After successful underground events were held in Canada and the United States, explorers from Europe decided to hold an event in Belgium - a country with tons to see and do. With many many thanks to Bsidez
, "Urbexation 2006" was organized to take place at Chartreuse with the cooperation of the caretaker.
We arrived late in the day, still weary from exploring Cheratte
in the morning. A few people were wandering around with carbide lamps and climbing gear, exploring the underground bunkers and caves; I decided to shoot as much of the building as I could before the sun set behind the gray clouds above us before settling down and meeting everyone.
I was taken aback (again that day) at how incredible the place looked; the soft light accentuated vivid colors on almost every brick, and even though the buildings looked utilitarian and plain from the outside, the interior was riddled with graceful archways and curves in the walls, doors and windows. French, German, and even American writing remained on the walls, slowly peeling off into unintelligible chips of paint. I didn't get to see the entire place (even missed the prison building, but I returned in 2007 for that) before the light faded into hopeless oblivion. So it was time to drink.
Most of the tents were set up in the large courtyard, but I decided to camp inside the building as it started to rain. Soon enough the giant gates were closed and locked (this neighborhood in Liège was pretty seedy), and the campfire roared with life while everyone met, many for the first time. It was great to put faces to names of people I've only spoken to online, and to meet new people from many different countries, all sharing stories about our adventures. The rain started coming down in torrents so we all filled the wide tunnel-like corridor that cut through the building, and it was quite an amazing scene! Headlamps and flashlights of all colors and sizes swung around like a underground rave; good people, good food, and good beer were everywhere. An exploration video was shown on a projector on one of the walls... it was hard to focus on watching it with so many people to talk to.
Eventually when most of us got pretty lit, a group of people who were still awake thought it would be a good idea to explore the underground bunkers nearby. We stumbled outside in the pouring rain with our beer and flashlights, trekking across the field of thick, viscous mud. Even Yak, the guard dog didn't follow us out there! My shoe became stuck and came off, but I was quite entertained... after about 20 minutes of exploring the bunker it seemed like a good time to head back for some sleep. I passed out hard on the concrete floor soaking wet but happy, but the headache ensuing the next day was not fun at all!