Tuesday, June 30, 2015

THE CHATEAU DU FOSTEAU CASTLE

June 30, 2015

Near Thuin at the top of a hill overlooking the surrounding meadows sits the Fosteau castle. This imposing fortress from the 14th century still has got its four towers. In this castle are some of the most beautiful Gothic rooms in Belgium. It is surrounded by a beautiful and sober park.

I visited this castle together with the Senior Group of Waterloo city which had organized this trip.

Unfortunatel the pictures are a bit dull, because it was very windy and rainy.





There was a beautiful park



The castle with the front tower on the left



and on the right



Through a big gate we arrived in the courtyard



the entrance to the castle itself



seen from one side





and the other



Years ago carriages were standing here, today a car



Going inside we arrived in this entrance hall.



In a huge Gothic room with an impressive open fire, we were greeted by his Lordship himself, who told us the story of the castle and its inhabitants.






We then visited the rooms on the second floor



In a showcase I saw two canon bullets stemming from the Waterloo battle in 1815, probably of French origin.



The castle also had its own pharmacy



and a beautiful view on the surrounding fields.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

THE RENOVATED HOUGOUMONT FARM

June 18, 2015

This fortified farm saw some bloody fighting. It was an advanced position which protected the allies' right flank. Napoleon attacked it on 18 June towards 11:30 am. What was originally intended as a diversionary tactic became the most violent point of the fighting. The French launched all-out assaults on it but to no avail. Napoleon lost.

The main building was burnt to the ground. Still standing there today is the farm.

One day before the official inauguration of the restored Hougoumont Farm for the bicentenary of the Waterloo battle I visited the farm.The farm had been neglected and almost fallen to ruins since years.

For this occasion some Royals and VIPs from the at the battle participating countries will be present, except the French President, who apparently is still angry that France has lost this so important battle only 200 years ago ! 




The commemorative plaque had been cleaned and is now legible











These pictures show the outside of the farm



 200 years ago the entrance of the farm




The way to the inside court is not perfect but far better, only certainly not meant for Royal high heels !



The inside looks fresh and welcoming



This chapel was amongst the buildings which caught fire. It was being used to shelter wounded soldiers. Many perished as they were unable to drag themselves out of the building. Now the ruin has been painted in white and looks very nice.



For the Royals and VIPs, stands have been erected inside the courtyard.



These will probably stand along the way



A huge tent is waiting for them !





200 years ago the same fields .....

On the fields besides the farm, the British troops have built up their bivouacs and a little further were the Germans and Dutch.




A glimpse around the bivouacs



and the soldiers around



They came and greeted the newcomers



and walked around near the Lion.

A short history resume is here

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

THE NEW SITE OF THE WATERLOO LION MOUND

June 16, 2015

The festivities for the bicentenary of the Waterloo battle will take place just in a couple of days. It starts on June 17, with the inauguration of the renovated Hougoumont Farm. For this event our King Philip has invited the representatives of all countries which had participated in the battle 200 years ago. There will be Charles and Camilla (for the UK) King Willem Alexander and his wife Maxima, the Duke of Luxembourg and his wife, the president of Germany and other VIP's. The only once who won't come are the French Government. They still haven't digested that they had lost the battle 200 years ago. Fortunately the French population thinks otherwise and lots of French tourists and French soldiers for the re-enactment of the battle will also be there.

I went to the Lion site to see if everything was finished since I had been there the last time. Amazingly it was ! Only a few details had still to be worked out.



Despite the big amount of tourists from all countries the Visitor center was closed ! The next day when I worked as volunteer in the Waterloo tourist office, I heard that now you have to buy tickets at the new museum, called the "Memorial". As I didn't know and all the others neither, we all went into the site of the Lion's mound and Panorma for free. It turned out that it wasn't for free at all but somebody had left the door open. I think they lost quite a lot of money this day ! That's a good start, hopefully the organization has no other glitches.



There was still a little hill as a rival just in front of the huge Lion hill. The new restaurant was finished too.



Poor Napoleon needs some fresh painting



The beautiful old restaurant with an eagle at the entry had been replaced by a new built



and the eagle now stands a little lost besides



The open fire, so it had been said, should look exactly the same as in the old restaurant. Unless I wore the wrong glasses it doesn't look similar at all.



And this is the new restaurant, not very cozy !



In front of the "Memorial" entrance stood these pictures of the different army leaders. They were so ugly that besides Wellington and a very handsome Napoleon, I didn't recognize anybody. Napoleon hasn't been handsome at all, he was short and fat.



The entrance to the Memorial which is an underground Museum



Lots of tourists had the same idea as me, to come before the crowd arrives. The terraces were full, even an angel was present.



I went inside to see the Lion, as they had forgotten to close the door and for once I could take pictures of his head. From outside usually you only get his bottom. The mound is 43 m (141 ft) in height and has a circumference of 520 m (1706 ft) and I walked all around.





A crowd of very brave tourists climbed up the 226 steps (or more) some of them had to give up and returned.


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

DISTILLERY OF BIERCEE

Most people know that Belgium is famous for its excellent beer, but what is less known is  that only  one hour outside Brussels — where busy streets are replaced with endless green fields, and the bumpy country roads are shared with tractors instead of shiny brand-name cars — is the Distillerie de Biercée, Belgium’s only fruit liquor distillery.

Founded in 1946 and still operating from the beautiful, fully restored historic farm "Ferme de la Cour", it isn't just a distillery, but it's also the home of a restaurant and museum. One of the top products produced here, ever since the founding day, is the lemon liquor Eau-de-Villée.

The beautiful architecture of the majestic 16th-century courtyard could well make Distillerie de Biercée worth a visit in itself, but the exciting part is still to come: experiencing how 10 kilograms of fresh fruit is transformed into one bottle of fruit liquor.



There is a huge variety of liquors from 17 to 46 % alcohol content out of raspberries, prunes, apples, William pears, lemons, hibiscus, and even celery ! You can see how 10 kilos of fresh fruit are turned into a bottle of brandy or liqueur!





View of the farm



with its well



and old distillery equipment in the courtyard



When you go inside you arrive into a hall  with a shop





and old distillery equipment



There is also a very nice restaurant with excellent food



The walls are decorated with enamel beer signs



The second floor has beautiful old beams exposed



In another part of the farm we arrived at the distillery itself and how it looks today. Here all the liquors are produced.



Then we went down into the caves were oak barrels with the different liquors are stored for at least one or two years until the drinks are ready to be sold.

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About Me

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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