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Mike and Adele's European Vacation

Part 10: Back to Belgium

Wednesday, June 2, 1999

Adele: We slept in really late, then Mary took us into Brussels. She dropped us off where their map said the Am Ex Office was, but, shock of shocks, the map was old. The Am Ex office isn't there anymore. So, we had a quick baguette lunch, then off to the museum Les Musee des Beaux Arts!

We saw several Bruegels, several Rubens (rreow), a Monet, Seurat, David, Warhol (Wayne Gretsky), and a lot of crap!

Mike did find a new artist to like - Delvaux. Large boobs and bush. We bought a print.

After the museum, we had a beer and called Mary. Home for dinner and games.

Mike: I also saw some other artists that I liked - Bonnard and Klimt. Of course, they had boobies too. Adele bought me Bonnard's print. You know, I like impressionism too!

Thursday, June 3, 1999

Mike: Today we slept in and eventually got up and went to Ghent. We decided to go out for Chinese lunch for two reasons - 1. Mom loves Chinese and doesn't get much of an opportunity to eat it in Belgium and 2. After all of our big European meals, we needed a lighter meal. So, we went for Chinese. However, we have been told that the chicken in Belgium contains dioxin, and that all chickens have been ordered destroyed by the government. Thus, we ordered curry beef and Mom ordered sweet and sour pork. It was very good until the end, where the dessert was lychee nuts. Adele didn't like the tastes (tastes like canned pears), and I didn't like the texture (like eyeballs). While we ate lunch overlooking the city street, we were treated to observing a woman throwing up in the street. She didn't look drunk, but rather it appeared she had morning sickness. Whatever the reason, she did not look like she was having a good trip.

After lunch, it was off to the Gravenstein Castle. This castle was built around 1100 as a residence for a count, but was soon converted into a torture chamber and prison. It was not a happy nor a "pretty" castle. We went up on the roof and I was terrified. It wasn't so bad until - the French schoolchildren showed up. They were running around and it sounded like the floor was going to cave in. The castle was scary, and I'll admit I was scared. It was dark, smelly, and full of torture chambers and torture implements (or, as they call them, "judicial objects"). It was more scary than any haunted house, because it was real (including real skeletons in the basement crypt).

Gravenstein Castle
Gravenstein - not a nice castle.

Adele with guillotine
Adele checks out the guillotine in the Castle Gravenstein.

After leaving the castle, we decided not to go to Waterloo, as it was raining hard and traffic was bad. We went home and began packing for the trip home.

Friday, June 4, 1999

Adele: I realized I forgot Mom and Dad's anniversary! Oops! We didn't do anything today. We slept in and then walked to the local bottle shop to get some Monk beer and Moselle wine ($4 instead of $75).

We then took Nikki for a walk to throw out the glass recyclables. While in the park, Mike got Nikki to jump down a little 2 foot wall. Nikki trusted him, but unfortunately, could not see and dove face first into the pavement. She's okay, only her pride was injured.

We then bathed and had lunch. Mary was at her game group. We got dressed up nice, because we were going out to dinner with Steve and Carolyn Chevens, friends of Donn and Mary. We went out for ribs (lamb) - no chicken (see dioxin thing). We played games and drank until real late.

Mike: (By the way, we had sheep ribs for dinner! Oh, wait, I see Adele already mentioned that - I'm a doofus!)

Saturday, June 5, 1999

Mike: Well, after drinking late, we slept in. After we finally got up, we begrudgingly got into the car. We felt sick, because in addition to drinking really late, Mom kept feeding us desserts ("just a little tiramisu?").

So we are in the car to go to Waterloo, but we stopped at NATO on the way so that Dad can get a copy of the newspaper. It is hot, muggy, and smelly. Mom points out to where a car bomb exploded six years ago. Finally, after an agonizing hour, we are finally off to Waterloo!

Dad drives the Belgian freeways like he is playing "Pole Position" and amazingly finds every single bump on the road to Waterloo. After another hour, we finally arrive.

We begin by viewing a large circular panorama of the battlefield. The painting showed what it looked like on the battlefield that day. After a few minutes, Adele started getting vertigo, so it was off to the Butte de Lion (or what I call "Lion's Butt").

The family in Waterloo
The entire family on the Lion's butt, or is it butte?

This is a large mound topped by a statue of a lion built as a monument after the battle. After 266 steps up, we walked back down and went to the "spectacles".

Lion's Butte at Waterloo
Lions's Butte.

The first "spectacle" was a model display of the battle. It lit up the different armies and forts and showed how the battle progressed. In true multilingual European fashion, there was no speaking narration.

The second "spectacle" was a video. Again, no speaking. However, in true French cinema fashion, none of us had any idea about what went on in the video (kids playing cowboys and Indians, find themselves in the middle of outtakes of Waterloo, get shot, then find out it was a dream - or was it?).

After that, we left Waterloo and went to the nearby village of Nevilles. We were looking for the beer museum that Steve told us about last night. After searching on foot for several minutes and interrogating every towns-person we met, we decided to give up, as non one had heard of it. Then, a block from the city square, we saw the words "Musee de le biere" in big letters, so we went in and enjoyed a round of trappist ales (a Chimay blanc at 10% alcohol for Adele and a Saint Augustine at 12% for me; Mom had a Leffe blond).

When we got home, Adele called her family and got some depressing news. We were ready to go home.

We went out for one last dinner with my parents at the Wilgenhof restaurant. We had steaks. There was a victory party for a 1200 km bike race, so we had to wait for our food, but it gave us the opportunity for another bottle of wine.

I forgot to mention that on our way out of the video at Waterloo, we once again ran into the hordes of French schoolchildren. They are everywhere! But after seeing that video, maybe I am starting to understand the underlying psyche of the French schoolchild.

Sunday, June 6, 1999

Adele: After a rather sleepless night, we were up for our last bath and to cram the rest of our crap into our already stuffed suitcases.

Donn and Mary heard a noise in the attic and went up to investigate to find that the big 2 foot square glass window had fallen in, frame and all! So they spent time cleaning up glass and boarding up the hole where the window used to be.

Finally after one last meal from Mary (toast, thank God), we were off to the airport. We said our good-byes and thanks and plunged into the Brussels airport.

We checked in, went through duty free, and boarded. Yeah, we're going home!

Monday, June 7, 1999

Adele: Well, we thought yesterday would be the last entry. We were wrong! We were weather delayed in Chicago. United sucks; they didn't pay for our hotel!

We finally got home around 1 PM. The front door was stuck, and there were bees all over! Yuck! But, we are home!

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