MCH wouldn't be MCH if we wouldn't arrange a meeting every now and then. We started with the 2001 Belgian visit - which was held with the 13th. ABCV show as its main point of interest - in which Frank , Hilde (Catho soon to be born) and Matthias welcomed both Francesco and Stefania from Italy and George, Christine and Johnny from Greece . In 2002 the Belgian team found a good baby-sitter for both their kids and had a very nice Greek holiday in Athens and Syros. The Italian family was not able to be present, but in 2003 they managed to meet with George, Christine and Johnny in Greece. The Belgian family was the missing link this time as they were happy to welcome Carli from the U.S.A. This year, 2004, would have to be the year that we would all manage to meet again. Agendas were compared, which is always much more difficult than it shounds, but due to the overlapping Orthodox and Catholic Easter a good date was found and approved! The location? No reason to discuss it: Rome, The Eternal City..
Rome it became, and surely nobody has regretted this even for a single moment. Francesco and Stefania who extended a warm welcome to all of us, the delicious Italian food and many fantastic cups of café and cappuccino they prepared for us, the historical Roman and Vatican patrimonies we saw and admired, the nice weather we experienced and finally the happy MCH company including Leonardo that brought many laughs and joyful moments, all resulted in an unforgetable experience. Here comes the visit report seen through the "Belgian eyes". Instead of producing a second article on the same issue, Frank and George decided to combine photos and comments in one single article. Whenever you see the letter "G" in front of a paragraph, photo or comment, it stands for George. The main article was written - of course - by Frank !DAY1, The arrival:
This time we also decided to leave our children with my parents, as we think they're still a bit young for such a trip. With an age of almost 3 and 5 years they still need a lot of attention all day long, and we as parents would need an extra set of eyes on our back to watch every (bad) move of them, so we wouldn't be at ease for a single second during the whole visit. Still Wednesday started very early for us, as we had to catch our 8.35 am Virgin-express flight. Take into account we needed a quick refreshment, a 50 minute drive to the Brussels airport to get there 2 hours in advance for a smooth check-in which forced us to get up at 5.30 a.m. Once boarded on the Virgin-Express airplane it took us only 2 hours to reach Fiumicino airport where our holidays started for real! My wife Hilde already had been in Rome on a school trip 13 years ago, but for me this would be the first introduction to this famous & ancient European city. After collecting our luggage and checking the L260 "Queen Arabesque" catfish, a "live" present for Francesco, we walked to the exit where we met the Capo! We were heartily welcomed by him, but didn't intend to stay for a too long time in the airport, so "Come on", all bags were put in the car and there we went!
After a short struggle in the suburb roads of Rome we soon arrived at Stefania's house where we were also heartily welcomed by her and Leonardo. We left our luggage in the room that our kind hosts reserved for us and offered the presents that we brought for each member of the family. Special attention went to the live fish, as this little fellow had been extremely active on the evening before the trip. The Hypancistrus sp. L260 "Queen Arabesque" was carefully unpacked and transferred to a floating breeding nest (from which it escaped soon after - told you he was a very active little guy!).
Francesco driving his car: a familiar sight during the whole MCH meeting.
Hypancistrus sp. L260 "Queen Arabesque"
Then it was time to sit down and relax and have our first café. Hmmm that tasted very good! We talked and laughed, what soon became the main activity during this MCH meeting. Time went on and after a tasty Italian lunch we paid a short visit to Lago Di Bracciano in the afternoon. We took a nice walk through the old village and enjoyed a delicious ice cream. On our way back Francesco bought a whole wooden dish with strawberries. This held a promise of a culinary feast, and not just for the first evening!
Hilde with Leonardo on her arm. Both seem happy!
Frank & Francesco at Lago Di Bracciano. We had just finished a delicious ice cream!
One of the many gorgeous cactii in the garden. Francesco loves them!