Day 4 – Monday, 22nd July 2013
The Caravan of the Force in association with Toys”R”Us started day four with an alarm call, a shower and breakfast before loading up Slave-1 and Slave-2 and heading on out from the hotel. Soon we left France behind and entered Belgium, travelling the two hours from Lille to Han-Sur-Lesse and the Caves of Han. It had been suggested we visit here, not only because of the obvious Han Solo connection but because the caves are a place of outstanding beauty, and boy were they right. Operating Manager Albert Joris welcomed us to the village and led the Caravan down to the entrance to the caves where we were greeted by the national Belgian press, photographers and locals before drinks and an interview with the papers. At noon we boarded the train, which took us through the forest to the cave entrance and a magical two-hour, two-kilometre walk began.
Words really can’t do the Caves of Han justice, nor can these photographs. Suffice it to say, this is a location that you really should make the effort to visit. Numerous portions of the cave are evocative of familiar Star Wars locations, especially the world of Geonosis, and it’s easy to imagine these and similar caves being a great inspiration to the artisans who crafted those imaginary worlds. Seeing the caves was a treat, but the biggest surprise was upon entering a large cave which occasionally houses a full orchestra. The Star Wars music blasted out through the cave, the accoustics perfect for the familiar strains of the London Symphony Orchestra and all timed to welcome and thank Jeremy and the rest of the Caravan for visiting. We were all honoured by the gesture and enjoyed a glass of wine with Albert in the hall. But the biggest cave of all remained: an enormous room 200 metres from side to side, it looked like the Genesis Cave from Star Trek II. Unbelievable, and even more so as we worked our way up the steps to gaze down on the scenery.
Leaving the caves with a traditional cannon shot, we were treated to a wonderful meal, then drove 90 minutes across Belgium to Brussels for a meeting with Stefan Cembolista and the Belgian Garrison. Our meeting place was the iconic Atomium, a 9-sphered construction built in the 1960s for the World Expo and designed to resemble an atom.
There we were treated to a reception with the garrison in the restaurant, which affored us an unparalleled view of Brussels. An hour later, after making more new friends, we posed for a series of photographs outside the Atomium and headed on to our stop for the night at the Holiday Inn Antwerp where Mark, James, Maureen, and Jeremy enjoyed a relaxed evening meal in the local town. A perfect end to a perfect day.