Thursday, 25 August 2016

Go east old man

It would be much easier to drive this rental car if the other idiots drove on the right other side of the road. I’m starting to adjust although  occasionally I reach for the gear stick on the left when it’s now on the right.  The three pedals are tiny and there’s not much room for my size 9 feet in the foot well.  It’s a small four door Renault Megane with a Singer sewing machine for an engine and it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding.  But then it runs on the smell of an oily rag.  Actually it would probably run on the smell of my socks after the weather this week.

I’m flying on Ryanair.  What can I say…… everything is ‘plus..plus’!  If you don’t check-in online and print your own boarding card then that’s an extra.  Their online check-in process is a trap for the unwary and you could easily accidentally opt for some ‘extras’.  Boarding seemed very inefficient and I thought “This flight won’t leave on time!”  I though there was advertising on the back of the seat in front and where was the safety card?  After putting on my glasses I realised the safety instructions were on a decal pasted to the rear of the seat in front (along with an ad for food).  There is more advertising on to front of the overhead lockers.  The seats don’t recline which is probably a blessing on a short trip.  I thought it was a bit rich when the pilot blames the company contracted to Ryanair to load the baggage for the delay.  I guess our departure will be recorded on time because it wasn’t their fault!  But you get what you pay for so I’m not complaining.

Today I went east and visited Luxembourg.  It was my first visit and I was curious about what I’d find.  I parked the car on the outskirts of the city and walked in via the linear park beside the river.  Actually it’s was a very narrow open drain with little water.

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The centre of the city is on the high ground to the left in the above photo.  After passing under the bridge I eventually reach what appeared to be a natural break in the cliff face which I was able to walk up arriving in the local government area.

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The old stone wall to the right in the above photo is part of the original lower gatehouse.  There were some good views from the top.

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Luxembourg is a Grand Duchy.  The current Grand Duke is Henri.  Until 2008 he exercised executive power however after he refused to sign a law legalizing euthanasia the constitution was amended stripping him of all constitutional powers. 

I think Henri must have been on his summer holidays as there were no guards outside his palace.

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The Palace

Luxembourg appears quite affluent when compared to southern Belgium. 

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All the swingers had gone home!

Much of Luxembourg is covered in forest which form part of the Ardennes region.  I was rather interested in the Ardennes and the next leg of my journey too me North to Bastogne.

Bastogne is famous for the siege which occurred there in 1944.  The German army had identified the heavily wooded Ardennes as a weak point in the Allied front line.  They planned an armoured and infantry thrust through the region with the intention of capturing the port of Antwerp and splitting the Allied forces.  All seven routes through the Ardennes joined in the town of Bastogne which created a choke point.  The Allies only had one weak American infantry division in the area when the surprise attack occurred. Allied forces were through into the battle in a holding action with the American 101 Airborne Division reaching Bastogne before being cut off.  The 101st and other troops in Bastogne held out against German forces for 7 days before the siege was lifted by General George Patton’s 3rd Army.  Allied forces attacked the German salient from the north and south cutting it off.  It was subsequently known as “The Battle of the Bulge”

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Bastogne town square with my small red Renault in the foreground.

I wanted to get an understanding of the local terrain and opted to drive using the secondary roads rather than motorways.  Much of the forest appears to now be farmland.   Eventually I arrived at Liege which is a major city in eastern Belgium.  To be honest I was disappointed with the city.  It didn’t have much in the way of interesting architecture.  The traditional coal and steel industries have gone and the city appears to be in decline.  However Liege is famous for it’s Belgium waffle which is thick and reputedly tasty.  I had read it should be eaten hot so spent considerable time attempting to find an outlet selling hot waffles.  Eventually I did find one.

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Yes the Australian Home Made Ice Cream shop sold the waffles!  Now one thing I wouldn’t think Australian was good at was ice cream.

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My Belgium waffle.  There is no way I could eat that much cream so it had to go!  However the waffle was quite tasty.

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The River Meuse.  Liege has the 3rd largest river port in Europe and is also linked to Antwerp by canal.

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1 comment :

Mike Griffin said...

Another excellent post.

Well worth watching the box set 'Band of Brothers' great filming of the Battle of Bastogne....

Mike Griffin.