Summer day in BelgiumSat 11 Aug 2012
Unbelievable weather here today. Perfect for a picnic... and thus it was. Be sure to wear good walking shoes for a day out in Belgium, not flip flops - there is so much to see in a Wollonian castle marathon.
As the adventure started with lunch it was first up to some ruins for an outlook over Meuse
the the rolling hills that feature Southern Belgium. The landscape and meandering roads are simply beautiful on a summer day, with the frequently enclosing forest ways following streams and passing small collections of community.
From the ruins you can go to a small village with the strangest religious display I have ever scene. Constructed at the start of the 20th century the religious grotto
bares little resemblance to the world's most famous grotto... at the Playboy Mansion :)
This one has religious scenes depicted in oversize statues and sculpture, surrounded with rocks set in the most astonishing form.
Just below this site, is a small castle, bordered by moat. Upgraded goodness knows when, it is now topped with a German style house that defies style and architectural norms.
Onward to Dinant, Belgium, famous as river crossing town with a very chequered history, it is also the birth place of Mr Sax himself. The son of an instrument maker himself, ol' Saxy is credited with the most recent popular musical instrument invention, the Saxophone. Some reading reminds, how dirty that industry can be. Despite his success and credits, he was twice made bankrupt defending his patents against critics that suggest he stole musical valve designs from elsewhere.
Never mind that, he would turn in his grave at the boom boom from the techno dance bowl created in the city centre this day. The beauty of the river, cathedral and overlooking fortress was endlessly disturbed by Doof Doof punctuated by a techno version of Goyte's "Somebody that i used know" that is playing all over the world right now. Originally discounting Gotye's music on Youtube, his 9 piece concert at Woodford 2011 turned me 180 degrees to be a big fan with his conceptually different arrangements and haunting voice no doubt the core of his International success. I wish him all the luck counting the money.... So far, all countries have made me listen, Malaysia, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium.
Dinant's lead onto some other ruins - overlooking someone's lovely country home. So many grand reminders of past nobility and wealth. I guess back then your display of wealth was somewhat limited. I mean, there were no private jets to be purchased, and a super yacht was impractical for inland owners, so the castle and a stable of fine horses was about it.... today, ALL the first world live in a way that would make the previously wealthy turn in their graves with envy... and its prudent to pause and consider that.
Next up was an Abbey location of sizable impression. You could see that early religion in Belgium identified ways to keep the congregation coming back for more... they produced beer! and it seems that the income was so great, that they could afford the greatest constructions for housing monks and nunns in great numbers. The grounds that I visited were still very active as a boarding school, with the beer brewing happening right next door. Very convenient and relatively transparent display of commercial income connected with education.
Finally, the day was passing and one final stop at Namur where another river meets the Muese for another outlook from the cliff top fortification over one of the regions largest cities. Some light reading confirmed that this too was a city that had seen virtually every war in Europe pass through, with WWI and WWII deviating the centre and demanding a rebuild after. Set against the disappearing sun, you could almost hear the cannon fire. Belgium and its chequered past... if you have an army, you should be sure to match through and join the esteemed ranks of Wellington, Napoleon, Montgomery, Eisenhower, Paton, Bradley and Adolf....
Its little wonder that Belgium people are so nice and embody their country with word "compromise", heavily armed hoards have been using their country as a frontline for years, likely with the locals ushering them on with "The bad guys? They went that way ->"