16 July 2009, Thursday
Hi Little Girl,
Daddy’s standing in for mommy again today, which was our “around town” day: we drove around southern Belgium, close to the cottage, and visited a few little towns.
We started by visiting the so-called “smallest town in Belgium”, Durbuy. It’s a little hiccup of a shopping town in the middle of the Ardennes region surrounded by all sorts of X-TREME sporting sites offering river kayaking, mountain repelling, and cliffside ziplines, among other activities. At Durbuy, we strolled down narrow roads and watched vacationers in yellow kayaks (which you initially misidentified as “water bananas”) make their way down a nearby river. At one point, one poor soul fell out of his kayak, and grew increasingly irritated as his partner giddily paddled away. “What a booger!” you (correctly) observed.
After Durbuy, it was time for lunch, so we got back in the van and headed to La Rouche. It’s a scenic town that straddles the River Outhre that holds a rather sad place in history as the site of the WWII’s Battle of the Bulge, evidence of which still exists in the form of an abandoned tank and a monument to the Allied soldiers who eventually liberated it. Nowadays it’s another picturesque tourist center with winding roads filled with street-side cafes, high-end shoppes, and souvenir stores.
We worked our way up and down the streets until we were hungry, eventually stopping at a French-inspired pizzeria. You and daddy shared your own cheese and ham pizza at a little table, while the rest of us shared a different pizza that seemed primarily composed of salt… yuck!
After lunch, we split into two groups: Nana, Melanie, and mommy headed into the town to go shopping (but unfortunately found nothing! So sad!) while you and daddy decided to visit the ruins of a castle in the center of the city. There, you explored many different abandoned chambers, made clay sculptures using medieval tools, and watched a French bird show featuring hawks and vultures, before finally deciding that visiting castles was hard work. Your daddy agreed, and treated you both to more “lever-pressed” soft-serve, which is rapidly becoming a post-castle tradition.
When our two groups finally met up, it was a hot and bright 90 degrees out, so we ended our day in La Roche by letting you run through the town’s fountain with several other boys and girls. You were quickly and thoroughly soaked with water and joy before we finally got back in the van and headed home to the cottage.
That should have been the end of the day, but when we got back to the cottage, you realized that the small raised patio in the back yard looked just like a little stage, and so you spent the rest of the evening performing a one-(wo)man show for anyone who cared to watch. It included selections from Mama Mia! and Annie, as well as a selection of popular children’s tunes. In between performances, you would morph into either a restaurateur or a podiatrist, offering your audience (imaginary) ice cream sundaes and (painfully real) foot rubs while the star of the show (also you) changed costumes. Perhaps it’s the fresh country air out here, but your imagination has been in overdrive ever since we’ve been in Belgium. You are amazing!
Here are some more pics from today,
A charming little street,
Smiling for the camera (just too cute!),
Drinking your special drink (strawberry slushie),
You and Melanie at the river,
Walking up to the castle ruins,
Creating a clay toy at the castle,
Dancing in the castle,
You and daddy...
Good night, Miss DeVille. We’ll get your close-up tomorrow.
~~Daddy (and Mommy!)
18 hours ago