As a nuclear engineer, I’ve become accustomed to business trips to the middle of nowhere (Los Alamos, anyone?).  So when I was visiting the Belgian nuclear research center in Mol, I was unfazed when my host said that there was only one hotel, and no taxis, in Mol.

But when my girlfriend and I arrived, we were stunned to find a beating heart in this comfortable little Flemish village — a lively summer street fair, Europe’s largest heavy metal music festival, and a town coming together around an outdoor showing of one of Belgium’s World Cup matches.

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After checking in to the Corbie Appart Hotel (comfortable beds and an amazing breakfast spread, if you’re in the market for lodging east of Antwerp), we made our way to the street fair.  There were food vendors, a Brazilian music and dance group parading through the streets, realtors handing out free waffles, and sales at every store (presumably to coincide with Paris’ semi-annual sales).

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Since we missed out on a shopping day in Paris due to a train-to-Mol mix-up, this was our first real shopping opportunity, of which we took full advantage.  Afterward, we enjoyed a lovely pasta dinner al fresco with a Belgian Duvel before retreating to our hotel room to chat with the S.O.’s.

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The trip to Mol took us through the hauntingly beautiful Antwerpen-Centraal train station.

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