Bruges to Luxembourg

September 27, 2015

I drifted off to sleep last night with the faint sound of horses clip-clopping through the square below.  There are many carriage tours through Bruges some with far happier looking horses than others.  There are also canal boat tours and if we ever have the opportunity to return, that would be my tour preference.  I know that there are beautiful sights to see along the water but for today; unfortunately, our time was limited.  Each place we go is a trade-off for leaving another, or seeing friends along the way.  We wanted to be sure to have time to visit our friends so our time in Bruges had to be brief.

It is an odd morning when we are both up and ready to go at the same time.  Ah, but the Brevort awaited us!  Some of the information I had reviewed the night before said the lines to climb the tower could be quite long and the best time to arrive was first thing in the morning.  We were the first in line to buy tickets.  If ever in Bruges spend the 8 Euros and climb to the top of the Brevort.  There were just under 400 steps to the top but there were several platforms where one could either a.) study the interesting exhibits, b.) catch the breath, or c.) pretend to be fascinated by the exhibits while secretly needing desperately to breathe!  In the movie “In Bruges” Colin Firth’s character spots some obese Americans queuing up to climb to the top and makes a disparaging comment about whether or not they could possibly make it.  You do have to pass others on the narrow and twisting stairs and it is a little workout.  We did not want to be the ones to come tumbling down like the ever-growing ball of snow or to embarrass ourselves by being dreadfully out of shape.  We did neither.  Although we were the first in line we were probably the 4th and 5th to the top.  We paced ourselves, plus as we climbed we walked through the clicking clockworks and bells of varying sizes.  The town charters were stored in large oak trunks in the tower and kept locked behind iron gates.  There was also the most enormous “music box barrel” I’ve ever seen in my life.  I’m sure there’s a proper word for this (feel free to comment) but if you’ve ever see the inner workings of a music box there is a canister with little prongs poking out that trip the sound bars as it turns around.  This canister was probably 6 – 8 feet across!  We weren’t at the top of the tower on the hour when the largest bell would toll, but we were there for the quarter hour clarion bells.  from the Bruge clock tower in the morningThese bells chimed out tunes every 15 minutes; one of which was “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” (of which we got a wee bit weary before our visit was done).  To be standing right next to the bells as they chimed was an experience in itself.  Add to that the bird’s eye view of the orange-tiled city and a more perfect morning could not have been imagined.  We were even blessed with sunshine!

There are too many chocolate shops in Bruges to count.  Belgium chocolate is wonderful (think Godiva) and Bill and I both enjoy dark chocolate, but we didn’t feel compelled to taste or buy on this day.  What we did want to have was a “genuine” Belgium waffle.  There were street vendors selling waffles on paper trays but we felt like having a sit-down breakfast before leaving.  We were directed to Lilaloe café located in a repurposed area that once served as the local hospital.  “Once” as in perhaps several hundred years ago!

The cozy little courtyard was empty so early in the morning and we had it all to ourselves.  Bill and I each ordered a waffle with fruit and whipped cream along with a cup of coffee.  The coffee was served with a tiny little shot glass with something creamy.  I wasn’t sure if it was to put in the coffee or not.  I took a taste and distinctly tasted a little alcohol in what appeared to be the little bit of pudding underneath the whipped cream.  Bill; who is often more worldly-wise than am I, gave a taste and proclaimed it coffee amaretto.  It was a very nice little touch to the morning coffee.  We had nearly a half hour wait for our fresh waffles but upon delivery it was clearly worth the wait.  It was topped with all kinds of fruit including a gooey seeded fruit that would not be on my list in the future; pears, apples, grapes, pineapple, kiwi, plum, and even a tiny bit of citrus.   All served with a side dish of fresh whipped cream.  Now that’s a breakfast.  We were highly impressed.

Now that's a Belgian waffle

We left Bruges with some reluctance.  As I was attempting to navigate our way out of the city, an older lady pulled up on her bicycle alongside us at a stop light.  She said something quite serious and stern to us as the light changed and she headed forward before our turn right.  We thought perhaps we had something shut in our door, or perhaps a low tire.  It took us a few minutes to figure out she was scolding us for encroaching in the bike lane.  Slow learner, I.  (Or is it “me”?)

It seemed like a long drive from Bruges to Bastogne.  I had visited the WWII war memorial there in 2002 but considering Bill’s military service, I thought perhaps he’d like to see it himself.  Such enormous monuments are built in memory of wars.  This is no exception.  It is a five point star with the names of all 50 states along the upper sides.  The top can be reached via a spiral staircase (More stairs?  Why not?) and the views all around are breathtaking.  In this region fought the 101st Airborne Division.  If you’ve ever seen “The Band of Brothers” you would recognize this as the area in which the division was surrounded and entrapped.  It is sobering to be there.  This small band held off the German’s until relief arrived.  At one point the Germans had offered terms of surrender to which the commanding officer sent the reply, “Nuts!”  I may have that story a little off but the locals refer to one war museum as “the Nuts” museum. We had intended to tour the museum at the war memorial but two busloads of Frenchie’s on a tour had beaten us to the punch.  For the cost of admission (12 Euro each) and the fast approaching time of closure, we decided to trade for an early arrival at our B&B.

Bastogne war memorial

Somewhere between Bastogne and Feulen was a very large shopping center and a new, cheap camera with my name on it!  I’m hoping that my frustration will be significantly reduced for I have taken perhaps 15 photos for every photo salvaged.  I seem to have damaged the autofocus feature on the camera.  For 110 Euros perhaps the inexpensive Canon will be sufficient.  I sure am hoping so!

We arrived at our unique B&B, Oa6 Casa in plenty of time to be retrieved by Marcel and Irene later in the evening.  This place is also a wellness center located in what was pretty much the old farming community of Oberfeulen.  There is water therapy, massage, and sauna available to guests; some with additional costs.  We were given wrist bands to use to scan in and out of our rooms instead of key cards and everything was very new and modern.  As we were escorted outside and to our room I couldn’t help but notice the sweet/sour smell of fermenting silage.  Indeed we seem to be in the midst of a dairy farm.  A few minutes later cows were on parade through the street to their evening milking.  Pretty cool.

Oa6 B&B

Marcel and Irene picked us up shortly after 7:00 p.m.  It had been 4 years since we last saw them and we have all aged.  Some of us have gotten a little larger since the last visit.  I’d say Marcel and I fell into that category.  My relationship with Marcel and Irene is described in other blog entries but in short, they hosted my sister and I during a band tour in 2002.  I quickly fell in love with them and have kept in touch ever since.  Marcel was a hospital administrator (now retired) and Irene is a retired elementary school teacher who earnestly took up painting after her retirement.  On this weekend we had planned to visit, she is exhibiting her works of art for sale.

friends

We returned again to the Mertzig mussel festival where this year I “passed” on the mussels.  It’s a big community fund-raiser complete with beer, wine, music, sausage sandwiches, fries and (of course) buckets of mussels.  There was no way I could even gag down a mussel.  I now found the smell to be repulsive.  Adding to the delight of this evening was the fact that Marcel and Irene’s granddaughter, Lynn; and her boyfriend, Giacomo (from Italy) joined us.    Lynn and Jacamo Lynn and Giaco speak excellent English so that helped a bit though Marcel relied on her to tell stories throughout the event.  Poor girl.  We danced and sang and even heard versions of songs we had sung at the Almabtreib in 2011.  At one point I told Giaco that the song being sung was about Frau Meier’s yellow underwear and he said, “That can’t be!”  I wasn’t lying.  Bill had purchased raffle tickets for all and before leaving I discovered I had won a small ham or perhaps it was bacon?  Irene said it was for slicing and eating at breakfast or in omelets.  Unfortunately, I am a “ham-aholic” without refrigeration.  I gifted the meat to Lynn and Giacomo, but not before pondering if there wasn’t some way I could tactfully ask for just one slice?

the winning ham and my wrist roomkey

We were delivered to our room shortly after 11:00 p.m. and will look forward to coffee and breakfast with our friends before leaving Luxembourg in the morning.


Pictures

Bastogne war memorial
Inside a windmill
Now that's a Belgian waffle
windmill
 
 

1 Comment

Janine:
September 28, 2015
Looks like you guys are having a wonderful trip! Safe travels. =)
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