Saturday, October 31, 1987

1987 Halloween (10/31/1987)

Saturday, October 31, 1987
Kyle's and Erich's Jack o' Lanterns
Kyle's Jack o' Lantern
Erich's Jack o' Lantern
 The boys make the design, and Kent cuts.
Erich as a Knight and Kyle as Dracula
The Knight, Dracula, and the Headless Horseman

Sunday, October 11, 1987

1987 Low Countries: Battlefields (10/10/1987)

Saturday, October 10, 1987
Today we left at 9:00, with everybody in the Ls’ marvelous blue Volvo 740 series sedan. It was sunny and comfortably cool, as Tom drove us out on the Ring and headed south through the Forêt de Soignes, one of the largest green spots in Brussels, full of hiking and bridle trails. We saw a couple horses, and passed the Hippodrome. The trees were just beginning to be tinged with color. We went beyond the town of Waterloo to the Butte du Lion, with a huge bronze lion statue made from molten French cannon, which faced south “menacing France.”
Butte du Lion/Butt of the Lion (just kidding)
It was placed on top of an earthen mound, tremendously steep and high, which was supposedly formed pail by pail by local housewives on the spot where the Duke of Orange fell in 1815. It opened at 9:30, and we followed the guard in.  Tom and Dot sent us up the stairs, and Kent set a torrid pace. Stopped about halfway up to have our photo taken. Not a place to stop if you don’t like heights, plus the wind was fiercely blowing! Once at the top, we viewed the underside of the lion, where the base is marked “18 Juin 1815,” the victory day of the Battle of Waterloo. Here, the Duke of Wellington, with the help of the Duke of Orange and Dutch troops defeated Napoleon. There were 220,000 troops versus 120,000 French.
Head of the lion
We surveyed the farmland below where the battle took place, and saw a map showing troop placement.
Waterloo farmland
The stairs
As we descended, we counted steps, and I came up with 218, and Kent had 236. The guidebook says there are 226 steps. Since we kept hold on the railing, we ended up with orange dust on our hands from rust. At the Panorama we paid 60 BEF/$1.60 each to see the huge mural in the round, depicting the battle, with important figures and places marked. There was a tiny museum that included a copy of Napoleon’s death mask.
Panorama ticket
We returned to the car and once back on the highway, several driver blunders were pointed out to illustrate the incompetence of Belgian drivers who, up until 1974, were able to apply for a license through the mail. Now there is a road test to pass. The roads are excellent, but the drivers are not. Looking down from the Ls’ apartment, we saw people stopping in the middle of the rotary!

We passed flat farmland, where they get three plantings per year. Saw many a farm “hof,” farm buildings around a walled-in courtyard, like the picture at the farm of Huguenot, where British troops holed up at Waterloo. Crossed the Meuse River with the city of Namur to the right, and steep cliffs of the gorge to the left. We were moving along a quite a clip, 135 kmh/85 mph. Went from route A4 to N4 towards Bastogne. The countryside became hilly as we approached the Ardennes region, the area of Shakespeare's “As You Like It.” Drove through the town of Bastogne, and followed our noses to the Mardasson Monument on Mardasson Hill, a monument to the 70,000 US soldiers who fought in the historic Battle of the Bulge in the bitter winter of 1944 under Brigadier General Anthony MacAuliffe, who responded to the German demands for surrender with the word “Nuts!” American troops held an overwhelming number of German troops at bay until weather conditions improved for Allied reinforcements to be flown in.
Mardasson Monument
The 101st Airborne Division kept Hitler from turning the tide and perhaps winning the war. The star-shaped gallery memorial had the names of the states and branches of the Armed Forces units involved. It was designed by Georges Dedoyard and dedicated in 1950.
US Sherman M4 (105) tank
Tom, Dot, and Kent with German Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer tank destroyer
Town of Bastogne
I used a restroom for 6 BEF/15 cents, and the attendant asked if she could exchange quarters for dollar bills, as the local bank did not accept coins.
We saw mole trails,

Mole hills
slugs, and a sign saying “Do Not Urinate” in three languages, but in English it said, “Commit No Nuisance.”
Saw cows, rolling countryside, and peeked into a crypt. Three tanks stood outside the museum.
We drove back through town to find the road to the Duchy of Luxembourg. Stopped at a red light at the border, but no one seemed interested. We continued into the charming country where we felt like we were on a road through a national park, with mountainous forest and campgrounds by the river. There were new shoots in the fields even up here. Stone or stucco houses with shutters or exterior blinds, whereas Belgium had no window protection. Wound through the town of Ettelbruck and found the statue of General George Patton with an eagle on the pedestal, and a Sherman M4 A1 tank nearby.
General George Patton
The statue is a copy of the one (1950 by James Earle Fraser) at West Point. Apparently all of Luxembourg was a WWII battle ground, but it doesn’t look it.
Also saw a thatched roof house. We made our way to the castle town of Vianden in a little river (Our River) valley, looking a bit like Switzerland. Stopped at a point to look across the valley towards the castle.
Vianden Castle
Vianden Castle close-up
Lower castle tower
We drove through the crowded town to a park, and ate at a terrace restaurant looking out on the swift running river. It was very sunny. The others had Diekirch beers, and I had Rosbot sparkling mineral water. Three of us had the Truite/Trout Meunière with salad and French fries, fried and served whole. I shared mine with Kent who had the Jambon d’Ardennes/smoked ham like prosciutto, also with salad and fries. Kent and Tom had second beers and the bill came to 1455 Luxembourg francs (LUF)/$38.30. Belgium and Luxembourg are on the same monetary system, although LUF are not accepted in Belgium. Kent tried to pay, but Tom prevailed (Dot and I were in the restroom).
Went to see the bust of Victor Hugo who died in Vianden.
Bust of Victor Hugo (replica of 1902 bust)
by Auguste Rodin
Castle and bridge
Drove back to the other side of town and Kent and I were let off at the castle. We paid 80 LUF/$2.10 each to enter the castle that had been gutted in 1871, but restoration work began in 1978. It was first constructed about 1100, with additions built into the 13th century, with a final addition in 1621.
Vianden Castle ticket
Vianden Castle guide
Made a quick tour through the rooms, some empty, and some furnished. Apparently the lower chapel was for prisoners who could at least hear the Mass in the upper chapel.
Kent at Vianden Castle
View down on the town
View of Vianden Dam (1959-1964)
View of countryside
View of the River Our and Vianden
A few of the bigger halls were set up for a wedding and banquet reception, with something that looked like waffles on a vertical souvlaki-like skewer. As we left, we noticed police and army personnel, and crowds of people who looked like they expected someone well-known to arrive for this event.
We walked down the main road to meet Tom and Dot at 15:15 at a café, then hopped in the car to drive to Luxembourg City. A woman guided us in backing out of the crowded parking space. We have seen several women sweeping the street in front of their curbs. It was getting cloudy.
I finally got the fishbone out of my throat, which had been stuck for most of the afternoon! Kent said he missed the TV antennas on the rooftops.
Luxembourg City was a challenge with one-way streets. Saw a flea market at Place du Theatre. Went to the Liens’ secret parking space below the Adolphe Bridge, where the tourist train usually begins. We walked up to follow the casemates to Place de la Constitution, and looked down the steep ravine at the trickle of the Pétrusse River in a concrete trough. Kent said there was an Adolphe Bridge in Cleveland. OH. I think he meant there was an open spandrel bridge like the Adolphe Bridge!
Adolphe Bridge (1900-1903) designed by
Frenchman Paul Séjourné and Luxembourger Albert Rodange
The casemates in Luxembourg are said to have miles of tunnels. In Place de la Constitution, there was the Monument de Souvenir/Remembrance, a memorial to the Luxembourgers who died in the first World War, which the Nazis tried to destroy.
It started raining when we entered the Cathedral of Our Lady of Luxembourg, built in 1613-1621 in Gothic style with a Renaissance entrance. It contains the crypt of the royal family. Pilgrimages are made to the miraculous statue of the Holy Virgin. There are some paintings and stained glass windows.
Next the large Place Guillaume with the City Hall to one side, normally the place for the Saturday market. Then Place d’Armes where we were to meet the Ls in about an hour, but it seemed like only 15 minutes! The rain had let up, and there was an Apple Festival going on, with a band on a mobile bandstand. People were squeezing apples and I had a cup of very fresh apple juice for 20 LUF/52 cents. Why, it tasted just like apples! The others had a glass of Mousel beer, and Kent and Tom had Thuringer sausages with caraway seeds on hard rolls. Dot bought an apple kuchen to take home. We started heading home at 17:30, and it was already dark. No one at the border. The whole highway is lighted with yellow or red street lights. We arrived in Brussels and the Woluwe area where the Ls live, drove up Avenue de Mai to an Italian restaurant called La Romana. The three others got Maes-Pils, and I had a Spa. Dot had the avocado stuffed with crab salad and Tom had a pizza Quattro Stagione. Kent had the tortelloni (the big ones!) with pesto sauce, and I had spaghetti carbonara that was very rich. The others had a second beer that came in Carlsberg glasses. Beer is supposed to be served in properly decaled glasses, and my water usually comes in a plain glass. At lunch, I did have Rosbot glass. Again Tom took over paying the bill of 1450 BEF/$38. We noticed that Tom leaves the coins from the change.
Back at the Ls', Kent tried a Pauwel Kwak beer, an Oud Hoegaards, and a Bush beer. The Kwak was very berry fruity. The Oud was very light but cloudy, and tasted orange-y. The Bush was a very strong beer.

Sunday, October 11, 1987
Up at 7:30 to shower and pack, managing to squeeze in everything. For breakfast we had the apple kuchen, with a cake-like crust and with raisins in it, and not as sweet as our apple pie. We left at 9:30 to the airport, where Tom dropped us off and went to park. We checked in and managed to take our bags as carry-ons. We met Tom and went to a café for drinks. I had hot chocolate, Dot had orange juice, and the guys had espressos. This time Kent was able to treat, a whole 300 BEF/$7.90! At 10:30 we said our goodbyes and thank-yous, and got in line for the border check. At the x-ray, they took Kent’s garment bag to check for a knife, but it turned out to be the hook for hanging the bag. In the duty-free shopping area, we bought a couple t-shirts and chocolate, spending another 1000 BEF/$26.30.
Brussels to Boston boarding pass
Boarded at 11:20 and left the gate 5 minutes late at 11:45. We were in another DC-10 that seems to need to run the length of the runway to take off, because of fuel weight. This time we both rented headsets for $3 each. We got our beverages, and Kent got a blue pin for his first beer, a Maes-Pils. Lunch was at 13:00, but 8:00 Eastern time! Light brown beef-tasting chunks in a white sauce with noodles and baby carrots. A salad of one piece of lettuce, a tomato wedge, an olive, lots of bean sprouts, and canned mushrooms in a white sauce. Also a roll with butter, crackers and Gouda cheese, a pear tart and Spa water. Kent got another beer, this time a Tiger beer from Singapore, sponsored by Heineken. Read an abbreviated version of USA Today available for free at the airport, listened to music, and dozed. Watched “The Fourth Protocol.”
At 17:00, or noon Eastern time, we had another meal; a sandwich with liverwurst and a slice of cheese, a boiled egg and a tomato wedge, fruit cocktail, and a tiny Godiva chocolate, with water.
Godiva chocolate wrapper
Kent got a Stella Artois beer. We landed in Boston 5 minutes late at 14:10, where it was cold and rainy. Things went smoothly through passport check and customs, and we were able to catch the 14:30 bus to Providence. Seemed like half the bus trip was sitting in the tunnel, even when taking the long cut to avoid traffic. Home in time for peak autumn colors, and some still-green trees. We arrived in Providence at 16:15, and I called Donna P who came right down to pick us up.

End of 1987 Low Countries trip.

Friday, October 9, 1987

1987 Low Countries: Antwerp (10/9/1987)

Friday, October 9, 1987
The wind was whistling against the windows all night, but we slept well. After breakfast, we left about 8:30 and caught the #29 bus. The machine would not stamp the 10th ride, but we rode anyway.
10-ride ticket
We noticed that no one was carrying umbrellas today; a good sign? It was fairly sunny. We took the Metro to the Central Station to catch the 9:31 train to Antwerp, or Anvers as the conductor asked in French. Saw a guy eating a hot dog with sauerkraut. Saw greenhouses near Kontich. The sun is creating silhouettes of gray clouds, worthy of a cloudscape painting. Saw an interesting brick water tower for the railroad, with white brick design patterns. The bridges of the train tracks in Antwerp had stone turrets along the walls. Arrived at 10:13 and were immediately impressed by the huge station with the old glassed-in hall and clock, and the ornate lobby.
Antwerp train station
Built in 1895-1905, it is now a national monument, but it is being restored, as much of Europe continues to hide behind scaffolding. Out to Konigin Astridplein, a large square surrounded by cafés and cinemas. We went to Pierrot, sort of a fast food café, to have coffee and hot chocolate, and share a chocolate pastry and a huge butter croissant. Very flaky. There are a lot of pastry shops in Belgium, where we have drooled at window displays. We walked down de Keyserlei and crossed the Ring; a big city look to the area.
Old and new: View down Keyserlei from Frankrijklei
We took an alley over to the Lange Nieuwstraat to find St Jakob’s church, which was open as a museum. It was built in 1491 by the older Waghemakere.
Sint Jaconskerk/St James Church
Could not determine the carved marble communion table by Hendrick Frans Verbruggen (along with Kerricx in the 17th century), but have since seen he is a prolific sculptor! Willem Kerricx did the painting of the Apotheosis of St James, the thing topping the altarpiece, I believe! Peeked into the choir to see the wooden carved choirstalls by Artus Quellin, with family coats of arms of benefactors, of which Peter Paul Rubens was one. In the fourth chapel around the back was the marked tomb of Rubens, with his painting of the Holy Family above the chapel altar. In cases around the choir were liturgical vestments and articles, books, etc.Also photos of the remains of Rubens!
Left and crossed the street where you had to stay within the curb so as not to get brushed by a passing tram! Down an alley to the restored 19th century galleried Bourse/Beurs, a commercial exchange dated 1564, with wrought-iron pieces supporting the ceilings, and coats of arms and maps on the walls.
Bourse/former stock exchange
Now is it a shortcut or an exhibition hall? Crossing Meir Street, we looked down to see the Torengebouw/Tower bock named Boerentoren, a 24-story early skyscraper, the first in Europe.
Boerentoren (1928-1931) 
We made a wrong turn and ended up at the circular end of the city Bourla Theater (1829-1834) with busts of Mozart, Molière Racine, etc. Saw a bust of Racine in the Brussels art gallery between old and new along with George Washington! Passed the Mayer van den Bergh Museum in a house built by his mother to house his collection, next to a modern glass building.
Mayer van der Bergh House (1901-1904)
Unusual building
Went to Sint Augustinus/St Augustine’s (1615-1618 designed by Wenzel Coebergher) to view a Peter Paul Rubens and Jan van Eyck paintings, but the early Baroque church was changed into an exhibition hall, with an exhibit on monuments (including the Statue of Liberty) with mostly photos. Went down another alley past interesting wooden doors to find the locked up Sint Andrieskerk/St Andrew’s Church (1513, expanded 1529), so no look at a Pourbus portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots. Walked all around it at first, but finally found the Plantin-Moretus Museum on a small square with a flea market of antiques and auction with crowds of people standing around. The origins of the market was in public sales by the bailiff of debtors’ impounded goods. We paid 50 BEF/$1.30 to enter the museum, in a 16th century house of a French painter who named type-faces.
Plantin-Moretus Museum ticket
He was commissioned by Philip II and was made the Archtypographer Royal. This was the most important printing shop of his time, with 22 presses and printing 50-60 volumes a year. It was also a meeting place of the International Humanist thinkers. We were guided from room to room, some set up as in the period, and most with display cases of a variety of books, from handwritten and illuminated texts and manuscripts from the 9-16th centuries, to early printed volumes, and examples of works done by Plantin presses. Ended up in the proof-reader’s room, then went through several libraries. Saw copper and wood block print plates, and a great amount of type-faces, including scripts of other languages, music, etc. Went through the printing room with a good dozen presses.
Upstairs we saw the type foundry, where they made the type using punches to make molds, then creating the type. There was also a bedroom, dining room, and kitchen off the Renaissance courtyard with ivy on the walls.
Plantin-Moretus Museum
Bed (KSS)
In these rooms were tapestries, and works of art including numerous portraits by Rubens, eighteen they say! Plus furniture, Dutch tile stoves, leather walls with intricate punched designs (“gilt Spanish leather”), stained glass in the windows, wood-beamed ceilings, creaky wood floors, and plank doors between rooms. From upstairs we could look down on the antique market.
Flea market
The museum was quite extensive.
Next we headed to the Grote Markt and bought some French fries with mayonnaise to nibble at noon.
Grote Markt
At one side of the market we saw the house where Anthony van Dyck was born. In the center of this square was a statue of Salvius Brabo, a Roman centurion and hero to the city because he overcame the giant Antigon who terrorized the port by severing the hands of marines who didn’t pay the toll to enter the Scholde River.
Brabo Fountain
Salvius Brabo statue (1887 by Jef Lambeaux)
Brabo gave the giant the same fate by cutting off his hand and throwing it into the river. The name of the city comes from the word for hand (ant), and to throw (werpen). The statue’s fountain was in a slightly depressed area, with no basin.
Behind it was the Town Hall, designed by Cornelius Floris de Vriendt, but it was burned by the Spaniards in 1576, and restored in 1579.
Stadhuis/Town Hall
The square was surrounded by guildhouses, the most opulent from the 16th century.
Guildhouses on north side of square
Fountain in Handshoenmarkt
We headed to the Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal/Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady and paid 3 BEF/8 cents each to enter. Set up like a museum also; it seems churches are no longer churches in Belgium. This is the largest Gothic church in the Lowlands, begun in 1352 by Appelmans and son, and in the 15th century the de Waghemakeres added to it. In 1520, de Waghemakere, Jr and Malinois Keldermans worked on the tower (they also restored The Steen). Philip II, keeping traditions of the House of Burgundy, revived the Order of the Golden Fleece chapter in 1555. Then in 1565-1566 and 1581, the iconoclasts smashed the statuary, damaging the church. In 1794-1800, during the French Occupation, the place was plundered, taking the Rubens paintings and removing the stained glass. The church was deconsecrated. Part of the treasure was recovered in 1816 after the fall of Napoleon. Rubens’ “Elevation of the Cross” was being restored, but could be seen to note the Italian influence on his painting after a trip to Italy. Up front in the makeshift nave was the triptych of “The Deposition” by Rubens, which was done later in 1614 in a more mature style.  There was an “Assumption” (1626) over the altar, done in his fluffy style. Saw a “Last Supper” (1503) by Nicolas Rumbouts, and lots of Verbruggen sculptures, including a marble communion rail to the right of the center altar. There was stained glass, a Madonna of Antwerp in a flowing blue cape, Verbruggen carved confessionals, lots of sculptures and paintings by Quellins, some liturgical treasures, etc. Peeked at the transept crossing and apse where they are presently uncovering the crypts, and saw a skeleton being uncovered. I bought a few postcards for 60 BEF/$1.60 and we exited out back to Groenplats, which was not green as the name implies, but cobbled. There was a statue of Peter Paul Rubens.
Peter Paul Rubens statue (1843) by Willem Geefs
We headed towards the river on some shopping streets, passing an abandoned medieval building with bars in the windows. Arrived at Sint Paulus/St Paul’s church, a 16th century Gothic exterior, where the local hookers saved the paintings from a fire in the 1960s. The church was closed in the afternoons in the winter, so we couldn’t see yet another Rubens painting.
St Paul's Church
A basketball court in the square.
Basketball court
Fancy parking lot on Ernest van Dijkkaai
Walked to the river for a glimpse of Metropole, the 5th largest port in the world with the fastest turn-around time. It came into its own when the Zwin River silted up in the 15th century, closing the Bruges port.
Barge on the River Schelde
View towards the port
We walked to Steen Castle, one of the few traces of medieval Antwerp dating to the 9-10th centuries, but much of it no older than 1520. Started out as a fortification, and in the 13th century it was a prison, but now is a Maritime Museum. At the entrance ramp was a statue of the Lange Wapper, two little sailors looking up between the legs of a giant.
Steen Castle and the Lange Wapper statue (1963 by Albert Poels)
Steen Castle entrance
We went up to a terrace to look back over the city.
View down Suikerrui towards Antwerp Cathedral
Passed a Jesuit church, then made our way back towards Roosevelt Plats.
St Carolus Borromeuskerk/Jesuit Church (1621)
Passed the opera and followed Pelikanstraat with all the gold and diamond shops. Did some window shopping in the diamond quarter, but did not see anything unique and appealing. Antwerp has 500 years of diamond cutting experience, and its own diamond bourse/exchange. Forty percent of the world’s diamond cutting and sixty percent of the dealing is done here. Originally most of their diamonds came from India.
Found the restaurant Gianni on De Keyserlei to have lunch. I had a Perrier with cheese croquettes and French fries, and Kent had a Belle Vue Geuze beer with a cheese omelet; both dishes were garnished with lettuce, a tomato wedge, grated carrot, as well as mayonnaise with a tiny radish stuck in it, and a twist of cucumber. Service seems to be included, so we left 500 BEF/$13 for the 460 BEF/$12 bill. We changed more money, and headed to the other side of the train station to Dierentuin, the zoo; one of the most modern zoological gardens in Europe. Still looks ancient to us, but they are working on it. A lot was closed due to construction. We didn’t see the light curtain in the aviary, in fact, we didn’t find any aviary, nor the cold air curtain to keep in the pythons. Fortunately they were in typical glass enclosures in the reptile house. Saw lots of monkeys and many gorillas. Lots of southeastern species and a few others with which we weren’t familiar.
Okapia johnstoni/Okapi
Zoo garden
Probably a Castor canadensis/North American Beaver
At feeding time the eagles were given white rats, and the monkeys picked out the banana pieces and peeled them. It appeared the male monkeys had first dibs on the food. One species of monkeys was given large bird fetuses to eat. Saw a wandering two-horned rhino, and heard and saw a roaring lion.
Probably a Ceratotherium simum/White Rhinoceros
Went through the aquarium quickly. There seemed to be a lot of one species, with five boa constrictors in one enclosure, 100 turtles in a pool, etc. Saw 4-horned sheep from Scotland next to the bighorn sheep, and a stable of “very dangerous” animals, being long-horned cattle varieties, a bison, and a dark and shaggy yak. Lots of ink flamingos and generally very healthy-looking animals. There was a newborn gibbon with a showoff father. Peeked into the delphinarium before being ushered out at closing time, and before that the nocturama with half the animals sleeping! Paid 260 BEF/$6.85, where it seemed most of the people were dressed up!
Antwerp Zoo ticket
We were encouraged to leave by 17:15, since the zoo was closing. Went to the train station to try to catch the 17:19 train, but missed it. So we bought a Belgian waffle soaked in a sugary syrup, and Kent got a Stella Artois. Caught the 17:29 train to Brussels, arriving at the Central Station after 18:00. We hopped on the wrong Metro at first, but at the next station got a train going to our branch of the ‘Y.’ Got off at Roodebeck and followed the signs to the Woluwe shopping center that looked like a typical mall. Found an electronic soccer game for Kyle and Erich, and more beers for Kent. We decided to eat, but had trouble deciding where, because we couldn’t determine who had Belgian specialties. We ended up at L’Esterel in the mall, and I had a Spa and Kent another Stella Artois on tap. We shared mussels Provençal, with a thick tomato marinara sauce with onions and green peppers. Also had a Suprême de Volaille/chicken breasts gypsy style in a tomato-wine sauce with mushrooms. Paid 800 BEF/$21 for the 775 BEF/$20.40 bill. We caught the bus, but since it was a cool clear night, we decided to walk the 3 stops, getting 10 minutes of exercise after dinner.
Back at the Liens, Kent tried a Leffe Radieuse beer, very sweet and rich. Then a Rodenbach, similar, but not quite as rich. Tom came home at 23:00 and Kent tried a Cuvée de Cincy, kind of bitter.

Next: Battlefields.