Day 7 - Friday, April 19, 2013 - North to Brussels; Pass Through Ardennes; Visit the Bastogne Historical Center; Memorial du Mardasson; Waterloo Battlefield
The wake up call came at 6:30. Our bags were to be out in the hall at 7:00 giving us plenty of time to get ready and have our breakfast. Vic checked the weather - it was 48° with 68% humidity.
Everyone was on time today so we were able to leave a few minutes early! As soon as we left the city we hit the early morning traffic traveling west and then north. We crossed the border into Belgium where we will be spending the next three nights.
The Kingdom of Belgium, another very wealthy nation, has been a trading center and crossroads of Europe, the Baltic Countries, Russia, and The British Isles. Famous for beer, lace, and chocolate, Belgium is a French speaking, nationalistic country!
We drove through the densely forested rolling hills of the Ardennes. The Battle of the Bulge took place in this region. In Bastogne we stopped for a visit at the Bastogne Historical Center.
Thousands of artifacts were on display in addition to video documentaries of many people who lived through the days of war in the Ardennes. The program, "I was 20 in 1945" was incredibly touching.
Leaving the museum that pays tribute to the American soldiers who defended Belgium in World War II, we got on the bus at 10:30. We made a brief photo stop at Memorial du Mardasson.
This huge five pointed star monument lists all of the divisions that fought in the battle on the 40 foot pillars. On the horizontal beams are the names of the 50 states of the USA.
There is a narrow spiral staircase leading to the balcony and an overlook of the battlefields. Climbing to the top for a panoramic view of the country side makes one admire the peace that was fought for over 65 years ago.
At 11:15 we drove back to Bastonge where Michael let us off the bus at the town square. Thomas gave us until 1:30 to explore, shop, and to have lunch. It was too early to eat again so we walked back near the museum and walked through the Carrefour, a French supermarket chain that we enjoy visiting in Brazil.
On our way back to the town square we stopped at Il Pacino, an Italian grill with pasta, pizza, and panini sandwiches. We noticed many high school students eating the sandwiches and took their recommendation for a tasty and hearty lunch.
Finding a clean and free restroom is beginning to be a challenge. Usually only the cafés that you eat in will allow you to use the restroom.
We walked back to the bus park in plenty of time to purchase an ice cream cone and then got on the bus for another adventure on our way to Brussels.
At 3:15 we stopped about 20 minutes out of Brussels to see the battle site where Wellington beat Napoleon in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo. Climbing the monument was not included in our tour but we had 30 minutes to look around, take photos, and go to the gift shop for a few post cards.
Before going to the hotel, Thomas took us all to A La Morte Subite, a typical brew house to taste the famous Belgian beers. As neither of us drinks beer we opted for a glass of wine and a Coke but the beer drinkers of our group seemed to enjoy this stop.
Thomas took us on a teaser walk so we could get the layout of the city and have an idea of what our tour will be like tomorrow morning. We walked back to our meeting spot and Michael picked us up and took us to the hotel at 7:15.
The hotel staff was swamped so Vic got our own bags giving us a little time before dinner at 7:30. Dinner was served at the hotel - we finished dessert at 9:00 and went to the room to get on to the Internet and complete the Journal for Day 7.
Accommodations: Thon Hotel Bristol Stephanie - - - Meal: B & D - - Rating: B