Monday, August 05, 2013

BELGIUM: Bastogne and La Roche-en-ardenne


Continuing on with our Luxembourg long-weekend trip...following our time in Clervaux, Luxembourg (last post), we drove into Belgium on our way home to the Netherlands.  It was a day full of sights, in 3 different countries!

After Clervaux, we stopped in Bastogne, Belgium, in the province of Luxembourg in the Ardennes.  Doesn't that all sound absolutely romantic!

Along the way from here to there, we took the back roads and got to see the things I love:
the church steeples, the roadside shrines....

...like this one!  It's the biggest one we saw, just outside of Bastogne.  It even had a love padlock!
Southern Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium are all heavily Roman Catholic areas of Europe, 
in case I didn't mention it before.

Why Astrid wanted us to see Bastogne was because of the Mardasson Memorial...
in memory of the 76,890 American soldiers killed or wounded during the Battle of the Bulge.
The Germans had launched a surprise attack on the Allied forces in the forests of the Ardennes nearby.
It was one of America's costliest battles in WWII.

The memorial is from 1950, in the shape of a pentagram, listing the 48 contemporary states.
Notice how Astrid captured me above my namesake...and my state of birth!
(she also took the top and middle left images)

The Latin inscription on the center memorial stone says,
"The Belgian people remember their American liberators – 4th July 1946."

Remember how I have said before that Europe really thanks the Americans for their part in the World Wars?!

It felt appropriate to pass by St. Peter's Church (11th-16th c) as we left town.
Who was it that said "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars!"  (Mark 13:7)

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After Bastogne, we drove 28 km to La Roche-en-ardenne, also located in the province of Luxembourg in Belgium.  (It gets real confusing if you're not paying attention!)  Astrid had been there many years earlier and wanted to see it again.

 Along the way from Bastogne...notice the cyclists!  This is Tour du France area.

It happens to be one of the most famous tourist spots in the Ardennes, a small town (5K pop.) lying beside the bend of the River Ourthe.  In fact, Astrid said the town had become too touristy from how she remembered it.  She didn't even want to stay.

 But the town's medival castle rises above, from the 9th century, and was worth the stop.
This town, too, suffered severe damage during WWII.

And so it was appropriate, again. to visit another roadside chapel,
the Chapelle Sainte Marguerite, from 1600, nearby the medieval castle.
Our Granny Towanda (car) was proud to stand in front of her.

And at that point, we drove the highways back home!
That means in upcoming posts I will backtrack to what we did the previous days.  To be continued....

10 comments:

  1. Love your weekend trips and thanks for sharing and educating us on all that Europe has to offer!

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    1. Thank you, Robin, for coming along for the ride!

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  2. The east of Belgium is just wonderful, I love the backroads and the small villages.
    To go back to Bastogne was impressive. I cannot remember the Mardasson Memorial. It is impressive and it represents thousands of killed soldiers, on both side. Even on Google Earth (Satellite View) it shows how big it is. Thank you for willing to drive with me, through this part of Belgium, I visited long ago.
    A wonderful post, which shows the beauty of it all.

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    1. I would not know most of these wonderful places if it weren't for you, MLMA, so THANK YOU. Life is such an adventure when the world opens up before your very eyes like this. We both are so very lucky!

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  3. I would think it's always worth visiting those old churches. Did you get to go inside? That great tower at St. Peters looks especially intriguing. What's in there?

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    1. All those churches, Ted, were ones we passed from one city to another, so, NO, we did not stop to even see if they were open. We simply didn't have time. BUT, if we lived closer, we would want to take day trips and see them all, like what we try to do here in Dutchland. I didn't know about St. Peter's Church until I was Googling for this post and realized it was an important church for Bastogne!

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  4. You had me at "backroads". :) Romantic and beautiful. How fortunate you are! I can't even imagine learning all that history right there. You know my study abroad trip in 1975 was following in Bennett's footsteps five years earlier, a history program with Gordon College. Dr. Franz taught us (both) about WWII. It was a fascinating 10-country run in 8 weeks. I'd love to live there and learn more.

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    1. I'm learning so much about the WWs, Ruth, through the European eyes. War movies are having new meaning for me now. The Band of Brothers, for instance, has come alive, as we visit some of the key battlefields. Even in our own city, Gorinchem, we have reminders every day when we see the cannons and war bunkers. (sigh) I know Mom would have a heyday here, with her love of history. I'm glad you and Bennett had your own smattering, to whet your appetite.

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  5. I don't know if this is the same grotto ... but this article is linked with Bastogne and I found it quite moving. How amazing to see these holy places (or so I believe them to be...) http://www.index1.com/bastogne.htm

    Oh, such wonderfully old places. I understand that tourists add a new element to what used to be a home-town, but I'm sure they bring in much needed money. Truly, this blog will one day help me narrow down all the places I want to see when John and I get to travel... but I fear we will need two months! sigh.

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    1. I found that same link, Margaret, and think the bottom center image in the very first collage at the top of this post may be one of the stations of the cross he's talking about...because it wasn't far away from the grotto. Most interesting!

      Most of these cities do not survive economically without the tourists, sad to say. Can't live with them; can't live without them. (sigh) Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could live in Europe for a year and travel all around to your hearts' delight. I could wish that for you both...and if we're still here, would love to show you a piece of Dutchland! :)

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