Wednesday, July 24th, 2009
We left this morning at 8:30 AM and are traveling to Belgium. This was definitely a day of riding on the bus!
We stopped at 10:15 AM for a rest stop and are still in France. On the bus, the movie The Longest Day was shown.
Around noon we stopped for lunch at a rest plaza then we were back on the road!
We left France and entered Belgium about 3:30 PM. We had a couple of traffic slow downs due to construction.
Catelyn, our tour director, shared some interesting facts about Belgium. A few that we remember were-
- 1,100 different beers made in Belgium with an 8-10 % alcohol content
- Belgium is known for its chocolate, Godiva is one of the makers in the country
- There are different types of Belgian waffles
- French fries can be traced back to Belgium. The American soldiers during WWI thought they were in France when they called these frites French fries because they were in the French speaking area of Belgium
- There are 3 official languages in Belgium: Flemish (Dutch), French, and German
- You can also hear Luxembourgish spoken in the Belgian province called Luxembourg (which borders the country of Luxembourg)
- Belgium is within the European Union so there is no border/passport control
Our first rest stop in Belgium and our first time to pay to use the toilet. It cost 70¢.
We arrived at our hotel around 6 PM. Our hotel is the Vayamundo Hotel and is located in the town of Houffalize, Belgium in the Ardennes forest.
We are staying here for 3 nights and our weather is to be even warmer tomorrow, a high of 105º. Also, no air conditioning or any fans. It was difficult to sleep.
The picture below is looking down on the town of Houffalize, Belgium.
Houffalize has been rebuilt since all of the Allied bombing during the Battle of the Bulge. It was important to the Allies to cut off the Germans getting supplies and fuel because the bridges here still remained. The pictures after the bombings show that there wasn’t much left of the town. 189 civilians from Houffalize were killed during the Allied bombing!
REFLECTIONS– As we traveled and explored the Normandy area, it amazed me how the French in this area have embraced what happened here and fly not only their flags but those of the Allies that helped to liberate them.
With this year being the 75th anniversary of D-Day, new memorials and memorial gardens, banners, etc… have been added.
It was quite moving to walk on the beaches the WWII soldiers were on and all the lives that were lost during the invasion and throughout the war.