Belgium, a small country south of the Netherlands and home to Belgium fries, Belgium waffles, and Belgium chocolate. As usual, food is on my mind. The highway down went through a place in Belgium where I finally saw what looks like a "bad" section of town, so to speak. I've been looking for where one might live if one was poor, but until this past weekend have not come across anything that seemed to be a European ghetto. There was grafitti along a small stretch of the highway, (much of it in English) and a factory spewing forth thick red fumes of something undoubtedly noxious. Luik, the Dutch name for the city, even had abandoned buildings. Of course, that's nothing compared to what we have in the US, so I'll have to keep looking. Once over the border, the roads were noticeably worse, but the drivers better. Go figure. I asked about gas prices, and it seems that if we translated correctly it might be somewhere between $6-$8 a gallon.
We stayed at Boele's place (a biker Inn) in the village of Lierneux.
This is the view from the front. Belgium has hills and mountains. It is the prettiest place in Europe I have been so far.
The owner, Jan. He has a small collection of hats, and kindly tried on a few for me. I love hats!
My friend Krull looking cool. He gives me chocolate candy. Yay!
Look closely, that was all green grass - it's now covered in frost.
I wonder where this road goes? Yeah, it's actually a road.
Jeroen with his new Motorbike Touring Club tee-shirt. It's a Dutch joke.
Lots of pine and forests in Belgium. I also saw quite a bit of logging.
Yeah, it's a French place to get frites! Which I did, of course. Why are they not called french fries here? Hmm... Now that I've had German food and Belgium food, I can tell you that it has been my experience that Dutch food is the best - particularly their patat with mayonaise. I have since learned that the Dutch mayonaise is sweeter, and made differently than what we Americans know as mayonaise.
It's warmed up enough, so we can sit outside and enjoy the sun.
An American war memorial. This is in the Belgian countryside along the Baraque de Fraiture crossroads. This hotly contested battlefield was the scene of a collision between Americans and German Waffen SS and Volksgrenadier units during the Battle of the Bulge. It was later to be known as “Parker’s Crossroads”, named after Major Arthur C. Parker III, the Commander of the 589th Field Artillery unit assigned to this sector. I also read somewhere that the nearby village where the Americans and Germans fought was completely destroyed save for one building. I'd link you to the photos, but they are too much for me to look at. Very sad.
A detailed history of the battle is in this soldier's account: Parker's Crossroads Revisited
There are a lot of war memorials here and in the Netherlands I've seen dedicated to Americans who fought in WWII. People talk about The War as if it was just a short bit ago. While when I was in America, the Gulf war seemed so far away, and not something that touched my life in any significant way. Quite a difference from over here... I think Americans would be better served by learning as much history as they can from the people who lived it. It really puts a different perspective on things.