Europe 2010:
Day 1 - Belgium and Luxembourg [Main] [Contact Us] [Events] [Family] [Fun] [Garden] [Misc.] [Photos] [Search] [Site Index] [Travel]

Europe 2010: [Day 1 - Luxembourg] [Day 2 - Germany] [Day 3 - Switzerland] [Day 4 - Liechtenstein] [Day 5 - Austria] [Day 6 - Germany] [Day 7 - Czech Republic] [Day 8 - Poland] [Day 9 - Netherlands] [Day 10 - Belgium] [Day 11 - England]

Friday, June 25, 2010: It's a tie! Tom finally got to visit Belgium and catch up to Debbie, who had been here in 1986. This was his 53rd country and we had six new countries (and four repeats) ahead of us.

Any country with chocolate and Diet Coke vending machines (featuring artwork of the the aptly-named Mannekin Pis) is a great one, as far as we're concerned!
First stop: Waterloo!
"My my! At Waterloo, Napolean did surrender!" We took a brief ABBA musical break courtesy of Debbie's iPhone before visiting the site.
The Battle of Waterloo is commemorated with a large man-made hill topped by a statue of a lion, called the Lion's Mound or Butte du Lion, built in 1824.
There's a nice little centre du visiteur with a gift shop filled with things that are either too heavy or too unwieldy to bring home on a plane (sword, anyone?).
We paid our entrance fee and off we went.
Hmmm, it's 226 steps to the top. Doing this on the first day of our trip shouldn't be a problem, should it?
Oh, my. It's really steep up this hill. Check out the angle of our ascent.
Hey, we made it to the top! Yes, indeed, there is a lion up here.
Here is the charming Belgian countryside ...
... and here is the view back to the visitor center, including the round building, home to a large panoramic canvas painted in 1912 for the celebration of the first centenary of the battle.
In fact, let's go there next. Just 226 steps straight down, which took much less time than going up, oddly enough.
Orchy was good enough to pose for a photo at Waterloo.
In the Panorama building, we checked out the large round room with a 360 degree mural of the battle.
Lifesize (and slightly dusty) horses and troops populated the foreground, while a battle soundtrack played over the sound system.
Minding its own business by the side of the road, we passed this monument to Victor Hugo. Didn't he write a little book? Something that was made into an inexplicably popular musical featuring long boring songs that Debbie hates?
We headed southeast toward Luxembourg and passed through the cute Belgian town of Namur. A beautiful river passed through it and it featured an old fortress on a hill.
We were hungry and spotted this irresistible French Fries sign over a snack bar with a tiny deck.
With our limited understanding of French, we managed to order the house cheeseburgers and frites. The patties on the burgers were breaded and deep-fried. It was odd -- very odd -- but the fries and Coca Cola Lights were delicious and the weather on the deck was perfect.
Back on the road, we continued to Luxemb ... Hey! What is that?! Euro Space Center? Wha?
We didn't know that it existed and had to drive past helplessly, never knowing what space wonders it contained or what astronaut ice cream its gift shop offered.
But that's okay, because we've got a date with Luxembourg.
Or more accurately, the Grand-Duché de Luxembourg. Fancy!
After a series of unfortunate events involving a GPS, missed turns, and an apparently invisible hotel, we arrived at the Novotel Luxembourg City. It has a classic European city view ...
... and an awesome bathroom, featuring a separate room for the toilet. We love Novotels and stayed at five during our trip.
We headed across the Avenue de la Gare overlooking the Pétrusse Valley.
It's quite beautiful, but we don't have to tell you. See it for yourself.
We got our first glimpse of Europe's World Cup mania on the streets of Luxembourg City.
Looking down into the Pétrusse Valley, we spotted the Pétrusse Express, a mini "train" that offers a 45-minute tour into the valley.
We got our combo tickets for the train and the hop-on, hop-off tourist bus at the Place de la Constitution and snapped a shot of Orchy while we waited.
Here's the little train just before departure.
Off we go! The first 100 yards or so of our trip involved the city streets before heading into the park. The neon on this building says, "All art has been contemporary." That's pretty deep.
And down the hill we go, past this pretty garden, ...
... and this bricked up crevice in the hill, ...
... and under the Passarelle Bridge.
The Pétrusse valley winds along past buildings tucked into the valley walls, ...
... and little neighborhoods, ...
... featuring real Belgian people on the narrow streets.
We headed back up the hill, ...
... under an old bridge, ...
... and through the other side, where we had a nice closeup of the Bock Casements, a series of tunnels in the hill used for defense centuries ago.
Luxembourg is a great mix of traditional and ultra-modern, as evidenced in these townhomes.
Over this canal, we glimpsed the Grand Duchesse Charlotte Bridge, more commonly known as the Red Bridge.
Here's a view of the canal looking in the opposite direction.
This little pub did its best to appeal to soccer fans.
As we made our way back along the same route through the Pétrusse Valley, ...
... Tom posed for a shot showing the sound system, which consisted of buttons and jacks at the top of the car with many different language options for the pre-recorded (and highly dramatic) tour.
We had the entire car to ourselves since it was nearly the last tour of the day.
There are many ways to get to the valley floor from the city above, and this is one of the more scenic options.
We had a brief stop as we waited for the other train to pass us, so we took a quick photo of our lovely and not-so-authentic train.
Nearly back at street level, we got a nice shot of Adolphe Bridge, which we'd see replicated in miniature at Belgium's Mini Europe later in our vacation.
This building was named "Pole Nord," but there were no ice bars to be seen anywhere.
Back at the Place de la Constitution, we boarded the hop-on, hop-off bus. It was the last departure of the day, so we ended up sharing the top of the bus with only one other couple. On a beautiful, sunny afternoon, it was a great way to see the city.
The first building to merit a photograph was the Hotel Simoncini, in honor of a friend of Debbie's.
This is the Place Guillaume II.
Here's a pretty building.
Our tour took us along the valley's edge, so we were able to peek down and see some of the route we had just travelled on the train.
Roses were in bloom all over the city.
We crossed the Red Bridge, ...
... and headed down the Rue John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a street name that seems to be extremely popular in European cities.
The boulevard is lined with perfectly spaced trees, ...
... brand-spanking-new technology buildings, and unusual works of art. Check out the tall figurine in the bottom center of this photo.
Another cool building.
Every once in a while, though, there's a small field of sheep instead of a corporate headquarters.

We were too jet-lagged after our tours to go out for dinner, so instead we picked up some snacks and Belgian beer at a snack kiosk before heading back to our hotel room.

Day 2 >

Europe 2010: [Day 1 - Luxembourg] [Day 2 - Germany] [Day 3 - Switzerland] [Day 4 - Liechtenstein] [Day 5 - Austria] [Day 6 - Germany] [Day 7 - Czech Republic] [Day 8 - Poland] [Day 9 - Netherlands] [Day 10 - Belgium] [Day 11 - England] [Main] [Contact Us] [Events] [Family] [Fun] [Garden] [Misc.] [Photos] [Search] [Site Index] [Travel]

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