Fly to Amsterdam


We flew from Roanoke to Philly and then on to Amsterdam. A short train ride took us into the city.
 On the left is the train station ... impressive!
Our hotel, the WestCord City Centre, was just a short walk from the train station and centrally located to the city.
The room itself is hilarious. The picture on the right shows how they carpeted a section of the floor right up the wall and to the ceiling.


On our first day, we walked around the city to get a feel for the layout and distances. We saw Dam Square which was filled with people and pigeons and the GrandPalace that is now a museum (left).

We also went by the Anne Frank house. On the right is the line to visit it - averages two to three hour wait. It is well worth clicking on the picture for the larger size to see how far back that line goes. (This one one we were going to skip.)



This museum was on the edge of the city ring to the south. We could have taken public transportation, but it was so much fun to walk!

  gold spoon - such a simple design mother of pearl, precious gems, and tortoise shell inlayed table

another fabulous inlay olive wood covered cabinet close-up of the olive wood grain
The Night Watch - De Nachtwacht by Rembrandt 
It was painted in 1642 and measures
11.91 ft × 14.34 ft. At this period of time, most military paintings were stiff and lacked depth. This was one of the first times light and shadows, motion, and depth were used.
great cannons



matchlock fuses in carrying cases scale model with all the details one of the most beautifully painted paintings
Diana on a Stag - c. 1613-1615
"This is an expensive toy for entertainment of dinner guests. It can roll over the table, since the base of the 'sculpture' has wheels and a movement to propel it forward. The head of the stag can be removed and its body filled with wine. The guest in front of whom Diana stops may take the first drink."
 (from museum tag)
Henjel in the Kelder - Hansel in the Cellar
When a woman found out that she was pregnant, she was not suppose to tell anyone verbally (evil spirits may hear her). Instead, she would use a goblet like this. When filled with liquid, a trap door would open revealing a figure of a baby. Everyone would pass the goblet around and take a congratulatory drink.
Amber with gold and precious gems. When the lid is removed, light come through the top to light up the carved medallions.


Three of these goblets are made with nautilus seashells and one from a turban shell.
The two on the right are close-ups. The are encrusted with gold filigree and gems.
The ostridge is said to represent virtue as it is the fastest two-legged animal running,
and therefore, virtue always triumphs. c. 1550
This picture and the three below are of rock crystal (quartz) carvings - goblets, pitchers, bowls, etc. The craftsmanship is incredible.
c. mid 1600

Quartz was thought to crack or turn color if exposed to any poisons; consequently, it was extensively used by the rich and powerful.

Outside the Rijimuseum was a lovely little park with a very cool water feature. Curtains of water would rise and fall on the four sides allowing people to step in have their photo taken and then wait for another wall to recede and step out.
Looked like fun! Bob said he would take the pictures, if Amy would go in. "Sure!"
She heard "Go! Go!"    Bob says he said "No! No!"
Two walls of water later, then trapped on the inside forever, dripping and soaked, Amy was the delight of the crowd.
Thank the-powers-that-be that Bob always carries a paper towel/napkin with him. After Amy took the water out of her shoes, wringed out the bottom of her shirt, she could finally dry her face and glasses. (Yea, I won't live this one down any time soon.)   :)


On to the Heineken Beer Experience - and an experience it was!

We would definitely recommend this to everyone!
The vats, wort tasting (the stuff that is beer before it ferments), the horses and stables that pull the cart every morning through town, interactive displays, engrave your own beer bottle, make a sing along video, and get your certificate, "become a beer ride" (shakes, rolls, heat, bubbles, and so much more fun), and, our personal favorite, the carpet of digital images that scoot away from your feet as you walk down the corridor!

At one time, Heineken even designed beer bottles that that fit into each other to build walls. We took the Heineken beer boat ride back to the main part of the city.

Just a really good time!

Sint Nicolaaskerk

Sint Nicolasskerk was built between 1884 and 1887. It is located close to the train station. The dome is 190 feet tall and fantastic. As always, we lit a small candle for out loved ones. 


The Church in the Attic - Lieve Heer op Solder

During the 17th century the Christians and Protestants were vying for control of religion of the land. When the Protestants secured control, all Christian masses had to be held in private (out of public view). They were still banned and "illegal", but were tolerated as long as they were not seen. This house was modified in 1663 to house a Christian church in its attic. 200 or more people a week would come through the doors to worship and celebrate mass in their faith or choice. It is a "common house" from the outside - so much so that it was hard to find walking down the street. It was well work the time. the beds, as typical in the day, were small - rather like a cupboard with a mattress. The views from the windows showed how houses in the area were showing their age and the spire of the Christian church as later restrictions were abolished and new churches built. There were two levels that looked over the main alter. And, unbelievably, what looked like marble columns were actually very well hand-painted plaster or stone.



We went on to walk around Amsterdam and came up on the I amsterdam logo that is used by the tourist department. You can climb on it, stand under it, or just admire it. Bob and K&K are between the letters a & m.

And then, of course, K&K needed a beer in the plaza next door.


Old Church - Oude Kerk

A gothic style church founded in the 13th century  (several enlargements took place between 1330 and 1571) and dedicated to the patron saint of seafarers, Saint Nicolas. In front of the church is the oldest city garden dated to 1260.

The paintings on the roof
(wooden interior sections) were partially restored to show the
detail of the images.

The spiral staircase is unique -
the inside twist is a masterpiece forming the vertical line within the staircase.
Below are the organ pipes.
It took almost the full length of the church to get them in frame.
They are huge!

 Between 1250 and 1865, 2,500 tombstones were set in place on the floor of the church. Representing 35 generations, there are 10,000 people buried beneath the flooring.

The graves of Saskla (Rembrandt's wife), Frans Banning Cocq (the central figure in Rembrandt's painting The Night Watch), and Masyken (wife of poet Vondel).

To see a full map and grave-on-line link.

The stained glass is from the 16th and 17th centuries.


Walking Around the City
 Amy's new smarter-than-me phone has a step counting app on it.
We typically would walk over the goal of 10,000 steps and on a couple occasions got over 14,000 steps.

Beautiful buildings were everywhere. In the top left photo, a gentleman is riding a typical bike that allows parents to transport their kids in any weather.

The locks on the gate are put there by recently married couples.
We saw this in Russia too.


Our hotel was on the edge of the red-light district. Oude Kerk was in the middle. Amsterdam was one of the most safe feeling cities we had been in. With that said, we did not venture out after dark ... of course, "dark" was after 10:00 pm. The fist two pictures are out our hotel window - day then night. The next is a condom shop. The fourth and final is of one of the canals with a big bad live theater of ... well ... red-light acts.

Train Day to Namur

We woke up early to check out and walk the few blocks to the train station.
It was a day of "Fortunately" and "Unfortunately" ...

Fortunately, we bought online open ride tickets in advance - if you can get from A to B, no matter what train or day, you get to ride.
Unfortunately, as in all Europe, train schedules change daily or hourly - without any notice.

Fortunately, we got to the train station an hour early.
Unfortunately, there were no trains going where we were going that day (major schedule change due to rail work). 

Fortunately, we immediately asked what was going on at the info desk (and she spoke enough English to help us).
Unfortunately, it was now not a three train change, but a six train change - and we had ten minutes to get to the first one way down the station.

Fortunately, it looked like we would get to Namur only 30 minutes later - 5:00ish.
Unfortunately, one of the trains was cancelled but the next would be in in time for our transfer, that left us with a two minute window to sprint across the tracks to get the fourth connection.

Fortunately, we made it.

We checked into Hotel Ibis Namur Centre in the late afternoon, dropped our bags, and took a small walk around to orient ourselves.


Get Car & See Namur

In the morning we checked out, walked a few blocks  to the car rental agency, and ended up with a brand new VW Polo - bright red!  :)
The people were so great - we ended up getting the full insurance for a cost - but the ramifications of anything happening and the ease of handling it were well worth it. (Of course, nothing did happen, but the comfort level was worth every dollar.)

The best part was that it was a stick shift. It took Bob a little time to get use to driving one again - but he was GREAT! The employees even got out in the road to stop traffic as we pulled out (a difficult blind curve even if driving in the U.S.)! We, of course stalled in the middle of the intersection which made them nervous, but Bob recovered nicely.  :)

We had bought a GPS card for the area and had programmed in our major points at home in the U.S. It worked great ... after it realized we weren't in the U.S. any more. It took a long time to find the new satellites, we had to tell it to use kilometers per hour, and get it to keep speaking English - but other than that, we could not have survived without it and the trip planning we did at home.

our little red car

We were impressed by the e-bikes. One can look up where the bike are, how many are there, and can even pay for them in advance. Pick them up, ride them, plug them in for more juice around the city, and finally, drop them off at the same or different station!

(No we did not use them - feet also rock!)


The Church of Saint-Loup - L'Eglise Saint-Loup

Three stories high and baroque in design, this was one of the most incredible churches we saw. (And, yes, it also had a QR code)

It was built between 1621 and 1645. The ceilings are carved freestone - white to ivory in color to contrast with the raw stone pillars.

The beautifully carved oak confessionals line one side of the church.



The Namur Citadel

The citadel covers 198 acres and is therefore one of the largest in Europe. It is built on Champean hill where the rivers Sambre and Meuse come together. It was built in three sections over the centuries. From the 10th to the 15th century, the Citadel was actually "The Castle of the Counts". It was a smaller set of buildings at the tip of the cliff where the earls of Namur lived. In the 13th century, it started to become a fortress with larger walls, towers to protect the earls, and a cannon house.


During the 16th century (called the "mediane"), the area was increasing in importance and wealth. Namur was situated at the crossroads of heavily traveled routes. Cannons were being used more often and made the buildings vulnerable, so stronger fortifications were built.

It was during this period that the fortress became a citadel with earth packs roofs to absorb the cannon ball shock.


During the 17th century,
Terra-Nova was added at the
upper end of the citadel. New defensive underground passages and galleries were created.

The large building at the top is the barracks.

The steps were interesting as they were designed to serve other functions as well. The left steps were built with a high rise and short foot surface. This made them easy to climb, but hard to descend. Other stairs had a slight curve in the middle and gutters on the edges to collect rain water for the men.




Saint Aubin's Cathedral

See a 360O controllable video
of the inside

Saint Aubin's Cathedral was build on top of an older church that dated back to 1047. As the church was built and rebuilt through the centuries, the present cathedral was completed between 1751 to 1767.

The interior of the dome is 229 feet tall and the cathedral measures 256 feet long. It is beautiful.

We drove to Dinant in the late afternoon.



We were delighted to find that Hotel Ibis Dinant was within walking distance to the Citadel - we were a bit worried when we booked it. As you enter the town, you pass Albert's Rock. They say young King Albert I used to climb it for fun.

Driving into Dinant was an experience.... After stopping to take the picture of the towering rocks the road ran straight through, our GPS decided that it didn't like us any more. It may have lost contact with the satellites, but it was bound and determined to get us lost in a town with only a few streets that were practically all one way. We never want to hear the word "recalculating" again.  :) 
Finally we found small signs that showed us the way. .

The Citadel & Notre Dame of Dinant from ground level were inspiring!

Below: inside Notre Dame of Dinant -
* Saint Perpète is the patron saint of Dinant. He died November 4, 614. This gold guilt bust was made in 1621. 
* Stained glass from the 15th century
* In 1227, falling rocks from the cliff destroyed the original church. This one was built on the foundations of the old one. We were amazed to see brick work between the arches of the ceiling.

The cliff is 328  feet above the river Muese. The first fortress was built around 1040. The town and castle were destroyed in 1466. In 1523, the castle was rebuilt and the 408 step stairway was added going up to one of the side walls. From 1818 to 1821, it was destroyed again. This final rebuild it the one we see today.




While inside the Cathedral, we lit a candle focusing on Ruth's son Michael.
Below is a "seamed together picture" from two we took of the Citadel &
Notre Dame of Dinant. Our camera just couldn't take in the entire vista.

      "In 1466 the area was divided into 17 different providences. The Dukes of Burgundy united these areas with the exception of Liege (and therefore Dinant). "Charles the Bold looted and ransacked Dinant and ordered 800 residents to be tied together, two by two, and thrown into the Meuse from the bridge above." From the sign at site


The two images
prior to seaming
them together


K&K at the top of the Citadel
with the tram that you ride to the
top in the background.

Looking back down the river
with the new highway bridge
 in the background.

The Meuse River divided two providences/states - Dinant (Dutch) on the fortress side from Leige (German) on the other side. For centuries, they were, at best, antagonistic, at worst, warring. Today they are united and flourishing.

On the left:
"These piles supported the first bridge of Dinant, built by the Wauksort Monks in the 11th century. They were taken out of the Meuse in 1952 when
the current bridge was being built. They thus remained in the water for approximately 900 years."
From sign at site

On the right:
The bridge as it stands now.

A shell hit one of the underground bunkers that had been added onto the citadel in more recent times. When it detonated, it shifted the entire concrete bunker to a 30 degree angle. Although in later years the walls became unstable, it has been recreated to demonstrate the bizarre surroundings.

And yes, to stand straight up while looking at others tilting on an angle was dizzying! 


Dinant is the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone.

The bridge is lined with huge saxophones decorated by different countries.



Château Bouillon

In feudal times (1100's to 1500's), the kings owned all the land. He would divide up parcels to give to nobles who, in return, would help him protect his lands. The nobles gave some to people lower than themselves for the same reason, and those people gave it to serfs to help them farm the land. A bit of everything was given back to the king. A great resource to learn more is located here.


The Château Fort's history is first mentioned in writing in 988, and although now written records survive is is thought to have existed for centuries before that. In 1096, Godfrey (the Duke at the time), sold all his lands and the fortress in order to go on the first Crusade. He conquered Jerusalem (later dying there) with the title of "Defender of the Holy Sepulcher" when he refused to wear the gold crown of a king since Jesus, the King of kings, wore only a crown of thorns.


There were originally three wooden bridges which were covered in stone by 1716.

The innermost spanned a mote carved out of the natural rock and could be filled with water from inside.


A feudal Château (or castle) was built to protect the people and lords. To be a feudal castle, there must be successive layers and heights of walls and fortified positions. Each of the upper areas protect the lower areas. They are built/shaped by the rock and land they sit on and by their ability to see and fire upon any threats. At the highest point the Tower stands 245 feet above the town.

On the left, Amy is listening to an audio tour. Within the courtyard is the powder house where the gunpowder was stored and covered in a layer of charcoal to absorb moisture and keep it dry.

Water is a important component of any fortress. This one had a man-made well that was dug through pure rock to the level of the Semois river - 201 feet down and seven feet in diameter! It also had a cistern with an area of more then 1,000 feet. A natural spring would keep the cistern filled to a constant level - even in time of drought.

These are unusual double-storied, three slotted loop-holes used to fire weapons through. They have a Y design allowing six directions of shots to be made. The walls were three feet thick.

Within the underground passages and fortifications are air-ducts that double as
speaking tubes. Soldiers could relay orders through these tubes from the basement,
middle area, or surface strong-holds.


On right:
Looking down over the courtyard (with the bleachers for the falconry show).

Far right:
The area below the Château Fort has been called "Bishop's Field" since 1141. Evidently, in 1134 in a surprise attack, Raymond de Bar captured the Château  from the Prince-Bishop of

This wheel was attached to a
crank shaft and ropes. Men
would get inside and walk to
bring water up from the well.
It is seven feet in diameter.

 Leige. The Prince-Bishop wanted it back and laid siege to it with his army. Nothing was working and his men were starting to give up hope. So, he brought the holy shrine of St. Lambert (which contained his body) from the far, far away town of Leige to the battle field. It inspired his men and terrified the army occupying the Château . They simply surrendered, thinking that they could not fight against Heaven. 


The Falconry Show
The show was fantastic! - and one of the reasons we decided on this fortress. All the birds were tethered to their little A-frame shelters with shade and water available. They were outside during the day and behind the hedge so visitors could see them, but not get to close. The second pictures shows three owls - the little shelter in the middle had a tiny owl in it. (See the third picture - a blow-up of the second.) The last picture is of a really big falcon. He was sounding off during the entire show.

Of course, the entire thing was in French, so we didn't learn a lot.  :) But the birds would fly directly over our heads and land on walls all around us.

One of the birds was a vulture. He tended to keep his wings spread out when sitting still. Must be some survival thing, but we have not investigated it yet.



We loved the little baby owl. When they set him down on the ground he would wobble around with the tethers on his feet.
Quite funny!

And then the gentleman came over and set him on Bob's hat.

Great shot!

The man is swinging a small sausage on a string around in circles. The falcon is coming in to try to catch it. This is the way they train the birds for hunting. (And yes, the falcon snagged the sausage out of the air on his third try. Impressive to watch.)

After the show we could go up and have our picture taken with the little owl and the true hunting falcon (you can see his mask is back on).


Foy / Bastogne

This is where the Battle of the Bulge occurred - the deadliest conflict in the U.S. Army's history. Just off a small road between Foy (pronounced Fwa) and Bastogne, and a few feet into the trees, are the remains of the foxholes our soldiers used for defense.

It is an eerily quite place where you can feel the history down to your bones. Located at 50O 1.929 N  5O 45.195 E



American Airborne

Down the road its a small monument to
the 1001st Airborne Division -
The Screaming Eagles.

The memorial just sits quietly and stoically on the side of the road. The signs to get to it are small if even posted. It isn't a tourist attraction, it is a solemn reminder and message of thanks from the people of Belgium.

Located at
50O 1.721 N 
5O 45.404 E


Bois de la Paix - The Trees of Peace (or Woods of Peace)

"The 4,000 trees were planted in the year of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. They are dedicated to the American veterans who fought in the Ardennes, to the Belgian soldiers as well as to all civilian and military casualties of the winter of 1944-1945."

"What is also remarkable about the Peace Woods is that they are laid out to form the UNICEF emblem: a mother and her child, the symbol of human tenderness. This picture can only be seen from the sky, so that those who passed away will know that they did not die in vain."
From the sign on site / sky view captured from Google Earth

Each solder can have choose a tree and have his or her name plaque in front of it. 

Located at 50O 1.730 N  5O 46.149 E


Mardasson Memorial

The Mardasson Memorial "honours the memory of the 76,890 American soldiers who were wounded or killed during the Battle of the Bulge.
While first steps towards the memorial were undertaken on July 4, 1946, by presenting some earth from the site to U.S. President Harry Truman, the monument was dedicated on July 16, 1950. Architect Georges Dedoyard designed the complex as a pentagram with a height of 12 metres (39 ft) and a side length of 31 metres (102 ft), centered by a circular atrium with a diameter of 20 metres (66 ft). While the inner walls are covered with ten paintings from the battle, the outer crown is engraved with the names of the contemporary 48 U.S. States, and the insignia of most participating battalions are shown on the walls. Below the structure, a crypt with three altars – one each for Protestant, Catholic and Jewish services – was carved, and decorated with mosaics by French artist Fernand Léger.
The Latin inscription on the memorial stone:
translates to "The Belgian people remember their American liberators – 4th July 1946."" From Wikipedia

101st Screaming Eagle Memorial Bob on top with K&K K&K peeking out of the barrel


The sign at the site
(to large as one photo
to be readable)

We drove from Bastogne to La Roche (about 30 minutes) and checked into Hotel Du Midi.
After a wondering around the town for a bit and a getting truly icky hamburger for dinner, we settled in and got a good night's sleep.


Le Château Féodal de La Roche-en-Ardenne
Morning of July 1st on our 30th Anniversary

The Weather Gods were on our side again. It only rains at night in Belgium.  :)  We only had a few hours to tour the ruins and then we had to drive to Namur, turn in the car, and catch our train to Brussels. We checked out early and headed off to the Citadel.

History: Although in 1903 excavations revealed flint, stoneware, and pottery from the prehistoric era; in 1954, a Roman coin was found dating to 307-337 BC. After the Romans had conquered Gaul and the Ardennes in 53 BC, they built a fort here. As the centuries pasted, the fort was turned into a fortress and by the 9th century it could be termed a medieval castle/fortress. By the 12th century, it became important to the protect the English wool trade routes and the ships on the river.

The castle was inhabited until 1780. After it was abandoned, the locals used mush of the stone for building materials in the town. Until the late 1990's, the courtyards and most of the underground were buried in hundreds and hundreds of feet of dirt. In the summer a festival is held for a few months showcasing the ghost of the castle.

"In World War II, the town suffered severe damage. Having been liberated by the Allies in September 1944, the town was recaptured by the Germans in December, during the Battle of the Bulge. The subsequent Allied bombing raids resulted in the town being liberated once more in January 1945, but left much of the town destroyed."

The town and castle sit beside the river Ourthe and the castle was built on Deister hill.

One can see how impressive this would have been when intact.
(It is still impressive!)

There is no way to drive or ride to the top. You have to find this narrow little alley and walk the cobble stone path to the top.

The stairs within the castle were chiseled  out of the solid rock foundation. Time had worn them down, but in the large picture you can see all the striations.

The walls towered over us as we climbed.

As with any castle/fortress of this time,
the land had a great impact on building
the actual structures.



We found a fascinating machine of war. Built like a traditional catapult, this one shot metal tipped javelins that were 5 to 6 feet in length.

K&K look down over the tiered walls
toward the town.

The javelin was placed in a cradle at the top front. The lower, center portion was made of a solid vertical support with green posts lashed to the bottom. The green (and therefore malleable) wood was cranked back and locked in place. A release mechanism freed the green wood which would return to the upright position, slamming into the end of the javelin rocketing it into the troops below. It might not have killed a lot of people, but it would certainly, according to Bob, "make them think about taking that next step forward."

The entire Château Fort of La Roche was built out of interlocking local stone - some times digging into it, sometimes seaming up to it, but often using gravity and a sand and chalk mortar to gain height, thickness of the walls, and doorways.


The Three S's: Shale, Slate, and Schist

These three rocks have basic differences in composition that make huge differences in hardness, stability, and ease of working.

All three tend to break or cleave along flat, parallel lines, giving them a flattened look.

Shale is a sedimentary rock made of a mix of flakes clay and fragments of mud. It is the most abundant rock on earth.

Slate is a metamorphic rock. It is grained with tiny mica flecks. It also has excellent, linear cleavage. 

Schist is also a metamorphic rock. It has medium to large flakes of mica and cleaves in roughly parallel lines. (It tends to be more sparkly in the sunlight.)

We are not sure which material or materials were actually used. One website says that the stone was shale. All three would have been readily available and were probably used in different locations for different purposes.

To Namur & Train to Brussels


From La Roche to Namur was only an hour drive - and through wonderful country side and empty roads.

As we arrived, we thanked the GPS again. Cities are very difficult to navigate, round-abouts and one way streets abounded.

Gas is also VERY expensive. The signs are so intimidating, until you realize that they sell in liters. We figured that the price was just over $6.00 per gallon. Maybe why the roads we so empty?

Once we turned in the car, we walked the few blocks to the train station where we saw this contraption.
It is a peddle powered mobile device charger.

The train ride was about an hour and very relaxing.


Brussels - Bruxelles
Evening of July 1st on our 30th Anniversary

When we got of the train at Brussels Midi station, we found that we were just a few steps from our hotel (the Ibis Brussels off Grand'Place)
in the center of the Grote Markt square! We checked in (Amy was again impressed with the QR codes that were in the lobby) and took a walk-about to
get orientated.

It was soon apparent that the word "Brussels" and the country of Belgium was synonymous with waffles, chocolate, beer, and lace. We indulged in each. 

Bob even managed to leave the image of a horse in foam on the edge of his glass which reminded us of the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam.  :)

The Grand Market or Grote Markt is the central square in Brussels. It is surrounded by guildhalls, the city's Town Hall, and the Breadhouse (French: Maison du Roi, Dutch: Broodhuis). By the end of the 11th century, the open air markets were being transformed into guild-houses where apprentices were trained to the highest standards. Individual and glorious buildings house the buckers, bread makers, beer trades, and textile workers, to name a few.
In part from


In 1695, the French bombarded the city center with cannons and mortars. It was defenseless and ultimately basically flattened. The Grand Palace was destroyed and most of the city burned.

During the next four years, the city was rebuilt by the guild houses. By the late 1700's the Grand Place was sacked again destroying statues and facades of the guild houses and surrounding buildings.

During the 19th century restoration and rebuilding was a priority fixing and repairing the structures and their carved beauty.

Also in part from

The Grand Place was built in stages between 1401 and 1455. It is 315 feet high and has a 12 foot statue of St. Michael slaying a dragon on its top.

Trying to match or exceed this symbol of power, the Duke of Brabant built his own grand building in 1504 to 1536. It was built on the foundations of the first cloth and bread markets and became known as the King's House (Maison du Roi in French and Broodhuis or Breadhouse in Dutch), although no kings ever lived there.
Also in part from

Brussels abounds with marvelous statuary and small fountains found around the city. The fountains gave access to water for the citizens in olden times and current times.





Mannekin-Pis is regarded as a symbol of the rebellious sprit of the city. It dates back to the 15th century. Again, another QR code!

The other photos Show Amy & her family on visits over the years. Note the differences in the shop window in the upper right. 

2013 - Bob and K&K 1966 - Dad and We Three 1991 - Mom



Anniversary Photos

All to soon it was time for dinner. We went back to the hotel and asked what they would suggest for or 30th anniversary. The waiter was delightful - he said straight up, "Nothing". He sent us down the block a bit to Chez Leon where Amy got a fabulous fillet (with little rounds of garlic butter on top) and Bob got Moules Provencale (mussels topped with tomatoes, cheese, and spices). Both meals ROCKED! On our way home we bought a bottle of red wine - and toasted our lovely life together.

2013 - 30 years - Brussels, Belgium 2010 - 27 years - Prague, Czech Republic 2003 - 20 years - Yellowstone, Wyoming
2002 - 19 years - Switzerland 1992 - 9 years - Château Morrisette, Virginia 1983 - Just married


Meeting up with Jean and Jean-François in Brussels!

Jean is Amy's cousin on her dad's side. She and Amy have met up in the most amazing places in the past. One time at the bottom of the Grand Canyon!

It has been virtually forever since we have seen each other or talked.  When Bob and Amy and K&K emailed to say they would be in her city for a few days this summer, she was all in to show us around!

And it was delightful!!!!

This is Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon. Although we can't find a picture of us together, it is a place Jean & Amy crossed paths when young.


Jean took us back to Mannekan-Pis
(She told us that "pis" is not pronounced "pee" as in America, but rather "piss" in French and Dutch.)  Oh my ... I like it our way.

And, for the first time ever, in all the Jager family travels, we saw Himself dressed up! The tradition was started towards the end of the 17th century. The weekend was to be hosting a huge celebration of the solders of the city in ancient times. There is actually a museum that houses his costumes - everything form Ancients to Elvis to astronauts! (We did not have time to see it.)

There was a rumor that this festival would be one of the ones where beer would flow from the fountain tonight. It does happen from time to time on occasions such as this. We would have loved to see it, but we had a long day ahead and an early flight out in the morning.
Maybe next time.


The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

Got to love a church/cathedral that has so many names and Saints!

We spent a moment, lost in time, with Jean ... lighting a candle for Amy's dad /Jean's uncle,
 Alan Reynolds Jager.

Oh how I miss you Dad.


The Belgians have found ancient ruins dating
 to the Roman times as they build and
rebuild the city.

Trying to preserve the past for the future, they have, at his site, created a glass walled venues to the ruins below. On special days visitors are  guided through the area.




Close-up of trellised trees
seen on left

Jean-François picked Le Bier Circus as our restaurant - it was AWESOME! Beer caps embedded in plaster coated walls through the entire place!

And they had beer of every kind in Belgium!


The  Atomium & Mini-Europe

Belgium hosted the 1958 World Fair (now called "Expos" and held every two years in cities around the world). Like the later 1962 Seattle World Fair's Space Needle, Belgium's main attraction was the Atomium. Nine reflective spheres are covered in stainless steel connected together to form an iron crystal ... built with a magnification of 165 billion times. It is 335 feet tall and the each globe measures 59 feet in diameter. External stairs connect the spaces/globes.

To learn about the first World Fair click here -
be sure to look at the Exhibits links - the technology was unbelievable for the day and time!

Atomium Mini-Europe Bath, UK - 18th century built to imitate the style
of the Roman amphitheaters.
All the models are scaled to 1/25.

Visiting Mini-Europe was dream of Amy's'. We did not have the time to go to the Hauge in Amsterdam of the mini Dutch.
"Madurodam is a miniature park and tourist attraction in the district of The Hague, Netherlands, home to a range of perfect 1:25 scale model replicas of famous Dutch castles, public buildings, and large industrial projects as found at various locations in the country. The park was opened in 1952"

Every two years the Grand Palace is covered in a carpet of flowers in beautiful patterns (around August 15th). All 294 statues decorate the City Hall.

The guild houses a and other major buildings (just like in the city) surround the plaza.


Bob and K&K found a statue that they could step into - They are now in the soldier's ranks to will protect the realm. (Be very scared!)

The Eiffel Tower measures about a thousand feet (300 meters) in real life and it was completed for the 1889 World Fair in Paris.

"On a scale of 1/25, the Eiffel Tower weighs approximately 1,800 kg and stands approximately 13m high."
From Mini-Europe info book

Dinant Citadel Scale Model (1/25)
Having visited the site, we were so impressed with the scale model! They even had a B.A.S.E. jumper dangling off the front edge.
Wondered if there was a good story there!?

When Amy was a wee-one, the family was returning to the U.S. from living in the Philippines. On the way back, they visited Madurodam.

Bob and Amy were not able to get back to the Madurodam.
It is located in the Hague area, NW of Amsterdam.

Where the Atomium highlights all Europe, the Madurodam showcased just the Dutch venues. It opened in 1952


The End Of Our Day With Jean

Jean was delightful and took on a tour of Brussels that seconded our best number of steps (14, 421)! Tired did not even express our feelings. She pointed out some fun (and iconic) areas, including the Sucx candy store, the big white Smurf (Smurfs were invented in Brussels), and the huge flower pot planters that lined a pedestrian street.

With hugs and tears we said our goodbyes - she is one extraordinary lady and married to an exemplary man for the last almost 20 years! We will miss them and thank them deeply for the great memories!


Last Evening In Brussels

We had said goodbye to Jean and intended to go to bed early so that we were rested for our flight home. And then ...

Period bands, costumed people, horses, and a big ol' parade started down the other side of our square. Just had to watch!


As dusk turned to night (i.e. around 10:00 pm, we retired to our room at the back of the hotel, only to watch and hear all the horse mounted re-enactors line up, go off, and come back to change wardrobes and set off once again.



Our flight home was uneventful. We arrived in the early evening, hugged our dogs, and canceled our flight plan with mom.

It was a wonderful time!



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