Finding Nemo33 with DiveMania Scuba.
Passport, Credit card, PADI card and Euro spends – all done and ready for the 0400am meet at the collection point outside the Queens Theatre, Hornchurch.
I lost count how many times i set and checked that the alarm was on so i didn’t miss the coach pick up time, how much stick would I get from Frenchy and others for that !!!!
It was a dark & damp start with varying degrees of slumber which made the 4.15 depart easy for the trip to the Eurotunnel at Folkestone, via Maidstone for the Kent connection collection. After a short stop for the obligatory coffee and breakfast bun, it was all systems go for the 35 mins travel to France to begin the 2nd leg to Nemo33 in Brussels, Belgium.
Now the first thing that springs to mind for me when you mention Belgium is chocolate, waffles and fruit beer, not the one time 10 year record holding deepest indoor pool in the world with a, you’ve guessed it – a 33 metre deep fresh water vertical shaft to practice those essential scuba and diving skills.
Its located about 6 miles south of Brussels on the E19 in a light industrial area. The outside belays the modern and stylish interior, complete with a comprehensive dive shop, bar area and fine food restaurant with views into the 10 metre staging area. Everything you need, in case you forget it, is available, as well as shiny things that you don’t !
You get an hours slot to change, brief, free dive and then descend into the abyss for the remaining 45 minutes. Don’t fret if you forget your mask or fins – they have them available on the side for you to borrow. The only thing you’ll need is pool kit, a towel and some 50 cent coins for the lockers. If your doing two dives, keep the locker in between dives, maybe share it with others as it can get very busy and you’ll want to put wet kit somewhere instead of carrying it with you during your two hours minimum surface interval.
There was the inevitable race for the bottom with people descending like skydivers into the depths, fanned out and ready to reach the bottom to get the deepest reading they can on the obligatory dive computer. Divers cling like limpets to the bottom grill with spent air spiralling skywards and cameras come out to snap the deepest reading they can.
As you ascend, its like a spa bath near the top as the bubbles races to find the surface catching you out and giving you an extra lift. At the 10 metre point you can leave the dive shaft and enter a partially covered area with some internal constructions to explore and remove your regs to have an underwater chat with friends or meet like minded new ones.
Once done we had a meal in the restaurant area and OMG, its quite simply the best Thai food i have ever tasted. It was certainly not what i expected in terms of quality or quantity. I thought sitting with 6 blokes at our part of the table would leave me short of grub, but how wrong i was. There was plenty to go around and the silence at the table confirmed that i wasn’t the only one enjoying the nosh. If nothing else its worth the trip just for the food alone, well almost !
That only left the final coach trip into the centre of Brussels to the St Nicholas Hotel so we could continue to post dive events until the Sunday evening return to the UK.
If in any doubt about how good the trip was, take a look at the DiveMania Scuba Facebook page and see the growing collection of photos and videos. The 2017 trip was posted within 24 hours and I gather it was booking fast within a day or two.
Here’s to the 2016 trip, Happy memory’s and a great weekends diving, Cheers DiveManiacs ;-)