Our plan for three days at the start of this week is simple. We are aiming to be with Marie-Françoise and Roland in Switzerland by Tuesday evening and to do that in relatively easy stages. Today we were aiming to drive south through Holland and across Belgium toward Luxembourg.
We woke about 7:00 am to bright sunlight and mostly clear blue skies, a dramatic change from recent days. Rianna had baked fresh croissants, pastries, and rolls for breakfast so we had those with honey or jam, bread, cheese, cold meat, fruit, and coffee. It was a magnificent meal. After breakfast we sorted out our gear, packed it back in the car, bade farewells, and were on the road at about 9:15 am with a bit less than 350 km driving ahead of us.
Majella drove us south on the A4 highway past familiar places until somewhere south of Rotterdam we entered new territory just before we crossed into Belgium. By then it was approaching 11:00 am and time for coffee. We are not fans of stopping at the highway service centres so we pulled off the highway near a small town, Brecht. We saw a couple of bakeries doing good trade but found nowhere selling coffee and drove on.
The road took us south past Antwerp toward Brussels. At first the countryside in Belgium resembled that in Holland, low and flat with canals but that soon changed to include more thickly wooded areas among the farmland and fewer signs of water. Once we turned and headed east from Brussels the land became more undulating and occasionally we found ourselves heading down from the tops of substantial hills.
As we headed east and time drew on I began to think about a lunch stop and identified Namur as suitable. It was described as having an old citadel at the junction of two rivers, the Sambre and the Meuse and some interesting old buildings. By that time we were into the French-speaking area of Belgium and more confident with the signage and Majella’s ability to handle the language.
As we arrived in Namur we could see activity across the river from the central area. We made a circuit of the central area looking for parking on the street but finished in an underground carpark from which we emerged into the central square. It was occupied today by an agricultural fair promoting local produce. After looking around there for a while we bought fresh cooked local sausage in chunks of crusty baguette for lunch before walking on to see more of the town.
A bridge across the River Sambre gave us a view of the citadel on the hill across the river lined by trees that were already beginning to change colour with the end of summer. We did not investigate the citadel more closely but we did visit the Archeological Museum that has been established in a brick building that was erected in the 16th century by order of the Spanish who ruled Belgium at the time. It was built as a meat market but now houses a wide variety of relics from archeological work in the local area. There were pottery, glass and metal objects dating back to Roman times. Most had been found in old cemeteries.
We had coffee in a local café before walking back to the car. On the way our attention was caught by what appeared to be a group of cowboys performing in the fair area. They were singing what they described as American Roots music and dressed to match. We listened to a few numbers, mostly sung in English, before we needed to collect the car to avoid being charged for a second hour of parking.
Another hour and a bit of driving brought us to our accommodation in Seviscourt outside Libramont at about 3:00 pm. La Parenthèse is a two room bed and breakfast operated by Paulette but we are the only guests tonight. We drove past it on the street before turning and driving back checking numbers but by then Paulette was waving from a window. She welcomed us with a cup of tea and provided information about restaurants in Libramont.
Majella rested for a couple of hours while I attended to some, but not all, of my email backlog. We drove back into Libramont at about 6:00 pm to look for dinner. The first place Majella had selected from Paulette’s list was not open but we eventually found dinner at Brasserie Le Celtic where Majella had quiche and I had pizza. Majella was able to follow her quiche with a chocolate gaufre (waffle) but my pizza had been more than enough. The bar was crowded when we arrived with people from an event that had finished earlier in the area across the street beside the Musée des Celtes. We had not been aware that the Celtic heritage spread to this area but they were here when the Romans arrived.
The rest of the evening was spent quietly in our room. Majella was able to find some English language television programs which she hopes will be suitably sleep inducing.