Sunday, November 15, 2009

Edjumacated

Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, Armistice Day... Call it what you like. Here, it's a holiday. As in, an actual day off work. (Well, I mean a day off work for people who actually do that sort of thing - work. For me, it meant I got to spend my Wednesday with Jason instead of a grainy, online version of last week's Project Runway episode of questionable origin.)

So after spending the morning on the sofa with cups of coffee in hand and various services and memorials on the tv, we decided to get out and go somewhere. I suggested Waterloo because it's only about fifteen minutes outside of Brussels and what better day to visit an historic battlefield?

And so it was decided. Of course the song by ABBA immediately wormed its way into my brain and took up residence and so help me I sang it all day long. Well, at least I sang the same line over and over. "Waterloo! Couldn't escape if I wanted to... Waterloo! Knowing my fate is to be with you..." Let it be known that Jason has the patience of Job.

First stop was for some lunch. And while perusing the drinks menu, Jason noticed that Waterloo has its own beer (Remember? Just like Mechelen and a host of other cities across Beergium.) And would you look at that? It comes with its very own little clay pottery cup! I am truly a sucker for details. Give me a drink with its own specialty vessel and I'm yours. (Kwak Kwak anyone?)

Next we hit up the museum in the Duke of Wellington's former headquarters. It was from here that he planned his strategy against Napoleon and eventually sent out the victory notice.

The museum held all sorts of interesting artifacts. The audio guide called my attention to this lovely old wooden leg that belonged to the man who died in the very room in which we were standing. Ew. (Also? So not fair that his leg was skinnier than mine.)

After the museum, we drove to the actual battlefield. The Lion Mound was constructed in the middle of it nine years after the battle to commemorate the 9,500+ lives lost on June 18, 1815. Unfortunately it was a very grey and misty day so not the best for purty pikshur takin'. But while we were waiting for the movie to start, I popped outside and played around with the camera settings to see what I could get. I kind of like this result (especially considering the environmental challenges). I even got a tiny, shortlived flash of blue sky as the clouds rolled along.

Just when I thought my legs had recovered from the 538 circular steps of St. Rumbold's Tower, here come 226 more. I was huffin' and puffin' like a chain-smoker by the time I got to the top. I really should consider adding a bit of serious cardio to my workout routine. (And by "workout routine", I mean "walking down the street for a pain au chocolat once a day".)

By this point in the day, it was getting rather chilly. In fact, when you add in the whipping wind that got worse and worse the closer we got to the top, we were freezing. And whipping wind + freezing good picture face.

I have to say, I learned quite a lot about the battle at Waterloo on this little excursion. I'm rather ashamed to say that, prior to this, I actually knew nothing about it other than the fact that it was considered Napoleon's epic fail. I didn't know it was a result of Napoleon going all power crazy. I didn't know it was the Duke of Wellington who defeated him. I didn't know that the Prussians worked with Wellington's British forces to stop him. I didn't even know what Prussia was. I really should have paid attention in Ms. Eskew's world history class.

In the interest of spacing out my entries a little, I'm writing this on Friday and am going to schedule it to post on Sunday - by which time, with any luck, we'll be enjoying the wonders of some little town in France or Germany or Netherlands or Luxembourg or maybe right here in Belgium. When you have the borders of no less than four countries on your doorstep, who knows what the weekend holds?

3 comments:

Jessi said...

:) Glad you're getting out there! I'm on my way back that way (Netherlands - Rotterdam) for a week of work....

Meg said...

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one out there that randomly breaks out into ABBA songs and can't stop for an entire day. My song of choice is usually "Dancing Queen," which drives the hubs up a wall :) At least you were able to enjoy a quick weekend trip! It looks like you had a great time as always. We, unfortunately, had to deal with copious amounts of water falling from the sky for the last week. Today the sun is finally out, thank goodness!

Hugs,
Meg

carrie said...

omg! i remember climbing those stairs in junior high (we lived at SHAPE, near mons). they were endless. the only thing to rival that, was the trek up to the citadel of dinant. anyway, the highlight of the field trip to waterloo was going to pizza hut. ;)