This week I had a brief visit to Belgium in order to attend a project kick-off meeting with one of our customers. Myself an a colleague took the Eurotunnel over on Wednesday, attended the kick-off meeting on the Thursday morning, and headed back home on Thursday evening. The travelling wasn’t too bad as it was motorway all the way, and aside from getting caught up in traffic around Antwerp both ways, it was fairly free moving.
The real treat of the trip though was the hotel. When the customer sent us a map to our hotel, it placed it somewhere in the centre of Out-Turnhout. However the confirmation from the hotel had a different address – Priorij Corsendonk or Corsendonk Priory. It turns out that the company that owns the hotel in town, also owns the old priory in the village of Corsendonk, which it now operates as a hotel and conference centre, and this is where we had actually been booked in.
After the several hours on the road driving the three hundred or so miles from home, the village of Corsendonk was delightful – with almost no traffic, and very peaceful. The village is small enough that the addresses in the village only have a number – the roads have no names, so the brasserie – Corsendonk Hof – where we had dinner was number 2, and the priory itself is number 5. The priory has been very tastefully restored, retaining a number of original buildings, but with some additional more modern blocks for accommodation. We had modern ‘monks rooms’ – read single rooms – in one of the new blocks, however we did go up to the main priory building for breakfast.
The hotel is in the Flemish part of Belgium, and whilst he doesn’t speak Dutch, the language in that region the colleague I was with spoke pretty good French, the other national language in Belgium – however it transpired that he spoke significantly better French than most of the people we met. In most cases they preferred to speak to us in English both in the hotel and on the customer site. As is common, there were points where the English translations were slightly strange, for example, what do you suppose is Turkey on Spies?
There was also a decidedly strange paragraph on noise nuisance in the hotel information…
The farmer across [the road from] the hotel possesses a cannon that starts working in case of thunder and hailstorm in order to protect his apple trees from hailstones and other unpleasant things that can occur during intense thunder showers. That is why it can happen that the cannon goes off at night. In case of other noise do not hesitate to notify the reception so that we can help wherever necessary.
Now I’m not quite sure whether cannon is a mistranslation or what – but having worked in the past on a project that managed to translate ‘Company’ as in corporation to the German word for ‘to keep somebody company’ – I know how easy it is to mis-translate one word and produce un-intentional hilarity for native speakers of whatever language it is. But then what do I know, maybe the farmer over the road really does have a proper cannon!
Having said that, we weren’t woken by the farmers cannon, and it certainly seemed like a nice spot either for a break, or for a conference. The hotel has an English website and you can find a few snaps in and around the priory in our photo galleries.