Tuesday, December 7, 2010

April 20th, 2010

Tuesday was our road trip day.  Brussels is fairly centrally located in Belgium, and made a great staging point for our trips to Waterloo and Bastogne.  Our first stop was to Midi Station to get breakfast and buy train tickets to Holland.  We then rented a car from the Avis outlet and began our pilgrimage.

"I like the car, but this budget GPS seems like it might be broken..."

We made our way to Waterloo and watched a movie about Napoleon's defeat, which changed the course of European history and also set a precedent to calling anything that threatens to destroy someone's career as 'so-and-so's Waterloo.  Seriously, watch the news for an hour and count how many times the words 'Obama'a Waterloo' are spoken when they're talking about health care reform or tax cuts expiring.

We climbed the Butte du Lion, a huge hill erected over the field where Napoleon was ganged up on by the rest of Europe and lost.  Mom made it up all 262 steps (a Belgian family counted them as they climbed ahead of us), which may have been a bit over ambitious, but Mom never backs down from a challenge.
The view from the top...Mom wanted to show how many stairs she tackled

Proof that we made it to the top
The view from the bottom.

We left Waterloo and drove to Bastogne, site of a more recent battle: The Battle of the Bulge.

Those of you who saw Band of Brothers, this was the wintery snow-covered Ardennes forest that was one of the most excrutiating parts of the series.

A relic from a more dangerous page of Bastogne's past

Inside the museum, mom and dad stand beside one of the supply jeeps from the battle

Outside the museum was a monument dedicated to all the American soldiers who died protecting the town of Bastogne.

Each state had a section of the monument

A welcome sight for strangers in a strange land

We finished out the Bastogne trip at a friterie, where my parents had their first mitraillettes.  

A friterie in Bastogne

A mitraillette (French for Sub-Machine gun) is a Belgian dish that I primarily subsisted on as a missionary. 
It consists of a baguette, sliced in half, stuffed with your choice of various fried meats, salted french fries, a sauce of choice (I prefer Samurai), and various vegetables (carrots, lettuce, sliced tomatoes are all common).

They're very delicious
We then returned to Brussels, nearly getting lost on the way back to Midi Station but eventually navigating the tight, twisting roads downtown.  We celebrated our victory with more food.  Our last night in Belgium ended with one last trip to the Grand Place to eat ice cream and waffles.

Thus concluded the Belgian chapter of our journey.


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