A 19-day adventure by Bevin
  • Day19

    Our Journey draws to a close

    October 22, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    NICE slow up and slow cappuccinos at terrace breakfast bar at Runnymede, followed by a meandering walk along the Thames to get some air before our 9 hour 50 minute plane ride home.

    We are stunned by our amazing good fortune for beautiful weather for 2 solid weeks!! One day of rain!

    I am delighted to have shared so many unique and fun times with Mike and Britt and just a few beer LOL. It is very precious to be able to travel with 2 adult children with very little angst or difficulty. All four of us will not forget these 2 weeks together.

    A Grand Journey full of new discoveries in one of our favourite parts of the world, Europe...England, a minute in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and a toe into Germany.
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  • Day18

    Cherished memories of Englefield Green

    October 21, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 7 °C

    A leisurely up and to breakfast in yet another fabulous breakfast room. A bit tight for time/concern for time so couldn't linger as we had the Euro Chunnel to catch at 12. A bit of Rain!! First of the trip!! R at the helm, made it out of Ghent easily and to the EC one 'train' ahead of schedule. Tried to find a spot to eat in Maidenstone but weren't successful "Ye Olde Thirsty Pig" didn't serve food and nothing else looked feasible.

    On the road again! Decided to "book it" to The Sun Pub in Englefield Green - oh my how the roads and Egham have changed!! But with me navigating and Mike at the helm we made it and had yummy sandwiches with crisps and Brit beer accompanied by memoirs of RDA - his fav pub in the world. Popped by Ashdown on way up Tite Hill - where three little boys spent 3 of their formative years - memories galore - smiling heartedly remembering!

    Checked into The Runnymede on the Thames...oh my.. the renovations are superb - wish we had more than one night here!! Decided to pack and sort the beer Mike had collected along the way, divy it up between all our suitcases - Rich even took his - the heavy one to the Spa to weigh it LOL - all good! Gave us the time to scoot to Tasis - "Sweet Mikey's" kindergarten plus school. What a shock!! The property was filled with so many more buildings/school rooms! dorms? The precious play areas and more gone.... sigh....change...didn't even recognize the route there - "you can never truly go back" but the memories still linger.
    Drove back through Englefield Green village - NICE! Memories flooded back, fish monger time, the pharmacy where Lady Di had been, our fav Indian restaurant....

    Back to the Runnymede for freshening up and off to the Fox and Hounds for oh no!! A BIG filling meal - I don't want to eat for a year!! Had their Thai Curry which was delish but so big! Fab Gin menu with pairing Feverwell Tonics - sublime! Decided not to do wines. Mike and Britt had great looking pheasant. We are full!! Nice to be packed and to bed at a pretty good hour.
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  • Day17

    Quelle surpris! Ghent!

    October 20, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    Loved being surprised! We'd chosen Ghent as a halfway point to stopover from Luxembourg to London. Just a beauty of a small city- full of stunning old buildings that made us want to stay longer and explore!! never mind the shopping we had no time for! A University town - good vibe - many many small cafes, restaurants, all strung along canals - well worth a return.

    However, bought some chocolate, Rich and Mike paused for a coffee while Britt and I poked through a few lovely shops...loved the tailors shop esp. from 1919 - stunning fabrics, scarves.. shop mistress was delightful, showing us a phenom scarf that was a print of shirts which you wouldn't know wearing it. Stopped for a beer before heading back for a snooze and freshen up after exploring the Medieval area for precious restaurants.

    Found the highly recommended Valentin's and made a reservation- only 5 tables! Precious owner/server whose husband was the chef. After our aperitif (I learned to put star anise in gin & T!) we all decided for the "Menu" - each had choice of 2 or 3 my 1st starter was smoked mozzarella with fresh toms, second was a homemade lemoncella, entre of sea bass to die for and oh the dessert!! 3 mini's - coffee drink in a wee jar, teeeny Creme caramel, and fresh strawberries in some sort of creme!! Didn't even feel stuffed at end! Just one bottle of a crisp Pinot Gris and we were comfy - beautifully paced meal - friendly owner who had all the time in the world for us - we closed the place :).

    Easier in and out of the old town area than Brugges or Brussels!!
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  • Day16

    Our Luxembourg Day!

    October 19, 2017 in Luxembourg ⋅ 🌧 11 °C

    Yet another lovely breakfast and off we headed to explore Luxembourg City.

    Actually drove right into a convenient Parking garage and headed off to amble around the walkway around the old city, looking down upon it. Mike in pursuit of a Brewery near the top end of the Old town. Again! Blessed with sunny warm skies!! Uncanny. Down, down and around to arrive at an area that could have been great fun in evenings. Stopped to try a beer at their brewery - was being decorated for Oktoberfest - was good as always. Strolled back, passing Microsoft and Amazon major offices. And Mikey found the Lift!! To take us back up to right beside our Carpark - all in the fun of exploring and adventure when travelling. Just a gorgeous area.

    Decided to take a drive through "the Switzerland of Luxembourg". I was expected more of Heidi like scenes - this was lovely however not the same. Very pretty though. Found a precious town ...and stopped for cappuccino- just ok but the town was pretty and looking up we saw another castle to explore! 'Twas cool with stairs going up and up - how did they manage to carry all the goods to such heights in those days?? Second castle of 7 in the area - cool history.

    Off again, now getting a tad hungry so stopped in another small town near the German border after popping across the border so Britt could step into her 4th country. Many places closed..hard to find parking but we did, I found Oliver a precious wee jacket at 1/2 price, found a bakery and sat in the sun munching yummy sandwiches followed by pastries!! Nice!!

    A rest in our sumptuous lovely rooms in our castle and all of a sudden it was time for our driver to take us to a Michelin one star restaurant. Quite the trick to find the place - Queyan C.....?? and upon arrival..all looked closed and dark. Our driver telephoned and out popped a person from the restaurant we were to be at - just next door - ohh to be there in the summer - the patio would be divine - all the tables set up exquisitely.

    Dinner - our reactions were that the meal and place the night before outshone the....., however, Britt's soup was fabulous... had a savoury ice cream in it - delightful. Our 'lamb' with couscous was 'surprising' - soooo much couscous! Waiters weren't too friendly with helping us understand the menu. My oysters while large were remarkable! Dessert.....

    And ohhh the ride 'home' to our Castle....15 minutes longer - we definitely went back into Belgium but still the driver cost came in the same and we were 'safe' and home in our Castle bedrooms and to sleep after yet another great adventure.
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  • Day15

    Rochefort then on to the Castle

    October 18, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    Wiggling and weaving we travelled from our wee town of Lompret to our castle in Luxembourg.

    First! A stop at our third Trappist beer town..Rochefort. There are 11 places in the world who make Trappist beer, 6 in Belgium and we have hit 3 of them! Such great beer - will be hard to settle with Canadian craft or even Brit beer. Fab lunch on a sunny patio yet again - loved this beer too! Shared amazing charcuterie plates - Mike and Britt with a flight of beer with matching abbey cheeses - cheeses will never taste the same again either!!

    Nice short stints between stops - Mike and Britt sharing driving and navigating with R and I - quiet rules evolved from the beginning LOL, those in the backseat stay mainly quiet while others are in charge LOL. It worked.

    And so we arrived at The Castle: Temps D'Or....as we stopped at the end of the 2 km drive, pausing to see how we entered, ...the wooden doors slowly opened and out stepped The Count himself...introducing himself as The Count of Ansembourg...and the beginning of enjoying listening to his tales of his background, his heritage, and indeed, his passion for his country and his past. A young 40 years old with 3 children - one his own - Alexander - named before he had read the first line of the "edict" of naming children in his family...oops...however the other Alexander he discovered had passed away and his father was quite ok with our Count using his name. Our Count was educated in Belgium, followed with studying in California (Harvard partner school) then worked in Holland as a strategic partner then formed 5 companies which he 'consulted' in within Luxembourg "if one failed then he could no longer have companies in Luxembourg". A strict upbringing and it sounded like he was doing the same with his Alexander - his other children were from his wife - older than he - 2 girls, one of University age. Alexander already (Iikely 8 -9) studied Russian 3 hours a week, another language and they spoke French to him. Interesting person to say the least, very gracious and keen to have us think well of The Castle.

    Strolled the grounds in such lovely weather...very funny to have him say "you didn't go as far as our other castle" making us realize the security cameras were everywhere which I teased him about. Nice to have witty exchanges. So curious about so much about his history - he spoke so highly of his father....sounded like he passed away relatively young and our Count completed the project he had begun in making the castle (where they live - just across a small bridge) into a successful luxury hotel.

    First luxury dinner!! At Aal Schoul....the chef won Top Chef in Luxembourg last year - second in Top Chef world wide and oh my.....the dinner was spectacular from the starting Amuse Bouche to every bite being a treasure to the dessert of a lemon shape, coloured white chocolate ball of yogurt/light filling that soothed the palette. Interesting that the server was so adept at being concerned about our Pinot Gris from smelling the cork and sure enough it was "corked" and on to a new bottle. The service was absolutely impeccable with careful, caring attention, English explanations as much as possible...a precious meal - to be remembered for a long time...complete with being entertained by well to do Europeans sitting at a table of 10 or 12 next to us...stories in my mind LOL
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  • Day14

    Mini village of Lompret.

    October 17, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Arrived in Chimay and as it was yet another sunny day, sat in the Grand Cafe and I had a fabulous salad full of all things regional! Britt even tried (and liked!!) the local eel! Burgers for the guys. Lovely people watching, the best being the "happy Belgian" couple next to us - Mike's pic tells all LOL - just talk to me if you have to.... Enjoyed yummy "table" beer Chimay - not avail in Canada - boo hoo.

    Drove by Abbaye de Norte Dame de Scourment and got as close to the source of Chimay Trappist beer as possible. Lovely Abbaye but very privee. Quick pic and on our way to “a way too commercialized” cafe that sold all things Chimay. Soon out of there.

    Then on our way to our B & B Hotel Franc Bois in Lompret. Nice owner with pooch Baloo, showed us our rooms - top floor of course with many stairs for M and B to drag our suitcases up to! Pleasant clean rooms - great breakfast next day - basic and a bit more as in all our stops. Every place we stayed in has stairs!! Jeakes House likely the steepest and narrowest. Off on a wee hike around the tiny village area - some dude climbing rock up and behind. Sat on church walls for a bit, just so enjoying the sun and air and Britt had fun clicking pics - so scenic an area.

    Dinner ..... hmm, so many places in Chimay closed on a Tuesday eve! Britt and I found L'Originale - looked great so off we went to find it. Construction every which way we turned so finally parked our car in the main square and walked - tripping along on cobblestones being repaired....found the restaurant, part of the old Chateau in years past - incredibly cool once we opened the door (looked very closed but ladies said ouverte so in we went) - a bit unnerving but down, down the stairs we went to a small restaurant - full on white linen and looked gorgeous but fully booked. Darn! Back to the Grand Cafe for pizza - huge, just fine - and we seemed to entertain the locals as we have done before. We were pleased to be in another area free of tourists, feeling that we were getting a true sense of Belgium and Belgians. Getting sort of a cool initial reaction, hesitant then a cautious warmth.

    Full tummies yet again and then back to comfy lodgings, looking forward to new adventures the next day....staying in a true castle!!
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  • Day14

    Friendly Belgians!

    October 17, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Great sleep then up and over to the Grande Place for breakfast. Had a wonderful waiter who had lived in Canada - said he would be “shedding a tear” after we left :). Fabulous breakfast- Mike had this amazing French dish (in pic).

    One more time hauling suitcases over cobbled stones (would never have done it without Mike!). Wiggled our way out of Brussels! Hurray! Last more complex town!

    Good drive to Chimay - had Chimay beer and Britt and I had yummy regional dishes - her’s was eel!! And she liked it! Mine a salad all full of yummy bits of cheese and pate etc.

    To the gorgeous Abbey de Sacramont and we were able to wander their grounds and go into their church- very peaceful and lovely.

    Drove to the commercial side of the Chimay beer which seemed a tad more commercial- things not beer like- than others. Didn’t stay long.

    Found our precious Hotel Franc Bois. UP 3 flights of stairs again! Poor Mike but he’s a trooper. Strolled the area on just a perfect day - very beautiful in this area of Belgium.
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