Do you ever get to 2pm on Saturday and you’re just like, ‘we gotta get outta here’? It happens to us a lot..we’ve just gotta explore, stat. Especially with this crazy Belgian climate. We wake up in the morning, look at the map and do a very scientific-like calculation of driving time x amount of sun x temperature. Similar to The Day Tripping Bowl of Destiny, but less fancy. That’s how we ended up in Tournai last Saturday. Well, we showed up and were still lacking a bit on the sun, and it was still a little on the chilly side so our walking was limited to the area to just around the cathedral. That was fine because we still got to cross something off of our UNESCO list, but the rest of this little town we’re going to need to save for a sunnier, warmer day..but, really. these photos are some of my faves, so I wanted you to have a peek..
Tag Archives: day-trip
Just when we thought spring had sprung, we woke up on Sunday to another dose of winter. The ground was a fluffy couple layers of white, so we took advantage and headed to one of the more picturesque areas of Belgium we’d had on our list. Abbaye de Villers is a Cistercian abbey founded in 1146 (!). The abbey was completely rebuilt by the 13th century during its high point. The estate covered a good twenty-five thousand acres with 100 monks and 300 lay brothers (I mean, whoa). It wasn’t until the French Revolution that the abbey was abandoned in 1796. Today, the ruins make for an exquisite day trip if you’re in the area. For springtime photos and the inspiration for our trip, check out Cheese Web’s article.
Also, I told J that he should write this post since it’s his photos and his story to tell ( I was kinda just dancing around this place. It’s whatever.) and he maybe uttered two sentences that I’m supposed to remember at this point how? So, I’m just going to let the pictures do the talking and if you need a story, HERE‘s one. I probably reference her story once a day because obviously.
I couldn’t choose which were my fave,
so I went a little cray with the photo uploading.
Click here to see the whole lot of ’em..
Ever since our stop at Maison Leffe on this tour and the first time we drove through this craziness right HERE, we’ve been itching to get back to Dinant to check out this fab little city. It’s got some serious history, landscape, and tunes. The first mention of this city was in the 7th century..yeah, didn’t even have a 1000th place. See below for stunning views. And it’s lined with saxophones for a reason..birthplace of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone. Continue reading
So, we have this book. It was a wedding gift from Mr. and Mrs. Smith. A travel book for the Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) and our plan is to highlight everything we mark off and keep notes in it, so that it’s completely filled and then when we head back to the states, we can give it back to them along with a book from another area of the world and say ‘ tag. you’re it.’ Wouldn’t that be fun?!
Totally. So, Sunday we opened said book to a random page. Ypres, Belgium. Never heard of the town in our lives. Let’s go!
Driving up, it felt like any ole country suburb. Then we got to the gates. A brick wall lining the city. Like back in the day, with a moat and everything. Once you entered the city, the entire town had the same medieval feel.. complete with ponies (ok, they’re rides for the Christmas market, but still).
Ypres is known for its horrendous battles, the worst being WWI. Every last bit of the city was torn to shreds. They rebuilt it from the original plans, so its a fairly new old town (props to the travel book for the info). There are war monuments and cemeteries on many corners, the biggest being the Menin Gate that that the British built in the city.
The center of the town and skyline are dominated by Lakenhalle – or the Cloth Hall, one of the largest commercial buildings from the middle ages. The complex includes a 70m belfry that is one of the 56 inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was built to keep watch for threats to the town. Oh, and was tall enough to throw cats from. Really. The thing was used to throw cats from the top, and now they celebrate the tradition every three years (now using stuffed animals).. makes sense.
Firstly, I have a (large) touch of claustrophobia. I’ve been known to jump out of elevators as the doors are closing because there’s too many people. I about freak out when I can’t get my shirt over my head quick enough….what if I get stuck and my hands are just flailing around in the air and there’s an emergency? And don’t even get me started on tunnels….so pointless. so dangerously pointless. (I know, I know, Minke, they serve a very important role in the Brussels transportation system. But bridges are good too.) I’m tense even thinking about it. And I hope all of my friends survived the Dallas park opening over the indeed pointless new downtown tunnel….I’m completely convinced that they did not account for all of the weight that the park is supposed to hold. Okay….
So secondly, on our trip to Luxembourg, we visited the Casemates du Bock. The Luxembourg fortress. The first tunnels were dug out in 1644 for underground defenses below the old castle..lots of canons and storage area for explosives. The entryway stairs lead down to the huge archaeological crypt. More stairs lead down through dungeons to the casemates themselves, a series of long tunnels down into the rock parallel to the road above. Crazy cool.
The views looking out from the fortress were incredible..
But then we got to these stairs. Y’all. These stairs weren’t playing around..
J went down them and left me up top. And I tried to go down them, I really did. But there were people coming up and they were going so slow and then I thought I heard more people and then other people were just standing looking at me while I kept calling J’s name and they were getting too close to me so I ran to a window-sorta thing for air and then J came up and said it wasn’t worth it. Phew! But, really. I tried.
But we made it outta there.
And, hey, we got to cross off a site on the UNESCO world heritage list!
Just in time for Halloween..
Oh, Luxembourg. You and your gorgeous views.
Saturday, we set off to the East to check out Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. It’s full on fall here and as we were driving through the trees with their every autumn shade showing off, we passed an exit sign for Paris. Oui. We live in an area of the world where there are exit signs for Paris, France. Man, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover in our two years here!
We spent the day walking through the cobblestoned streets, checking out the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Grand Ducal Palace and the Casemates du Bock.
Last Saturday, we set out to have lunch with some friends in Grimbergen, Belgium, just north of Brussels. It was rainy..typical. The town was lovely and quaint. Very old world with cobblestoned roads and sidewalks. Even the smell reminded me of an old fashioned movie, which J tried to tell me was the perfume from the ladies leaving church.
September is the very last month that I can pretend it’s still summer. No doubt that back home, Tiger Stadium is warm and beautiful and, of course, never rainy. Oh, to be able to wear flip-flops right now! Mind you, we went from 103F to 60F (or something like 15C) two weeks ago. We wanted to get in a beach trip before it gets unbearable for my little nose over here. So, on Saturday morning, to the coast we went! And, while we’re at it, why not make it the French coast!
We were in some way expecting a grand welcome from our southern neighbor…maybe even just a sign saying that we had entered into a new country period. Nope. There was just a small sign 500 meters before telling us we were about to enter into France, that only J saw. That’ll have to do. At least it’s more polite than the typical Belgian signs that I can’t help but read in a yelling tone. Instead, the landscape spoke for itself. I’ve never seen such impeccably manicured countryside. Allman Brothers ‘Blue Sky‘ and the insane scenery around. The only thing more perfect would have been an automatic car so that J could see the sights too. Hehehe
First stop, Dunkerque, France: