Aylesbury Green Park Sub-Aqua Club Aylesbury Green Park Sub-Aqua Club British Sub-Aqua Club

Finding Nemo 33

We travelled by Eurostar to Brussels Midi – surely the most civilised way to go. Our hotel, the Art Hotel Siru was on the northern edge of the city centre, surrounded by the steel and glass of the Sheraton hotel and Brussels' financial district.

Each room in the hotel provides a mini showcase for a European artist dating from between 1989 and 1990, making them all unique. The building itself is a little down-at-heel but provides perfectly acceptable 3* comfort. Typically the breakfast is a buffet, with bacon and scrambled eggs, cold meats and cheese and lots of lovely crunchy bread – certainly enough to satisfy the average hungry diver! The hotel stands at the top of the longest pedestrianised shopping street in Europe, the Rue Nueve/Nieuwstraat (Belgium is a bi-lingual country, everything is in French and Flemish, which can be a bit confusing, especially on maps) – with enough credit card-crunching opportunities to keep the non-diving other half happy while you get down to the real business!

From the hotel you cross the road and enter the Metro to catch the no 4 tram, headed for Stalle. From the terminus you have only to cross the road and there you are – easy-peasy!

Once inside you present your diver qualification to the lady at the desk, pay your €22 and you’re in. All you need to take with you are your swimming gear, a towel (I borrowed a hotel one…), a computer (you can hire one for €3) and a mask (optional). All other gear, including a mask if you want, is supplied.

Exterior of Nemo33, Brussels
Each session lasts one hour. After changing you go up the large pool area for a safety briefing and 15 minutes free swimming and diving (10m limit). Then you select your kit from the crates lined up along the wall, grab a tank and away you go! Note: not all of the previous group of divers were bright enough to distinguish between the areas for full and empty tanks so we had to change a couple of times before finding one with a reasonable amount of gas. Surface of the pool
Once you are in the pool you really discover how BIG it really is.

The pit is 33 meters deep (hence Nemo 33) I actually clocked 34.5m and my other half claims 34.7.

Down in the depths...
The top of the pit has a bubble screen across it and I found this quite a challenge to get through. I am very buoyant and you aren’t allowed any weights – to keep the risk of lead contamination of the spring water to a minimum. Eventually I managed to get onto the ladder leading into the depths and down we went.

It is quite gloomy at the bottom and there isn’t much to do. There are large chrome staples in the floor which are handy to hang on to, but after a couple of circuits it was time to go up.

At the top of the pit is a swim-through with a couple of ‘grottoes’ to surface in.

One is decorated like a cave with stalactites and stuff. The other is the inside of Captain Nemo’s submarine.

Inside the Nautilus
At the end of the swim-through is the 10m pit which has nice big windows so that you can pull faces at the people awaiting their turn (as if…)

At the end of the hour – you are trusted to make your own safety stops, no deco allowed – you leave the pool, put your kit away, remembering to put the used tank in the Empty section, shower and dress.

The pool is heated to a very pleasant 30°C by solar power and there is a nice big panel for all the technical data.

On the inside, looking out
Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow... A diver
Then, being Europe and nice and civilised, down to the bar and restaurant for a post-dive drinkies and lunch.

The whole operation is well organised and smooth. You can pre-book a session if there are 10 or more of you, otherwise you just turn up. My only slight gripe is that there is no (little) shop, no where to buy souvenirs or little bits of kit.

On the inside, looking out
Brussels is a nice city. The people are friendly and speak three or four languages – everyone speaks English. There are some good museums, all the European Union buildings and a lot of historical stuff in the centre. For the evenings there are dozens of little restaurants crowded together along four or 5 narrow streets, all offering fixed price and à la carte menus – mussels (moules) are a speciality, you might even say, an obsession and they are served in dozens of different ways. But there is something for every taste (even veggies) and, of course there is the wonderful Belgian beer and those calorie-rich waffles…

Enjoy! www.nemo33.com – most of the site is in French. The English version has been “under development” for at least a year…

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