Château de la Neuville in Tihange
To stay overnight in this palace was an unbelievable experience! We were just lying in our beds thinking "We are sleeping in a palace and it is so cool!"
Palaces, saxophones and elevators for boats among other things
The main goal for our visit to Belgium was to visit the town Baarle-Hertog
. We have already written about that part of the trip.
We had a few more days on our hands and decided to drive around and see what the rest of Belgium is like. If we are to give you a quick resume we can say that the rest of Belgium is very enjoyable and interesting and we will definitely go back again in the future for another road trip. We loved it! The only downside we can think of is the food. We had way too much french fries to eat these days.
There are many palaces in Belgium. We are not saying that there are more palaces per capita there then elsewhere, Stockholm for instance has plenty of palaces
, but only stating the fact that there are lots of palaces in Belgium. We were lucky enough to actually be able to stay in two of them while we were on this trip.
One night we stayed in a hotel located in an old palace in Melsbroek near Brussels Airport.
Château de Leignon
Château de Leignon in the Town Leignon
That hotel was good but it didn't feel like we were staying in a palace. They had restored the palace to an extent that the palace feeling was all gone. It felt more like a Disneyland or Las Vegas version of a palace.
We had better luck with another palace turned into a hotel. This was in a village called Tihange. If you wish to see photos of the palace don't bother to picture google it because all you will find is photos of a nuclear power plant. Tihange in a small place and there is a nuclear power plant there. For some reason google picture search engine believe nuclear plants are more interesting than palaces. However, well within sight of the power plant there is a palace that the owners has turned into a hotel. If you strictly see it as a hotel it wasn't a spectacular one. But if you see it as a palace where you can stay overnight the overall experience was unbelievable! It really looked and felt like a palace. We were just lying in the bed thinking "We are sleeping in a palace and it is so cool!". There was only one tiny
This palace houses a hotel. The hotel was good but it didn't feel like we were staying in a palace. It felt more like a Disneyland or Las Vegas version of a palace
little thing missing from the full fledged palace experience - we didn't meet the palace ghost. Had we, the experience would have been complete. We don't usually promote hotels or restaurants or other establishments. But sometimes, like now, we make exceptions. We only make exceptions when the hotel or restaurant in itself is an experience. Château de la Neuville in Tihange is not only worth to stay at if you are in the neighbourhood. It is worth a detour!
We had a few more palace experiences while we were in Belgium. We stopped at Castle of Vêves in the village Celles, we made a quick stop in Leignon and there we saw another palace, Château de Leignon and we also tried to see Miranda Castle that one also in the village Celles. The only one of these palaces that to any extent is open for visitors is Castle of Vêves. However, we didn't bother to go in because it wasn't that palace in Celles we wanted to visit. We went there to see Miranda Castle. Miranda Castle has been neglected for many years and is best described as a modern ruin. We have seen photos of it on the
Mechelen's claim to fame is the Cathedral, which is a very dominating feature in the city centre.
internet and had hopes of being able to see it. We were not the first ones who have been tried to visit Castle Miranda and when we came there it was obvious that they do not appreciate people trespassing. The gate was closed and there were signs on the back road saying that it was private area. Needless to say, we didn't bother to even try to have a look inside.
But totally unexpectedly we did actually see another modern ruin when we were in Celles. We found an old overgrown irrigation canal and a pump station. It looked pretty interesting being covered with moss and other vegetation.
We made a quick stop in the city Mechelen on our way from Brussels to Baarle Hertog/Baarle Nassau. We stopped there because it seemed like a nice place to make a break in the journey. There were a few things to see so we stopped to stretch our legs and get a very much needed cup of coffee.
Mechelen's claim to fame is the cathedral
, which is a very dominating feature in the city centre. It would have been even more dominating if they
Mechelen historical city centre
The well preserved historical city centre of Mechelen was also nice to walk around in for a while
had continued to build the cathedral's tower to its intended height. The tower, being today more than 90 meters high, is impressive but is still considerably lower than the 167 meters they original planned it to be.
The well preserved historical city centre of Mechelen was also nice to walk around in for a while. On the central square, Grote Markt, Mechelen has one feature that receives some attention - a statue of the city mascot Opsinjoorke. Opsinjoorke is a small man, looking a bit like a jester, who is thrown up in the air with the use of a blanket. When we visited Mechelen a school class were there and they, as a joke, threw up their own little mascot up in the air using a blanket. We have two mascots of our own with us when we are on the road. The school class happily threw them up in the air as well when we asked them to.
By the way, our mascots are called Emma and Jean-Claude and they actually had their own travelblog
for a while.
After Mechelen we moved on to Antwerp. There we made two stops. The
first was Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Museum
. It is a large park where there are hundreds of sculptures displayed. A very wide range of sculptures can be seen in the park both in age and in style. But most of them have very high quality. Even we, who have very little knowledge when it comes to art, understand that.
The second stop we made in Antwerp was at the Plantin-Moretus Museum
. The museum is located in the old workshops of the printing company Plantin Press. The collections in the museum has such value when it comes to visualising the printing business and early printing techniques that UNESCO has recognised it as a world heritage.
We felt that the museum was interesting enough for a visit but when we walked through it we realised that the experience would have been even better if we had had a special interest in and some knowledge about printing business. We simply weren't able to grasp the full greatness of the museum.
We made a brief stop in Liege because we wanted to see Montagne de Bueren
, a very long and dramatic staircase. When we read our guidebook we thought that Liege would
Portico in Mechelen
hold little else of interest for us. We were wrong there. Or perhaps we should say the guidebook was wrong there. Liege seemed to be a very pleasant place and is definitely worth more than the quick visit we made.
Making a longer visit in Liege will have to wait until another year. All we had time for now was seeing and climbing Montagne de Bueren. It is worth a visit unless you have some kind of phobia against staircases. If you make a list of 10 Staircases You Have To See Before You Die it is sure to be on it.
What other staircases could be on such a list by the way? Here comes a beginning of such a list
=> Montagne de Bueren
=> The staircase leading up to Philadelphia Museum of Art (aka Rocky Steps
=> Potemkin Stairs
=> Haiku Stairs
=> Chand Baori
=> The Exorcist Steps
, Washington DC
One of the good things about having your own vehicle instead of having to rely on public transport is that when you come to a place which looks interesting
A statue of the Mechelen city mascot Opsinjoorke
but wasn't in your original itinerary to visit you can easily change your plans and make a stop there too. That's what happened to us when we arrived in the town Dinant. We were planning on just driving through on our way to the next destination. When we got there we realized that Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone, was born in Dinant. We just had to make a quick stop for a few saxophone related photos.
We also made a quick stop in Waterloo merely to say that we've been there. None of us is particularly interested in neither Napoleon nor the Battle of Waterloo.
Something at least Ake is interested in is historical industrial monuments and the last place we visited on this trip was one of those - the UNESCO World Heritage listed mechanical lifts on Canal de Centre
. Instead of traditional locks they constructed beautifully designed lifts to raise the boats. They were absolutely wonderful to look at.
We hoped you liked reading about and see photos from Belgium. We surely enjoyed travelling there. We have learned that there is a lot more than Manneken Pis to see in Belgium, and
Tossing Emma and Jean-Claude in the air
When we visited Mechelen a school class were there and they threw up their own little mascot up in the air using a blanket. When we asked them to they happily threw our mascots, Emma and Jean-Claude, in the air as well
on this trip we have barely done more than scratched the surface of all there is to see there.
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