A short return to Brussels, more couchsurfing and the delightful Dinant


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Europe » Belgium » Namur Province » Dinant
September 11th 2015
Published: February 13th 2016
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Brussels

I returned back to Brussels with a tight itinerary planned as was only staying for the one night. Luckily the sunny weather continued as I enjoyed walking around the capital. I arrived in Brussels early to ensure I got to see as much as I could possibly fit in within one day.

I first stopped off at the Atomium, which was built for the 1958 World Fair. I did not know this before my visit, but discovered that this was Brussels most famous landmark structure. The Atomium was never intended to be a permanent structure but stayed after proving to be a very popular attraction. The Atomium has 9 spheres and each one is 60ft in diameter. The spheres are linked together with escalators and stairs, with 5 of the spheres containing exhibition rooms and the top one offering spectacular panoramic views of the capital.

Near to the Atomium is Mini Europe, this popular attraction has 300 miniature reconstructions of famous buildings that are in countries that form the European Union. The attraction is definitely worth a visit.

There is also Bruparck Village which has several bars and restuarants. I could not resist the temptation of sitting outside the restaurant facing the sun whilst eating waffles and having a cold drink.

I enjoyed a stroll around the European buildings before ending up in Parc du Cinquantenaire, this beautiful park was built to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Belgian independence. The park was busy with people sat on the grass, as they enjoyed the fine weather.

Couchsurfing

The next part of my trip I headed south of Belgium to a small town called Philippeville where Gwen offered me her couch to sleep on for the night. I love meeting new people from Couchsurfing as you learn valuable local knowledge and can share experiences of travelling. Gwen was really kind to me and looked after me well. I am sure Gwen will visit England someday and I can return the favour. Gwen lived with her friend Vincent and they have three lovely dogs called Archie, Chicco and Tacos. It seemed that Archie was particularly fond of me and I nearly adopted him as he was a rescue dog and didn't get along too well with Tacos.

Mons

Gwen knew I was interested in visiting Mons and kindly drove/picked me up from Charleroi train station so I could get a direct train to Mons. Gwen even helped me obtain a train ticket and ordered my lunch since English is hardly spoken in this region of Belgium.

The train journey between Charleroi and Mons was around 40 minutes. Once I arrived in Mons it was late afternoon and raining. I decided that I would just stroll around, luckily I had brought my waterproofs with me so adventuring out in the rain was not so bad.

I first stopped off at Collegiale Sainte-Waudru, a beautiful gothic church that is home to the golden cart known as 'Car d’Or ' which is carried in the city streets in a colourful procession once a year on Trinity Sunday.

I then visited the UNESCO Belfry, which is apparently the only baroque belfry still in existence, it was built around late 17th-century.

There is also a Grand Place which is paved entirely with cobblestones. However, it felt like it had no atmosphere, I guess the rain had put people off from sitting outside the restaurants. The town was busy though with lots of people visiting the popular high street shops.

Dinant

This small delightful town has one of the most beguiling and distinctive settings in Belgium, as it has the River Meuse that runs through it and clusters around a gothic church and fortress. I discovered that Dinant was the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the creator of the saxophone. Dinant takes pride in being the birthplace of Adolphe Sax and around the town there are many saxophone statues.

I first visited the gothic church which is called Church of our Lady, a 13th-century building which is stunning inside. I then visited the fortress which was constructed in 1051 by the Prince Bishop of Liège. The citadel proudly dominates the city. At the top of the fortress it offers stunning views of the town and River Meuse. Its possible to access the fortress by foot, climbing 408 steps, but I took the cable car instead.

There is also the museum of Leffe, a famous Belgian beer company. I did see the building but decided against a visit because I wanted to locate my hotel before it got dark and I wouldn't have been able to taste the beer samples since I was driving.

My hotel for the night was this beautiful castle now known as Chateu de la Poste which dates back to 1884 and offers stunning views of the forest and parkland. It was so peaceful as I enjoyed walking around the parkland and pond. The hotel was in the middle of nowhere and about 8 miles north of Dinant. It certainly was a great way to spend my last night in Belgium.


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