Tuesday, October 6, 1987

1987 Low Countries: Rhine Valley and Liège (10/6/1987)

Tuesday, October 6, 1987
Up at 7:30 and down for breakfast where we learned we could order a continental breakfast of coffee and hot chocolate, orange juice, a basket of six rolls, butter, four jams, two liverwurst slices, a couple of cheese packages, and honey and a chocolate spread! Got our bags and checked out, and learned that breakfast was included in the price of the room! A special for Dyckerhoff. So we worried needlessly about the price of breakfast and we were glad we hadn’t gone out to eat breakfast! The hotel bill was 403 DM/$217.
We got to the train station at 9:00 to await the 9:19 train to Köln; on time. We used a baggage cart to take our luggage to the far end of the platform to where the First Class coaches would be. Before Kent figured how to use the bar to release the brake, he said this wasn’t going to be any easier than carrying our things! (We don't have much experience with luggage carts, since we refuse to pay to use them in the US, but here they are free!) The diagrams showing the position of the train cars has been helpful. Footstools in first class.
An S-Bahn DB 420 train leaving Wiesbaden
As we approached Mainz, we saw the Dyckerhoff headquarters with a big red letter ‘D’ and the cement factory.
Dyckerhoff factory
Dyckerhoff headquarters
Dyckerhoff complex
Kent on the train
Crossed the Rhine on a nice and sunny day. Oops! Ran into some thick clouds. Above the Rüdesheim vineyards we could see the Niederwalder Monument, an immense statue of Germania, erected by Bismarck in 1883 to commemorate the reunification of Germany. Rüdesheim and Wiesbaden are in the Rheingau area, home to Riesling wines, and three 13th century castles. Rüdesheim vineyards date to the time of the Roman Emperor Probus. We passed through what must have been Bingen with the Klopp Castle on the hill across the river, built on Roman ruins and now a hotel. There was a castle on an island in the river, called Mäuseturm/Mouse Tower that served as a signal tower until 1974. The name comes from the legend where an evil Bishop from Mainz was eaten by mice.
Passing the town of Lorch
Nollig Burg/Castle
A white-painted Pfalzgrafenstein Castle also sat on an island in the Rhine.
Pfalzgrafensteon Burg/Castle
We passed the Lorelei cliff, with a German flag and another flag of red, yellow, and blue (?). (N.B. Probably black instead of blue for the state flag of Rhineland-Palatinate.)
Burg Maus/Mouse Castle
It was raining on parts of the Rhine, which seems to always be bending in one direction, as if going in a circle! Grapes haven’t been harvested yet.
Arrived in Köln on time at 11:07, and went from track two to eleven to wait for our train to Belgium. Bought a couple bratwurst and a Küppers Kölsch beer and a Coca-cola for 10 DM/$5.40 before hopping on the 11:15 train. Found seats in a coach car rather than in a compartment, with the end seats marked for the handicapped. We ate our lunch, then dozed. At Düren, there were sugar beet mountains by the sugar plant. Saw a couple nuclear power plants near Koblenz and Düren. After Aachen, our passports were checked and we were in Belgium again.
We arrived in Liège at 12:42, and found a baggage locker for 15 BEF/40 cents. We went to the post office to call Dot L to let her know when we would arrive. That cost us 20 BEF/53 cents. At the tourist info booth, we had to purchase a pamphlet, and the girl didn’t have change, so let us have 65 BEF/$1.71 worth of things for 63 BEF/$1.65. We walked into town along Rue des Guillemins, which appeared to have a lot of eateries. Came to Parc d’Avroy, which was packed with carnival rides, games, and snack booths. At the Terrasses there were esplanade gardens with flowers in full bloom, and four bronze statues around the outer perimeter. First was the “Plough Ox at Rest” by Leon Mignon,
Boeuf du Labour au repose/Plough Ox at Rest (1885-1886)
and nearer the River Meuse was perhaps the “Boatman’s Horse” by Jules Halkin.
Le cheval du batelier et son conducteur/Boatman's Horse (1885)
On the far side were “Tamed Horse” by Alphonse de Tombay and “Bull Tamer” by Leon Mignon.
Les Terrasses
Across the street in the park was a relatively smaller bronze statue which seemed to be the National Monument to the Resistance. We crossed a bridge, looking down river at the Palais du Congres, built in 1958, which has a 125-foot mobile hanging in its glass façade, but too much glare to see it.
La Palais du Congres
We walked along the Meuse River as the sun went in and it began to rain, but it stopped in just a couple minutes. Sun. Rain. If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute!
Kent walking along the Meuse
Walked down some side streets of the Outre-Meuse area to find old world buildings, and one of the niches for the Virgin Mary.
Outre-Meuse street
Virgin Mary niche
Backtracked to see the Monument Tschantches, a statue of the satirical puppet by Zomer, which supposedly has several costumes and uniforms like the Mannekin Pis.
Monument Tschantches
Tschantches is a marionette imported to Liège in 1860 by a Tuscan maker of figures. It has become the characteristic figure and symbol of Liège, with an inclination to antics and swashbuckling.
Crossed back over the river on a pedestrian bridge to see the Gothic Renaissance style post office built in 1901 by the architect Edmond Jamar.
La Grand Poste/Main post office
We circled the university and headed towards the Cathedral of St Paul, an immense structure right in the city with narrow streets separating it from other buildings.
Cathédrale Saint-Paul/Cathedral of St Paul dating
to the 
13th and 14th centuries
Impressive inside, although there was not an immediate way to get in to see the Cathedral Treasure, a gold reliquary given by Charles the Bold to expiate his sins. Went down a narrow street to another church that of St Jacques, a flamboyant Gothic church with a Romanesque narthex and Renaissance porch.
Église Saint Jacques/Church of St James
In front of the Conservatory was a bust of the violinist Ysaye, there being a violin school in Liege. It is also known as the city of 100 steeples, and we could see the tower of the basilica on a hill beyond the train station. Saw a statue of Charlemagne at the end of Parc d’Avroy, and another church of round domes. Liège was once considered the Walloon Venice, and it was an Episcopal city founded by St Lambert, a martyr. Governed by bishops until 1789. The Meuse basin area inspired Mosan art.
Walked through the carnival and returned to the train station. Bought a waffle with cherry pie filling for 40 BEF/$1.05. It was okay. Got our bags and went to the platform, where we had a choice of trains to take. Took the fastest, the Gustav Eiffel headed towards Paris, leaving at 14:52. Passed farmland and it is raining quite heavily again. New shoots in the fields. Neat (as in tidy) farmhouses and gardens. Lots of rowhouse-type apartments. Saw a lot full of Jettas and other VWs.
Arrived at the fairly sunny Brussels North Station at 15:48 and went in search of the Metro and multi-fare tickets. No info available, so we bought one-way tickets from a man in a booth for 35 BEF/90 cents each.
Pre-Metro ticket
Went down to the so-called Pre-Metro, being trams in a subway. Several lines went our way and we hopped on for two stops to De Broukere. Changed to line 1 of the real Metro, and took train 1B towards Alma, getting off at Roodebeak. Transferred to bus #29 towards Hof-Ten-Berg, taking it for three stops to Marcel Thiry, and right there was our destination. Rang the doorbell and Dot L buzzed us in to take the elevator to the 6th floor. We had arrived! I had iced tea and Kent had a Stella Artois beer as we chatted with Dot. A thunderhead rolled in and we had quite a rainstorm. Dot made dinner of a crabmeat salad on lettuce and tomato with olives and pickles, and then cheese and macaroni accompanied by peas, a hard roll with butter, all served artistically. Dot let us do a small load of laundry, and we showered. The faucets are marked opposite to those in the US, and I let the water run a while before realizing it wasn’t going to get hot this way! We learned that the autumn colors are late this year, probably because of all the rain. Here in Brussels, people are speaking French and Flemish. Signs are in both languages.

Next: Bruges.

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