School is out for summer! Europe is opening up again, and we are enjoying its gifts. We’re still carless, so we’re still in Belgium. Thanks to some friends we were able to get to our adorable gite (vacation rental) in the Ardennes.
We’re around 10 km from the town of Durbuy, which is great for lounging, shopping, eating and sipping. Yesterday we finally got to sit in its famous Pirate bar, Tortuga something or other. The drinks were a disappointment, but we got to sit amongst these cheery critters.
We’ve also gotten to do some wonderful hiking and bicycling, which included climbing up a steep, rocky embankment to find a little cave and strolls along both sides of the river. Our muscles are a little sore, but it’s worth every bit of it. I told Joe I expect us to do some form of exercise every day I’m on summer break. It’s not hard to do when you’ve got all of this…
Today we’re chilling and grilling in the backyard, but I imagine we’ll explore some more in the woods as well. It’s not all healthy living though. LOL, we’re sipping too. The day school ended we did a virtual Port tasting at a friend’s house.
And we’ve sipped with friends at the Grand Place in Mons. I cannot tell you (or maybe I can) how good it felt to be out and about among people again.
We’re here until Tuesday, and then it’s back to Mons to, hopefully, pick up our new car. We’ll be helping a friend close out living here, so she can retire in the states with her family, and then we’re on the road again. I’m bummed I can’t see my kids this summer, but I’m looking forward to touring the countryside in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and maybe Poland. Heck, we might even throw in France for fun. Our goal is to avoid big cities and just enjoy the nature side of things for awhile.
Happy Summer Everyone!
We really lucked out in that Friday, Saturday and Sunday were sunny days in the 70s! My face got sunburned — I’m no longer a vampire! On the crappy side of things Joe got really sick, but he ploughed through and did the hikes. We avoided the more difficult ones this time around, but we live a 1.5 hour drive from here, so we’ll be back. I got sick toward the end of our trip, and it was wet and foggy the last two days, but it’s all good we love it here. I’m so glad we decided to do road trips instead of flying somewhere. We really needed a slow-paced vacation, and it totally would have sucked to abandon Joe in the hotel room while I toured Italy, Greece or Croatia (trips we’re planning down the road) without him.
If you ever get the chance the next time you visit Belgium, do try to spend a few days in Belgium’s countryside. Maybe do Brussels and Brugge first, and then wind down a bit hiking in all that green. There are campgrounds, kayaking, zip lining, and all sorts of outdoor adventures in the Ardennes. Um, if you’re into suicidal motorcycle rides, there’s plenty of that too — can’t tell you how many times I screamed we’re gonna die during a crotch rocket’s crazy manoeuvre.
Dinant: It’s an easy 1.5 hour drive from Mons and well worth it. We easily found parking and enjoyed just walking around. The Leffe brewery is also there, but we didn’t tour it this time around. The highlight was that we were able to take Badger on the Telefrique, cable car, up to the Citadel, which dates back to 1040.
Awww look at us frying in the sun on the Meuse river! Badger is at our feet. All of the Ardennes was incredibly dog friendly. Then again, most of Belgium is.
Houyet and our cottage (I keep calling it a cabin, but it’s more than that)
We spent four nights in a cottage we loved. The downstairs is a tight fit for more than two people, but who cares? The backyard is everything!
view from our bedroom window.
We’re totally going back in the fall. Click here if you’re interested in cottage (and noooo I don’t get paid for sharing their info; we just really liked it)
The tiny town of Houyet worked for us. We enjoyed our hikes and day trips from there.
Just a few pics of the cool stuff we got to see putzing around in the area.
Dubury: is the smallest city in the world, and it’s adorable. I found a perfumery I loved, and, well, everything about the town worked for us. Hello? it even has a pirate bar, so we’ve gotta come back for that alone.
Bastogne: We spent a night here, but after a great day walking and touring (and sipping some amazing gin and tonics), Joe had a rough night coughing and fighting the cold from hell, so we went straight home after breakfast. The town of Bastogne is more neon-lightish than other Belgium cities, but it has a lot of restaurants and shops — not to mention all the museums nearby. We have friends and family who want to come here, so we’ll be back again to see more. The war museum and memorial park is well worth the trip. It amazes me how we can war and maim in lands that are normally so quiet and serene. I could write up a whole blog on my thoughts on this alone, but I’ll spare you my reflection/hurt/concerns on this. Pray people, even if you’re an atheist (we need all the positive vibes we can get), that we manage to not go into WW3.
I have a few more days left of spring break, so we might take a day trip into the Netherlands, or just explore around here. Best part is I’ve got time to do whatever, including sipping coffee on my couch.
Here’s to whatever path we go on!
Of course you can also check out Badger’s view on all of this at Badger Does Belgium. It’s supposed to be sunny and in the 70s next week, so he and Joe will go on their first blog mission to Waterloo. LOL deadlines to keep man and dog busy — no such thing as true retirement here!