Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Relaxing in Belgium.... ;)

Oct. 25th Tuesday

Dear Family & Friends,

We left Strasbourg and rode a couple of hours to a very small town of Dietrich.  Basically it was a stop over on our way to Belgium.. As a bonus one block from our hotel was the Luxembourg National Automobile museum! So we spent a good 45 minutes there and saw everything twice..
Wednesday morning we were off to Ulbeek, Belgium.. We were in a remote part of Belgium so there were no major roads, just twisty two lane roads wandering through the country side and small villages. Great motorcycling roads! The first hour we rode through incredibly thick fog.. At times you could hardly see 20 yds. I rode slow with my flashers on and enjoyed the challenge. After about an hour Duane had enough of the slow going and took off  on his own. He was sure there was a faster road there and that he would get there faster.. (He arrived about an hour after me). I continued on by myself and enjoyably the fog lifted and I had a wonderful ride through the country side enjoying the sites and some great motorcycling. I even had time to stop for a great Belgium lunch…
I followed my GPS to Bonnie’s friends house in Ulbeek, Belgium. Wow was it in a remote village.. I was thankful my GPS was accurate because this time because it was a really remote village and I could have never found it with a regular map.
Bonnie knows this Belgium couple because the wife is a mosaic artist and Bonnie met her when she attended one of her art classes.  I met them when they were consulate general to the USA and lived in LA. They are very nice people.
Their home where we are staying is spectacular. It is part of a very large brick building that was a beer brewery built in the 1800s.. (Relatively new by European standards). 
Our first night Bonnie and her friend Mierille cooked us a delicious traditional Belgium dinner including leg of wild Boar. 
The next day we had planned to tour Brussels but a conflict of schedules and our host could not get away. Really it was no problem. The weather had turned rainy and colder and Duane and I were both tired so a day or two of rest would be welcome. We did walk down the road to an local gentleman named Raymond who had an amazing collection of WWII military vehicles. He is a local farmer who is 80 years old and still very active. When he greeted us he reached out to shake my hands and I immediately noticed he had the biggest pair hands I have ever seen on a man,,,,, maybe he should run for president?
He spoke only a few words of English but his enthusiasm was boundless and some how he communicated to us much of the history of the area and of all the vehicles he had. 
One of the best stories was when he was a child and living in this area every day was a battle. He would see tanks storming by, air planes flying in formation and occasionally battles. One day he saw a German plane shot down. He showed us the every spot. When he grew up he went back there with a back hoe and dug up the engine and propeller from the plane which he still has today and is part of his collection.. A very interesting man. See my blog for lots of photos.
That evening we all went out for dinner . They took us to a Belgium steak house. Bonnie and I ordered a steak dinner for two.. It is the FIRST time in my life I could not finish a steak dinner. The portions of everything were massive and tasted wonderful! It was a welcome break from all the pasta we had been eating in Italy. With my fill of steak and wine I slept well that night.
Tuesday was another cold rainy day so we hung out and did a bit of laundry. The village we are staying in has about 700 people. In the morning Bonnie and I walked down the road to the local liquor store to get some wine for tonight's meal… The store was in a warehouse about the size of a small COSTCO.. Tells you what the favorite past time is here …
When we returned to the house a few minutes later there was a knock at the front door. When we opened the door there was Raymond with WWII jeep. He wanted to take Duane and I out for a ride so of course we jumped at the chance. The jeep started and ran like new and we started going down back lanes and across fields and Raymond gave us a history lesson of the area. He would point at every field and there he tell us about a bomber that crashed there, over there was a fighter base, here was an army camp, there was a battle.. wow he must have had an exciting childhood basically growing up in the middle of a battle field.
So now I will finish up this report. Tonight we have another home cooked Belgium meal and tomorrow Duane and I are off the Bruges for a day of site seeing. The following day it will be a short ride to Dunkirk where we catch the ferry back to England and we ride back to my friends house in London. That will end our 6000 mile journey. I am sure I will get one or two more reports in there since we have a few exciting activities left.

Here are some photos from the Luxembourg National Automobile Museum..

A series C Vincent Black Shadow, probably the most valuable machine there. I wonder how it got there.

Models of famous race car drivers.

It appears urinating on buildings is a big problem in Luxembourg, these signs were all over town.

The Mosaic Studio of Bonnie's friend Merielle, in Belgium.
Raymond and his collection.

The motor Raymond dug up from when he saw the German plane crash in his field as a child..

Duane protecting the front line..

This was a loft built by the American army as a look out. You can still see a tattered American flag in the branches.. What history must have happened here.

A traditional Belgium dinner being prepared..

Here are some photos of the village and surrounding area we are staying in. Ulbeek,Belgium.

Bonnie and her friend Merielle.

Some of Merielle's work on display at a local art school.

A few months ago a very strong and rate tornado hit the area and literally pulled about half the trees in the area right out of the ground.. Sad to lose so many beautiful trees.

Nice estate..

This mansion was built by a very rich local man. Today I could buy it for about what my house is worth in SLO. You get a lot more for you money here, but the weather....

A local beer hall.

When you see a cow in the entry way of the restaurant you know it is steak time!

The table next to us ordered a FLAMING desert of some kind..

My new friend..
Getting ready for the last let of our trip..

Raymond and Duane hoping into the jeep for an afternoon of exploring.

Roads?? We don't need no stinking roads.!!!

Now the four wheel drive starts to come into action as we went down these muddy lanes.

We would have stuck in the middle of no where with the traction of the vehicle.

It is nice to be in a part of the world where they have abundant water...

Where our friends in Belgium live. It is a remodeled 19th century brewery. Part they made into their home and part into Merielle's Mosaic school.

Part of Raymond's collection, a German V2 rocket that landed in his village during WWII.

A typical Belgium style home.

A beer bottle collection from the old brewery that used to be in Ulbeek. This one is for you, Hamp!! :)

The local beer garden.