Saturday 18th March
Left Bousse-Lez-Walcourt for Saint Hubert which is the European capital of hunting and nature.
The architecture here goes back to the seventh century when Saint Hubert’s Abbey was founded and then rebuilt in 1729.
The locals were very friendly even if I couldn’t understand a word they were saying – languages spoken in Belgium include French, Flemish and a little German in the north west but unfortunately where we are it is only French speakers and my attempts at German have Fallen on deaf ears.
Fortunately the girl manning the tourist office spoke very good English which helped us out immensely.
Grocery shopping in a supermarket is an interesting experience when everything is labelled in French, particularly when you get to the checkout with fruit and vegetables and the operator tries to tell you in French that you were supposed to weigh the goods yourself – ah well – “Non Francais – Australie” seems to help particularly when said with a smile and a “Merci”.
All the wine we have been buying comes in bottles with corks which we haven’t seen for years at home.
Spent a couple of hours in a little bar which had over 100 varieties of local beers some of them as strong as 12.5%.
Very cold again today – got all the ski gear on.
Sunday 19th March
Visited our friend in the tourist office again for some more info, did a major shop in the local CarreFour Supermarket and then headed for Bastogne.
Bastogne is famous for the battle fought there between the Allies and the Germans in the winter of 1944-45 which is better known as “The Battle of the Bulge”
This area was also previously invaded by the Germans in 1914 so can understand why the German language is not too well accepted here.
There are 4 or 5 huge monuments and museums erected in honour of the US 101st Airborne Division which was surrounded by the German 5th Panzer Division until the 27th December when the siege was lifted by General Patton’s 3rd Army.
The Americans are somewhat heroes around here.
We are planning on heading to Germany tomorrow where at least we will be able to communicate with the locals, even if slowly.