, the car decided not to work. Whereas Silke’s mother tried to get the car back to work, Silke called Julien at the Scoutshuis and asked for backup.

After a while, another volunteer picked us up by car and drove us to the train station, from where we could take a train to the airport (fortunately, Antwerp isn’t far away from Brussels airport).

We missed the first train to the airport because we confused it with the IC service to Amsterdam which eventually turned out to be the train to the airport. About 15 minutes later, we boarded the next train and finally made it to the airport.

My flight departed in about an hour and also was delayed by a few minutes, whereas the flight to the UK departed in less than an hour. Nevertheless, we all made it to our gates in time and the car was also fixed later on!

The nice couple who gave me a hand at Hamburg airport told me that they would also take the same flight back to Hamburg I was booked on as well. We haven’t met at the gate but thinking back, I really wish I met them so we could possibly walk to the S-Bahn in Hamburg together…

As always, unless I got company, I had to stay on the plane and wait for the assistance to arrive.

When they finally arrived, the flight crew and I just finished decorating the Christmas tree! Of course I’m kidding, but it took them 45 minutes. Additionally, our parking position was not exactly at the terminal building so they arrived with a special vehicle and aligned it to the plane.

I wonder why they don’t just put someone on the normal passenger bus to pick me up together with the other passengers. After all, I am just blind and except for my cane, I don’t need any other walking aids, nor a wheelchair or a special vehicle. Well, at least the S-Bahn trains depart regularily every 10 minutes so I was more than flexible.

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