Saturday, May 05, 2012

Short break: Belgium

The quiet, the peace, nature... maybe you notice how lush and green it was? I am not the most talented gardener but I do know you need lots of water to keep all this green looking so fresh...
Let's say we noticed that.
Let's say we would have loved to go canoe-ing, it didn't seem like a good idea once we got there. Also we didn't get as much hiking done as we would have wanted to. We did see our share of ruins/fortified castles and visited a beautiful Cistercian monastery; l'Abbaye d'Orval.

Outside the grounds of the newly build abbey are the ruins of the medieval abbey, dating back to the first foundations in the 10th century. Amazing isn't it? Somehow the quiet had a serene quality, we wandered the grounds and found our way through the ruins of the old. Each of us picturing how in the old days monks were tending the place, building this up, how they would have walked down the hallways, their habits swishing... the bells timing their days in prayers.

There is a legend of the abbey's foundation, purporting to explain the name '"Orval" and the coat of arms. According to this, the widowed Mathilda of Tuscany was visiting the site, when she lost her wedding ring in a spring, to her great distress. When she prayed for the return of the ring, a trout appeared on the surface of the water with the ring in its mouth. She exclaimed "Truly this place is a Val d'Or (Golden Valley)", from which the name "Orval" is derived, and in gratitude made available the funds for the foundation of the monastery here. The abbey arms show the trout and ring. The spring still supplies water to the monastery and its brewery. (excerpt from Wikipedia)

The "new" monastery is ... grand.. I can't think of another word to describe it. Visitors are not allowed on the grounds so we could only peek through the gates. The monks however welcome guests who'd like to stay for a retrait. On the grounds are a brewery and a cheese factory, of course I would have loved to visit but both were not open for visitors.  Turns out one can visit the brewerey on the annual open house day. But the cheese factory? 
As the otherwise friendly lady said when I asked: Jamais Madame, jamais!! (Never madam, never!)
So... we bought beer. And cheese. Will report on them later. 

On our way to the campsite we visited the city of Dinant, to see the citadel. Afterwards we enjoyed the sun and walked through the city, along the river. Shops displayed the Dinant cookies, a seemingly (we didn't try) very hard cookie with excellent keeping qualities... Now that doesn't sound too appetizing does it?
Looks to me that this is the very pretty to look at Belgium version of hard tack maybe?


  1. Beautified Hard Tack! That's good.
    Sodding wet you say ... still it's pretty neat to have such places to visit for just a short break.

  2. wow..this place looks absolutely gorgeous..
    nice captures
    new to your space
    happy following you..:)
    do stop by mine sometime

    Tasty Appetite


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