‘t Forum

‘t Forum – Okapi Aalstar

Getting to the venue

Okapi’s venue is in Aalst in Belgium. Once in Aalst it’s a short walk from the centre or there is a car park at the venue if you want to drive.

We got to Aalst by car and parked in an Interparking car park as our chosen hotel did not have parking.

The venue

The venue itself is not that big but they have used every bit of space to get more seats in. The seats themselves are of the hard plastic variety, common at basketball venues.

There were a couple of bars in the venue but we didn’t try any out. This was mainly because the seats were so crammed together it was difficult to get out.

I would recommend checking your seat location carefully when you order. We were sat courtside at the end of the away bench. This was okay for us as were actually supporting the away team but it did make it difficult to follow the game if the team decided to stand up.

Aalst

There is a great bar called Bierhuis ‘t Apostelken which is just down from the venue. It has a beer menu and sells other drinks as well.

Sleuyter Arena/Versluys|Dôme

Team – Telenet Oostende

Getting to City – We take the Eurotunnel so we can drive the whole way.

Going by bus is cheaper but longer. You can also get there by train from Brussels or Antwerp if you are already in Belgium.

City – There is a good amount of things to do in Ostend. I have personally experienced the Promonade and the Atlantic Wall Museum.

Getting to Venue –  Ostend is not huge so if you can easily walk from your hotel, if you are staying in town. There is also a large car park if you are driving.

Venue – A good sized venue with the usual plastic seats.

Food in venue –  The venue has four bars and sells the usual range of options.

 

Antwerp Sportpaleis

Team – Antwerp Giants

Getting to City – Antwerp has an airport, you can fly there from London and several other European cities. We tend to take the Eurotunnel as the drive is only a few hours (you can easily drive there on a Saturday, watch a Saturday evening game and return home on the Sunday, assuming you love within about 3 hours of the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal).

You can also get there using Euroline buses but that will take significantly longer.

Antwerp – If you like cobbled street and Belgian beer this is a city you should visit. If you are planning a Eurotunnel overnight trip you won’t have a lot of time to see the city unless you allow for an early Saturday start and a late Sunday return.

If you do have time to explore, highlights include:

  • the Grote Markt (market square)
  • De Koninck (brewery)
  • St Anna’s Tunnel

There are also several museums, art galleries and churches.

Getting to venue– Your ticket to the sportpaleis will give you free transport on the trams to and from the event and there is a tram stop just outside the venue. If you are planning to travel around from earlier in the day or the following day a daily tram ticket is 6 euro if purchased in advance (8 euro if purchased on the tram).

If you choose to drive to the venue there is ample parking which is 5 euro for the duration of the event.

Venue –  This is a large venue, also used for gigs I believe. The venue is well signposted so it is really easy to find your seat. The seats themselves are the usually plastic seats found in sports venue so there are average for comfort.

If you are not used to Belgian venues an important point to note is that you will be charged for using the facilities (washrooms/restrooms/WCs) so make sure you have some change to hand, about 80 eurocents each should be enough.

Food in venue – The venue gets massive bonus points for efficiency, they have a great system for pouring and serving drinks so even if there is a big queue it won’t take long to get served. The usual fair of beer, wine, sparkling wine, fries etc. is available. Price are reasonable.They have a large Haribo stall but I think this is overpriced.

 

Gravelines Sportica

Team – BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque

Getting to Gravelines

We drove to Gravelines, which was relatively easy. There is a train station  to the south of Gravelines so you can use public transport to get there, but this will involve three trains and although two of those journeys are nice and short the frequency of the trains will mean the journey can take several hours.

Gravelines itself

There are a couple of hotels in Gravelines as well as restaurants and bars but this is a small town so there is not a huge range and definitely no chain venues. (Which is a good thing in my opinion)

Getting to the venue

If you are staying in Gravelines you can easily walk to the venue, it takes about 20 minutes from the centre. It’s an easy walk which feels safe.

There is a car pack at the venue so if you are staying further away you can drive. The locals seem to prefer to park by the side of the road to avoid paying for parking.

There did appear to be bus stops on the road but I didn’t see any buses while we were walking so I am not sure how frequent they are or the route they take.

The venue

The venue is a sports centre, there is a swimming pool in the same builidng. We were there on a nice day and it was very warm inside the building although the locals did not seem to be as affected by this as we were. The basketball hall is a good size with seats on all sides of the court. A large section of the roof is glass which is nice but was adding to the heat in the venue, and there was no obvious cooling system in place.

The seats are proper seats with backs, but no padding.

The blocks are well signposted and each row tells confirms what block you are in and the seat numbers for that row so it is really easy to find your seat.

Food in the venue

You have to buy vouchers and use those to buy the food. This seems unnecessarily complicated, especially since the two counters are back to back.
The value makes it worth it though. Hot dogs are 3 euro, water is 1 euro and you can get beer or soda for 2 euro 50. It is a small beer but it is good quality small beer.