A Travellerspoint blog

DAY 148 - Friday 25th September - Maastricht to Westerlo

'Groundhog Day (well more like Groundhog Night)'

A quiet evening, chapters of my book read and soon turned into bed, sleeping with not a stir in the night, not even the flickering of the street lamps disturbing me as I snored away...well that was until Ellie at 1am was standing right on top of my as i lay, licking my face and stamping her eagerness on me to wake on up. This could only mean one thing...she needs to toilet!! So as its cold out, and getting colder inside, with slight hesitation i resist getting out of my sleeping bag in the hope that she just wants a cuddle...nope definitely wants out! Body out of the warm ish sleeping bag and into the cold interior, jumper on, coat on, joggers on, socks on, boots on...yes yes Ellie i'm rushing i promise, just because you can rise and toddle off with a permanent coat as your only clothing!

Ellie's lead on, door sliding open and off we go but as we are on an industrial estate we are on a mission to find the holy grail of that tiny bit of grass to use as a toilet, as only grass will only do for my girl! After a desperate Ellie finally finds her very spot i see now what the pressing issue was and its an upset tummy after seeing what liquid has just come out the far end! The deed is done and we head on back to sleep to re-energise ourselves with this interruption as we have an early start to begin our adventures as dawn comes. 2am Groundhog Day, Ellie standing right on top of my as i lay, licking my face and stamping her eagerness on me to wake me up. Really, really, are we really really sure?!? So body out of the warm ish sleeping bag and into the cold interior, jumper on, coat on, joggers on, socks on, boots on, Ellie's lead on, door sliding open and off we go. Another grass spot is found as you can't go to the same place twice.

Yep she certainly did need the toilet once more and once more the tummy is still upset bless her as my brain racks back and forth to remember what she may have eaten today to cause this. The deed is done and we head on back to sleep...3am Groundhog Day, Ellie standing right on top of my as i lay, licking my face and stamping her eagerness on me to wake me up. Am i reliving the dream, are we seriously still needing the toilet?!? Seems so, so body out of the warm ish sleeping bag and into the cold interior, jumper on, coat on, joggers on, socks on, boots on, Ellie's lead on, door sliding open and off we go.

Yep toilet was required once more, what is it that she's eaten?!? This happened a couple more times in the night to early morning so at 7am we just got up to get ready for the off as weren't allowed to be here after 8am anyway. Mind you being in an industrial estate isn't one in which i was planning on wanting to spend my morning in anyway! With a car pulling up to the shop, manager looking personnel, we get in gear and to head away at 7.30am and back to the said castle. We sit waiting for the gates to the interior car park to open as we sit outside and then i ask, 'what time does it actually open?!' As i sit and wait i'm still not sure that this is what i'm meant to be seeing but a castle is in my head for some reason in Maastricht to see. Is there more than one i suddenly think, that old classic?!

As i look around its still not quite sitting right, its called a castle this place and its in Maastricht but its really nothing impressive to see from the car park views at least; and as i look into the distance, over the other side of the river, higher up in the mountains, i see another castle type looking building. Could i be on the wrong side of the river....hmmm, I'll hold that thought until the gates open here and then it happens, it is the moment of truth, the gates are finally open! I decide to take a little walk on through first, without Ellie, just to have a look around. Hmmm, not quite what i was expecting but there is a road/pathway in which I could head over to the other castle type building on the other side...but i can't see a bridge.

Next i decide to head back to drive on through the gate as there was apparently another car park further up but as i followed the path i suddenly slam on the brakes...now this doesn't make sense at all. There was an e-z up, a marquee as it were, getting dressed with tables, looking like it was setting for a wedding...right on the roadway!!! I was just too tall to drive on under it but it didn't seem best to do so and i saw nothing ahead other than moving further away from this castle called place and no bridge to get to the other one i could see in the distance. Abort the mission, abort, abort, abort!!! What next to do.....

I sit and think....and think....and think....this could take awhile!! Hmmmmm, what to do. One idea springs to mind and i grab the old sat nav and input places to visit nearby and another castle in Maastricht seems to pop up, popping up in the direction of the other one over the river...could it be, could it be that i'm at the wrong one?! So getting petrol on route (gutted now having to pay Netherlands prices) we head on off to the other castle and 20 minutes later sat nav says that i've arrived but i'm not really seeing anything. We are technically where the other castle is that i saw in the distance but on closer inspection there isn't really a speculator sight to see so i head back to whence i came.

Back at the car park and not really knowing why i've come back to here, i decide to head to the nearest McDonalds as i'm still not wishing to spend money on data allowance, definitely gone over the budget and with Mel still to come for a mini break need to hold back so i need free internet! All i need to do is just find out as to why it is i am here as i deleted the screengrab of this town thinking the Netherlands was done and dusted on my phone. Hitting their car park the wifi signal isn't quite reaching the van and so i need to head into the toilets to hide myself and get the webpage back of what the top 10 things were to do in the Netherlands. One slight issue, the toilets are not hidden from the counter like the others so i get a hello from the server as i enter and go past her to the toilets, the guilt is set in and i feel like i have to buy something now on the way out.

Okay, website found and nope its certainly not what i'm meant to be seeing, and its certainly not even a castle i'm meant to be here for!! Its not a church, a monument, a building, a park, a canal, a harbour...what's really here to see is...wait for it....a Square!! McDonalds free wifi done and i manage to sneak out without anyone at the counter for me to feel guilty for using the toilet for no food purchased. Mind you over the years of going into McDonalds and not using the toilets in 90% of those times then i'm due some freebies i feel! Into the outskirts of town and we find a spot to park up which wasn't too bad. With a quick look at the sat nav before it shuts down to point me in the right direction I should be heading onto by foot we find this beautiful Square in the old town of Maastricht, paved with old cobblestones and surrounding trees. There is an impressive Saint Servatius Church situation within alongside Saint Jan's Cathedral.

As you walk around you do so in Spanish and Roman ruins, sophisticated food and drink, French and Belgian twists in the architecture, a shrugging off the shackles of Dutch restraint even though we are still in the Netherlands. As we head back to the car, after putting a couple of hours on the meter, we walk over a rainbow zebra crossing and past a church that has been renovated to a very contemporary and highly priced 5* hotel with expensive cars sat outside with drivers in caps. Upon reaching the van i remember that today is in fact a Friday and it's only a week until i'm on the ferry to head our way home, 1 week after 21 weeks of exploring the western part of Europe, it seems to be going oh so quickly now. Oh wait, hang on, that also means that its one week to go until i'm back to work!!

Now what to do next as it's time to slow on down so that we don't get to Bruges too early for Mel and after a really rubbish night with Ellie's toiletry needs i think we should head to a campsite and lay low to relax. There is a place found and after getting there at only 12pm i think an afternoon nap is in order with the hope that the internet will keep me entertained and blogs to be updated before i get home. Ellie does some more squirts and i hope that its all out of her system now, so that we can sleep through the night.

Posted by emmabrown1014 08:17 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

DAY 147 - Thursday 24th September - Polleur to Spa to Liege

... to Maastricht 'Off to the Spa, but ended up playing Snakes and Ladders'

Could it be...could it really be that the weather is turning into that blue sky and warm sun that i've been accustomed to for the majority of this trip. No sympathies i know from those of you back at home reading this i have no doubt (!), but it is cold in this metal van which seeps on through to my bones, with no heating to compensate other than layers of extra clothing! So with my reliance upon the sun to warm up the van of a morning, and me, it means that on this very day i can finally feel my bbody defrosting from the night as i was debating that if the day was like the last few i'd get myself into a hotel room tonight.

Shower time and its like one of those you find at an outdoor swimming bath where all white tiles are grimy and the only heat this place can get is by the running of a hot tap. You feel that if you get yourself into the shower to warm your bones up know you will then find it difficult to put your toe outside afterwards as the tester as it may drop off from frost bite! That's it, trapped in the warm water til next summer! No time to hang around, just hit the showers and get on with it so we can get off to our next adventure, so i try to find the cleanest of the showers (well one out of the option of two) and after the dribble of hot water I manage to wrap myself in my towel before the freeze set in with a quick change into dry clothes. All done and hopefully this is the day in which others will follow to keep the sun shining until i'm home in just over a weeks time.

So off we pop, just 5 minutes down the road for our second try of exploring Spa which is a real picturesque town and often gets referred to as the 'Pearl of the Ardennes' as its nestled in a wooded valley surrounded by rolling hills and countless rivers and springs. Its given its name to all Spa's around the world so its no surprise that visitors from all across Europe come here for its healing hot spring water treatments since the 14th century. This place was also the home to the world's first casino, built in 1763 to cater to visitors and its also home to the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack, one of the most scenic circuits in the Grand Prix schedule.

We park the van up and wander through the park and i'm not quite sure what i'm looking for here but i'm strangely thinking I'm expecting to see a hot springs right in the middle of town, although I know that wouldn't really be practical so its not the best plan to have, unless its a fountain...but surely it can't be, there has to be springs of some kind. No, don't be daft, there isn't a spring in town...but as i'm not sure what i'm meant to be looking for i suddenly see a railway that goes up the side of a mountain using a cable car, well that's looking better as why build a railway if there's nothing to see up at the top? We head to the cable car and there it is, a sign, but not one of springs...but why, why are no dogs allowed in here?!? I look up and like Indiana Jones and feel that the treasure of the hidden Spa is all the way up there to seek out so a trek up the mountain side is a must.

We start at the bottom step and following the grey brick stairs, as it slaloms up and around hairpins, but it stops; just stops to nothing. I look for signs for the pathway to take next which feels like it will either be the ladder that gets me to the top or one to slide back down the muddy slopes to the bottom once more. I try to keep to the rail tracks heading on up so at least i can meet it somewhere up there but heading right, going under the tracks, there isn't much going on this way and its not a pathway to walk on really. So left it was and the pathway was of a better walking substance but i was heading further and further away from the rail tracks so I stopped and just looked straight up instead, technically i could climb up...this was a curse, with curses then coming out of my mouth as I thought half way up what on earth possessed me into thinking i was indeed Spiderman.

So as the pathways either side of me looking like they weren't the quickest option i started climbing on all fours up the muddy mountain side, and the steepness was one of me basically tipping forward on my toes! Ellie with her four paws and claws was heading up no problem, and with soil slipping under my feet as i was overreaching to branches to pull myself up on (and praying that they didn't break at the same time) I did wonder at one point if i could move no more. Looking down there was certainly more of a risk in heading back that way so going up it was...Ellie just turned and wandered back to me every now and then to check in on me, once she was satisfied that i was still on the move she toddled off once more!

Finally, after 10 minutes of climbing, i felt like Rocky getting up those Philadelphia Library steps to do my own jiggery dance at the top and wondered what i've got for my perseverance...looking around not a lot! A few more track curves to go up and i found an odd looking building which turned out to be the Spa...wait one cotton minute, i've climbed this mountain edge for the worst architectural building of a common looking Spa that i'm not even interested in using...really?!? This can't be it, where are the springs with us being this high up, there has to be a warm spring somewhere but there wasn't one to be seen. After feeling like i've got the bronze once more as my little arms were smaller than others my age who could hit the backboard quicker than me to get the gold at a swimming gala, i headed back down again but from the other side. Well as it turns out this route was so much better and that track i thought ceased to exist earlier was only a few feet long and the rest of it was fine...with steps!!

At the bottom i found some 60+ aged ramblers with their long socks pulled up to their knees and sticks to hand to make that climb themselves...in which i believe they were cheating as they were doing it on the easier side! They must have been here before! Once i hit rock bottom, in more ways than one, we wandered around the old part of town as i tried to figure out what next to do. Suddenly walking down a pedestrian walkway I felt like i was heading Back to the Future as a pensioner whizzed past us both encouraging then Ellie to pull on the lead to run after...what exactly was that?!

I look ahead and see that its now whizzing itself back to me and i'm not exactly sure if i'm seeing what my eyes are trying to tell me, is it really a 60 year old Marty McFly wannabe on a hoverboard?!?! Yes Ellie i'm with you, i'm not sure what i'm seeing either! Moving on to leave the man with his toy we find the casino and bump into some information boards of which the English could be in Japanese for all i could read as they weren't telling me much either as to where these elusive springs were. Wait one moment, i see the old Egyptian symbol for springs and i may have just found it but it means one thing...heading back up the mountain once more!!!! No, no and no 'springs' to mind but car, car, car is a better option as i saw from the top a road that headed up there!

Up the mountain by car we find the Spa building once more and in route there were spring symbol signs and as we passed the building i'm hoping there are more to follow but they suddenly stop. I turn back and spot ilthe symbol signs again but not soon passing the Spa it disappeared once more but all i'm left with in-between is a wooded area so i just park on up. There is another sign up I see ahead in the woods and the spring symbol is spotted on the map but its showing that its behind me and not in the woods...but the only thing behind me is...oh say it isn't true, oh i do believe that its only the fake ugly Spa building and not the NATURAL springs! I'm pretty certain that they haven't built the Spa over a warm hot spring for only customers to enjoy with exclusive rights for membership!! I give up, but not without heading down to a river thinking that may be a hot spring was hiding away but it was just that, a river. Right; enough of Spa exploration and back to the car for our next destination of Liege of which i cannot think about without saying 'My Leige' like i'm back in the medieval times, not that I remember those times.

So Liege is the largest French speaking city in Belgium after Brussels, an historical city situation along the River Meuse, seems like a lot of these cities do! Dating back to Charlemangne, Liege is a treasure trove of historical sites with modern transformations as you can see from the new train station to link it to Brussels and Paris. Emperor Charlemagne was born here and so was the writer Georges Simenon, the creator of the fictional detective Jules Maigret for you crime novelists out there!

After a few swings round the city i manage to find a parking space although with slight hesitation as there were barriers stating no parking with building construction going on around the square but others are doing so (so that makes it right, right?). We have a walk around past bridges, old buildings, a statue of a high diver doing a handstand on a high board, boats parked on up, an old cathedral that needs a good wash, water features in the main square splashing over marble rocks and then some arrangement of metal looking cages that could have a flame running through it whilst in a cold of beer garden back at home.

After a tour around the old town we headed back to the van as the night was coming nearer and after deciding were stay we headed off to Maastricht in the Netherlands to see a castle...well i think it was a castle, and the campsite is near to a castle...so it must be a castle right?! Think i'm slowly losing my mind to organise what i'm meant to be doing each and every day. On route and i need petrol but remember that the Netherlands is extortionate and I believe that i can park up here and get some back in Belgium the next day which was probably going to be the wrong decision as the rest of the day hasn't quite gone to plan! The campsite is found but there is one slight problem, i see the castle (although not the sight i was expecting) and i park up in their car park as the campsite was a locked gate just yards away. You needed a fob to get in and i didn't have one, you needed a number to call but i didn't want to use my allowance just for a phone call so i sat and waited but then i noticed that it was closed for the day...what next to do?? I was in two minds to just sleep in the car park of the castle but with people around, security cameras, it being the Netherlands and the place in which it was i knew there would be someone at sometime with a fine to fill out and moving me on my way, i headed on off.

Sooooo, next plan....what is going to be the next plan and i fast running out of petrol that i was trying to avoid getting in this country! I look in my guidebook and there is somewhere just a few miles away but its in an industrial park...but it is free. Heading on over, with the darkness setting in now, its here or nowhere so into the industrial estate I go and I eventually find the place in which to park which was right outside a camping store. Parking up there are street lamps around, a main busy road on the other side and it doesn't feel such a bad place to park up even though its only me left here. The cold is seeping through once more and so the blinds go down, the screens go up and the bed is made. Time to sleep and knowing we need an early off, as we are not allowed to stay here beyond 8am as one of the restrictions noted, it was early to bed.

Posted by emmabrown1014 08:51 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

DAY 146 - Wednesday 23rd September - Blier-Erezee to Spa to

... Polleur 'Wash Out'

Well what's to say about this day...not much as the rain was beating on down once more when i woke up with a cold nose. I spent most of the night trying to get warm and cursed myself that i should have packed the mini heater when i left but i didn't envisage this coldness in September! So the decision today was to stay where we were for as long as possible to keep dry. At 12pm, check out time, i ask for the electrics to be taken out and as i knew this would take them any age to do so i did some blogging in the meantime and use the free wifi...but not 2 hours later did i think that it would take!!! Of which i did have to walk back to ask them once again and its not as if this place is busy as its out of season with not many people around. With not being bothered about having a shower, as i needed the key and it was on the other side of the campsite the shower block in which i could use, i decided just to get on out of here and get myself somewhere else to relax in for the day.

First though we headed to the town called Spa to try and fit that in but with the rain as it was, and sodden already from asking them twice to take the electrics out at the campsite this morning, that i thought it best that we tried again tomorrow. Lets just call this day a 'wash out', as we can afford a day of doing nothing and also to make sure we're at a campsite where we could stream the Spurs game against the Arsenal in the League, Rumbelows, Carling or whatever that cup is now called!

Looking at the campsite guide there was one only a 10 minute drive from here so we can easily come back in the morning and start again to see this place which is known for its springs, even though they are warm, its not filling me with delight in seeing any more water today! The campsite was found and again as we were the only one of a few motorhomes here parked up and in a large open space section with just ourselves and a tent nearby (that i couldn't do in this weather!), whilst hearing the stream running on through surrounded by woods, we were settled.

Yes i could stream the match, no i didn't enjoy it but we're concentrating on the League and Europe...as all losing supporters would say!

Posted by emmabrown1014 04:01 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

DAY 145 - Tuesday 22nd September - Poupehan to Bouillon to

... Bastogne to Blier-Erezee 'Singing In The Rain'

Rain during the night, and a chilly one at that, so it was time to hit the showers to warm on up and i wondered just how long the token would last in order for me to do so! The hot water took a while to come on as i was the first in which ate up valuable seconds of warmth and once in i realised there would be no indication of when i'm about to run out of warm water. With a hot/cold combi tap the hot would just cease with the cold continuing until you pushed it off, that would be the only main indicator! Luckily i just heard a tiny click and so i jumped out as quickly as possible as i couldn't afford any coldness on me as the block in which i was in was a bit nippy too! After getting some form of warmth i head on back, trying to jump around the puddles as the most sensible form of footwear in this weather is NOT converse with its material design to soak in the wet.

The rain comes down once again and this time causing me a slight alarm as i've parked on grass, just grass that was already a little bit boggy when i parked up on it yesterday....hmmm, here's to hoping i get on out again and not be stuck in the mud! That's great as a child's game but not as an adult stuck in a campsite in the middle of no-where, in the pouring rain! As the rain keeps pouring, and the campsite owner said i could stay here until whenever with no check out time as its not at all busy, i decide to wait until it subsides and do some blogs. In one light section of rain i managed to walk Ellie but she's not fussed about a walk when its raining, bit like me too! On her chair, for where she sits during the day and sleeps at night, we now have a towel over it to keep it from getting too wet and muddy. So we now have a dry one for night time and a dirty one for the day!

The rain at 1pm kinda stops so we on head out of the campsite and over to Bouillon where there is a castle upon a hill to see situation by the river just a few km's down from here. As we parked up and started our walk in the light rain rain once more i was getting the feeling that i wasn't going to have that dry one today. With a walk around town and a visit up to the castle we were pretty much done, and in the end we couldn't go into the castle grounds as dogs weren't allowed as there were birds of prey there that were being showcased. Only five minutes from the car and that's went it came, the belting down golf ball sized rain drops that seeped into every part of my clothing...brilliant! Back into the van and with the coat off to dry and a change of clothes its time to see Bastogne in the hope that the rain subsides a little, just a little would be nice!

Now Bastogne is close to the Luxembourg border, so i did ponder if it was worth popping over to getting some really cheap petrol but there wasn't really time as with the rain delay and the darkness of clouds coming in to settle for the day its time to see this town where 1000s of American soldiers died fighting in WWII during the Battle of the Bulge. This town remembers those who sacrificed for their freedom and so for their legacy to live on in the hearts and minds of the locals they have built the Mardasson Memorial. This was built to honour the 76,890 American soldiers killed, wounded or missing in battle from the 48 states. You can go to the top of this monument and have a walk around as it was a circle with four pathways sticking out...but in the health and safety rules of the UK i know that the steps would have been sectioned off as it was so slippery up there! As i went for a walk around, with not much of a barrier to stop you from falling over (!), the concrete floor had been painted yellow and so had a shiny slippyness feel to it for when it rained...no grip at all apart from the steps that lead on up!

Safely back down and we have a walk around the grounds and the crypt before the rain starts to being that bit heavier again, thinking i just feel the wish for the dry and warmth...which the van doesn't really help with as when i'm getting rid of the condensation on the front screen its needing air con again in order to do so! That done and its to the Wood of Peace of which 4000 trees have been planted for the 50th anniversary and dedicated to the American veterans who fought in the Ardennes, Belgian combatants and all the civilians and soldiers who died in the winter of 1944-45. Every veteran who returned to Bastogne in 1994 chose a tree, which will always bear his name. It was also designed, the woods and only visible from above, in the image of the UNICEF emblem, a mother and child to symbol human tenderness.

We follow the brown signs to get to here, which wasn't in English as Wood of Peace but you could kinda get the gist from the spelling that i was heading the right way. Also TomTom knew of it also as a tourist attraction so off we went...then the sign turned right as TomTom wanted us to also but there wasn't something quite right as it was a single, muddy, bumpy and loose gravelly trackway. There was a parking sign up ahead but only enough for two cars and it was parking in the mud, then there was a left turning but for bikes and pedestrians also...and i've seen no tourists here and no where for tour buses and cars to park on up on mass. Hmmmm. What i could see here, as i turned on round, was something in the distance, and through the trees, a round pavilion of some kind with a muddy pathway to it.

So we headed back to the main road and continued on, as if we would not spotting that sign, and up ahead there is a car park, not a massive one, but a car park where i could see tourists heading on out and down an open pathway and into the trees way beyond. Now i wasn't so sure about this one either as it was miles away (slight exaggeration) from where i saw something which could be part of the 4,000 trees...but then again is it the trees in which i'm seeing now from the outskirts...not sure what to think. What i do know is that the direction in which they are walking i could park up at the muddy one round the corner and take my chances there of a sneaky shorter walk.

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together as when we walk up the muddy pathway, that i spotted earlier, just a minutes walk later and we came to the open ground in the middle of the woods in which situation here was the 4,000 trees as there were information boards, places to sit and plaques on each and every tree you could see. Those last tourists i saw walking on up from where i was earlier weren't even here yet, and weren't even there when i left 10 minutes later so i had the place all to myself, to take it all in. Rain was holding off at this point but as soon as we started on our way back again it started to fall and i wondered if Belgium is a rainy place in the month of September...feels like its the start of winter anyway! Once again i found myself, like many a point during the day so far, singing 'Singing In The Rain' with this weather as a constant reminder and trying to avoid those puddles!

Back to the van and still the rain is coming it left me thinking if i was just following the rain as i was driving North! Into the national park we go as the campsite I've found here is a) scenic in the woods b) has its own lake and c) free internet like the last! As i've got 16km to go my fuel light makes an appearance...why oh why before heading into a national park did i not get some petrol. It may have been with not wishing to get out of the van once again as i was loving the dryness of it all too much inside it! There isn't one indicated of a petrol station on route via TomTom so i ask for the closest one by which is another 1km from the campsite...i should be okay. Slowly goes it and i make it and as its an expensive one i only fill a 1/3 of the tank up and get a bar of chocolate for my troubles at the same time. The lady checks my petrol charge and checks the price of the chocolate by coming round to my side in which the price is marked. Something not quite right on the amount i can see to be charged on my card but i haven't got the energy to argue it as it's only 50c extra she's charging me, think she inputted the chocolate bar in wrong. Have a cheap drink on me tonight lady!

Next back to the campsite in which we passed earlier and with the front desk not open the restaurant let me in and tell me to come back at 6pm to check in. So i park on up but i can't get electricity as yet as there is a lock on the box so i'll wait until i can put the laptop on, at least i can get the internet on my kindle and phone in the meantime...before they run out of battery! So 6pm comes and we head on back where the man i speak to looks at my discount card and charges me €21 euros when it should be €16 but he just shakes his arms and head when i try to show it once again. Not sure what was going on and his english was okay but not enough to explain why he wasn't honouring the charge of the discount. I was wet and cold so again i couldn't be bothered to argue the point and he said that i needed to get the key from him in the morning so that i can access the showers as no point charging me for that for one night...i'm sorry, that would have been a charge on top of the €21! All i ask is for someone to come and allow me to plug in my electrics and he said someone would be there shortly....an hour later and in the pouring rain i'm having to walk over, a good 5 minute walk, to ask where they are and i left with a promise that someone is on their way. I was also cursing at this point as i couldn't get access into the shower / toilet block area for the toilet and he said that i must be using the wrong door. On the way back i go via the toilet block and there is another door but around the back which is open...another hour later and i'm still waiting for the electrics to be put on! So pouring rain again, again i'm getting wet, again a promise someone would come. Half an hour later and its the woman from the restaurant who was trying to help me before with the check in and was run off her feet being a waitress when i was last there...seems like she's doing everything now!

Electrics in and i try to get dry once more. With the internet stream being great i do at least get some photos up and watch the World Cup rugby games on for this day. After finally settling down and listening to the rain fall as its turned black outside we get into a chilled bed and try to warm it up...if i don't get a cold after this then just call me Superwoman!

Posted by emmabrown1014 04:00 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

DAY 144 - Monday 21st September - Mons to Namur to Dinant to

... Poupehan 'River Runs Through It'

Not much happening here of a morning so after taking a photo of Van Gogh old residents, no point going in as a) have to pay but more importantly b) they are just prints of his masterpieces, we are off to the city of Mons which is rich in history and tradition it seems as the town hall building on the Grand Place, constructed between 1458 and 1477 is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a Belfry. Here each year they hold an important event called the 'Ducasse de Mons' dating back to 1349 and the Fraternity of Saint George. Each June, the city is filled with visitors who come to witness the reenactment of Saint George slaying the Dragon...why don't we do this if he's our patron saint??!! As the dragon swings its tail at the crowd, spectators try to grab the tail and pull out its hair and ribbons, both of which bring good luck. This popular festival is recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity...erm a what?! Yep no clue myself what that is and therefore its existence! This year Mons will also be the European Capital Of Culture...again, a what?!?

What i do know of Mons is that the Town Hall's public toilets needs a good old clean as when you went in the smell of it was enough to send the rats packing...but needs must and all that! After walking through the buildings of time here it was time to head back to the van where we saw students now all dotted around with their sketchbooks open and a pencil to draw the architecture, monuments and landscapes for class. Me, i just walk past them, stop, bring out the camera, turn on camera, aim, shoot, turn camera off and walk on by...got my picture or art in a matter of seconds and i do believe that yours will take a whole load longer!

Next on the agenda for today is Namur, the capital of Belgium's French-speaking region, which sits along the River Meuse and surrounded by one of Europe's largest ancient citadels, first built during the 3rd and 4th centuries, and later reconstructed during the 13th and 14th centuries. This is the capital of castles with one called the Castle of Veves having a fairytale look and dating back to 1410, which overlooks the village of Celles and is still lived in by the original family. We headed to the top of the mountain to look upon the town below where there is a fort but this is closed...and a couple who looked to come to see it was disappointed as i showed them the locked doors. Ellie though was playing daredevil and loving it as she was walking on the mountain walls so that she could get a better view of the sheep down below that we could hear...certainly not afraid of heights this one, or has the most confidence in me to make sure she doesn't get into any accidents!

Back to the van and we stay by the side of the River as this is where Dinant is situation also. Here they have Caves of Han and the Grotto of Dinant that are some of the natural attractions that bring the visitors here. We park by the River and walk the km to the bridge and cross on over to the centre to see more closely the city's main landmark of the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame which was partially rebuilt after a massive landslide. What i also see is that there are flags of the world on the bridge in which we cross and large saxophones, loads of them on here and on the streets. They are all different and colourful and i couldn't quite get the design of what they were meant to be, so it was handy they each had a plaque on the bottom and it was one for each country of the world...well maybe not quite every country as there are 196 which is a fact left in my brain after a pub quiz one time!

The UK one, well leaves a lot to be desired but they had one all the same, with the Union Jack flying on the bridge also which makes me think just how close i am to coming on home, without too much incidents apart from the major city adventures to think back on! Another thing i saw was that there was an Andy Warhol exhibition here as Marilyn's famous portrait was everywhere to be advertised, they both certainly get around in this world.

So our next stop for today was to head to a campsite and i thought we'd go right into the national park and with only being 2 motorhomes in the whole of this campsite it felt like i'd parked up by the fast flowing river with it being just the two of us. The rain has held off all day until we arrived here so not much of a walk could be done so to be inside, and dry, but it was still a sight to enjoy from the windows of the van...i also feel that its gonna be a cold night and so one pair of socks is sacrificed (as they are diminishing at each and every wash!) as bed socks!

Posted by emmabrown1014 03:59 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

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