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Using a guide to three driving tours we picked up at the Abbaye visitor center we strove to take in some sights on the way to our next stop just south of Brussels.
We had the English version of the guide/map.....not sure how accurate the translations were as we meandered around, retraced our steps, ended up two places ahead of our itinerary without a clue of how we got there.
It had been hot and humid for the past two days so, when the skies opened up it was not unexpected. Not really all that confident in how accurate the map/guide was anyway, we just pulled off the side of the road and waited out the rain/lightning/thunder/wind.
House after house featured garage sales that were now completely flooded out. People were drinking beer and wine, having a very festive time. In spite of the rain pretty much ruining much of their merchandise, everyone seemed in good spirits. We kept walking past food booths and more yard sales. Finally we came upon the city centre of Céroux-Mousty, the "best city square" in Belgium filled with flea market type booths struggling to recover from the rain. Again, everyone seemed in good spirits.
Walking through, we stopped for some frites - these were the best we have had yet with andelouse sauce instead of the most popular mayonnaise (now, as far as mayonnaise goes, we are not talking Kraft here, but some very nice, rich, fatty stuff) and enjoyed viewing the few carnival-type rides and games mixed with various booths hawking wares. One booth was selling oysters and wine - very tempted by that one. We sat outside of a restaurant on the edge of the square for a local biere and some people watching. Three men came up on bicycles, ordered and drank their beers and went on their way as we sat. The countryside is filled with bicyclists on the hilly, windy roads - this is, after all, the home country of Eddie Merckx.
We drove on, attempting to find more sights featured on the guide (the square was actually featured but the event clearly was happenstance). We saw a beautiful building in the distance but, following the directions, were unable to actually locate it up close (reminds me of when P and I decided to camp and mountain bike in the forest directly near the Grand Canyon - we could not, despite our best efforts, find the Grand Canyon as we were riding our bikes on the many roads used by the forest service - it's kind of our mantra now "where's the grand canyon?"). Lots of pulling over on the side of the road to consult the maps yet again and try to find road markers that make sense - this country is a good argument for GPS systems.
We did find the Butte du Lion commemorating the Battle of Waterloo (with the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne and Battle at Waterloo, this small country has two of the most famous battle sites of all times.) Walking up we went past a restaurant named after Joséphine (Napoleon's wife, not mine). To walk up the monument a 7 euro ticket was required - needless to say, we walked back to the car.
On to our next stay near Brussels. Some minor-ly tense navigation but, all in all, fairly easy. Though we are on a busy street, our accommodations are in the back and it is surprisingly insulated. Walked to a nearby shopping center at around 18:00 to pick up some groceries and was surprised to find that everything, except a hamburger joint, was closed. Annoying but, in some way refreshing that the Belgians don't keep everything open 24/7.
We have loosely planned our outings for tomorrow. Of course, P has all the beer pubs we need to visit mapped out. It works pretty well with the whole day: bus/metro to city center; walk around; museums (the ancients, old primitives, moderns and fin de siécle are on our list); parks; square. Still haven't found a fromagerie, but am hopeful for tomorrow as way back when I graduated from high school, I took one of those whirlwind three week tours of Europe: that was one of my most memorable memories...visiting a fromagerie off of the Great Place in Brussels. After familiarizing ourselves with our route (still need to get some maps), we will rent bikes for our return. Easy to do, credit card operated-kind of deals: rent a bike, go to your destination, drop it off at one of the many automated kiosk bike exchanges. Mkay. Projecting too much about what MIGHT happen tomorrow, so best to call it a night. Hugs.