We woke today in our little Chateau to another overcast day. It was supposed to be sunny, but oh well that’s just the way it goes.
We opted for breakfast at the chateau because it was miles from anywhere, a little indulgent (at 15 euro each). but you only live once. In Belgium it seems you have to do it all yourself even in a chateau. At breakfast you had to squeeze your own juice, boil your own eggs, cut your own bread, pour your own tea. At dinner last night DB had to add his egg yolk to his carbonara. It was a beautiful setting at the chateau. Our room – Room 209 usually costs 245 euro a night. DB says luckily we were off peak. We went for a stroll around the chateau after breakfast to walk off some of the food we ate (cereal, yoghurt, fruit, nuts, egg, bread, cheese, ham, salami, croissant and fruit juice), a lot indulgent. Won’t need lunch today. It was a very pretty estate although a little damp and cold today at only 8′.
The houses in this area of Belgium are a bit different, all grey stone. We left the chateau and travelled through some beautiful countryside. Love the Autumn colours (reds, yellows and oranges of all different shades). As we headed to our next adventure we went through some road works when DB said “Lucky I had the trucks to follow otherwise I would have been pooping my pants”, as he had to go around a roundabout from left to right like at home. Before we went to Dinant, we stopped at Faelan for a 4km bike ride on – The Rail-Bikes of the Vallée de la Molignée. This was a novel bike ride and a bit of fun. On the ride there we didn’t realise we were going up hill untill on the way back we just rolled all the way home with an occasional pedal. It was very cold so we were grateful for the short distance.
We then drove to Maredsous Abbey, a Benedictine monastery. The Abbey was founded in 1872 in Molignée Valley by Benedictine monks, it is built in neo-gothic style that fits perfectly in with the wooded, undulating terrain of the region. Another grand building and church. Small is definitely not in their vocabulary in Europe. It doesn’t make sense to DB that they have such a huge building in the middle of an almost non-existent town.
We then drove to Dinant located on the River Meuse in the Belgian Province of Namur. Europe seems to have gone into restoration mode as soon as the summer tourist season is over. We walked around the construction zone of Dinant which was a little disappointing as the entire waterfront was dug up with fences all along the river. We saw the Church of Our Lady (Collegiale Notre-Dame) another amazing building, then crossed the Charles-de-Gaulle Bridge, along the bridge are several saxaphones celebrating the inventor who was born in the town. I had my photo taken with the Adolphe Sax Statue who was the musician who invented the saxophone in 1846. He played the flute and clarinet, and his other inventions are the saxotromba, saxhorn and saxtuba. After our indulgent breakfast we really didn’t need lunch, so at 3pm we decided to indulge in a few things Belgian. We stopped in a warm, inviting cafe for waffles, choc sauce, ice cream and cream with a hot chocolate made from real chocolate. They were both divine. We then bought some Belgian choccies (6 for 6 euros). A Couques de Dinant (the town became famous for these cookies/cakes during the Middle Ages, and still sells them in many of its small bakeries, in an astonishing number of complex and antique designs. People take them home as souvenirs as much as for eating purposes) and we then bought some jellies (6 for 4 euro). A bit of an indulgent afternoon. The chocolates and jellies were yummy. The cookie we can throw out after our first taste. You win some and you lose some.
Time to head to Amsterdam for our last night of our amazing adventure. A 3 hour drive was started at about 5pm. Obviously very bad timing as it is now 8.12pm and we still have 40 mins to reach our destination. As we were coming to the border of Belgium and the Netherlands DB said “I wonder if the lights will just stop at the border” (as there were yellow lights down the middle of all the highways). “Woohoo 130!! The lights changed and the road is instantly smoother.”
To anyone who has read all or part of this blog, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have enjoyed our holiday. To my tour director DB, thanks for an amazingly interesting, varied and fantastic time. You are the tour director and chauffeur extraordinaire. I am one lucky chicky.
Time to come home for a rest.