Week 2.5 – France, Belgium and Germany


belgium borderWe’ve been in Europe for 2 days and already there is much to report.

We arrived in Paris after an uneventful flight from Montreal.  The biggest excitement was that we were sitting right beside the bathroom and the door would not shut automatically. So I spent much of the flight just reaching over to shut the door. Enough said…

Charles DeGaulle Airport was easy enough to navigate in. We found our rental car and scooted off towards Belgium for the night. I have to say it was difficult to stay awake for that 4 hour trip north, having only slept maybe an hour or so on the plane. But we made it to our hotel in Mons in time for an afternoon nap before exploring the city. Just a side note, traffic was heavy with campers and cars filled with vacationers, probably going home after a vacation in the south.

Maier house

Mons is very old but it is remembered for being the first battle between the Germans and the Brits in WW1 and the last battle where the Canadians liberated the city. We saw a plaque commemmorating that in the Maier house (City Hall).

Grand place Mons

We took a walk in the Grand Place where the old city hall building and the Royal Theatre are. It’s a lovely venue where restaurants offer outdoor seating, all facing the lovely old buildings and the fountain. Of note was the interesting wood sculpture at the entrance of the Grand Place. We never could find the name of the sculptor or the work of art.

Mons sculpture

We went back to our room by 9pm and got a really good sleep, in spite of the fact that I couldn’t open windows because hungry mosquitoes were out to eat me. Leon says that’s cause I don’t eat bananas as he never gets bitten and eats a banana each day.

This morning we ate a few strawberries I had bought yesterday and had a cup of tea in the room before driving north to Osnabruck, Germany, about 4.5 hours.  Of course it took us most of the day as first we hit heavy rain and then we had to stop for a late breakfast and an afternoon cuppa.

Our hotel in Osnabruck is very quaint, much better than last night’s. The owner/manager speaks no English so I have to get my mind thinking in German. I am a bit tired still, so it all comes out in Spanish (!?!?). The room is on the upper floor facing a huge old church. St. Joseph’s is about 100 yrs old and has a carillon that chimes every 15 minutes. It seems to ring once for each 15 minutes. So that is twice on the halfhour, 3 times on the 45 minutes and 4 times on the hour plus whatever hour it is turning. So by my calculation 11pm will have 15 rings. I haven’t figured out midnight yet and I’m hoping I’ll be too deeply into sleep to care.

osnabruck church

We went for a walk before dinner to find a restaurant. We ended up in the Turkish neighbourhood and then walked back towards our hotel and went to a little pub/restaurant that seemed authentic. Well it was! The little granny made us some nice meals accompanied by a glass of Reisling/local beer. It was comical trying to figure out the menu but we had the help of a nice local man who was waiting for his take-out meal.  The venue was certainly authentic. Loved it!

We continued our walk home and decided to check out a long wall and chapel. I read there was a castle here, but it turned out to be the cemetary. As we walked through it, Leon remarked that so many of the graves were lined up like a military cemetary. We had to check it out! As I read the tombstones, I noticed many of them were from March 25, 1944. Clearly many of these people had died on that day. Must be a battle, I reasoned.  Well it turned out that Osnabruck was on a flight path for Allied bombers. On their return flights, they would unload their last cargo over this city for no reason (so I read). March 25, 1944 was a particularly bad day and the last bombing on Osnabruck.

Osnabruck cemetary

The tombstone at the front of this section of the cemetary reads:  “No one has greater love than that he gives his life for his friends.” It’s a quote from the Bible.

Osnabruck cemetary2

 

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