Belgium continues to be our family’s favorite place to go in Europe. I’m sure at some point we will branch out and explore somewhere else, but with Belgium waffles and chocolate practically in our backyard, we can’t resist it. This past weekend we decided we had enough of spending the rainy summer at home, so we packed up our bags and headed to Belgium.
We started at the Abbaye Notre Dame d’Orval in the Guame region. Hubby is a huge fan of Trappist beer, and these (Cistercian) monks brew the “Orval” beer, and make their own cheese and desserts. They are also one of the more “friendly” trappist brewers, in the sense that they have a museum dedicated to explaining how they make their beer, as well as a museum with religious artifacts. On the grounds are also the ruins of the old Cistercian ruins, which we were able to explore. We arrived early in the morning, and had the place to ourselves. It was wonderful to really be able to explore and allow the kids to take their time looking at everything without worrying that we were in someone’s way.
Mr Man exploring the ruins
When we were admiring the little shop where you can purchase Orval beer to take home, we even got to see one of the monks, who adored Miss Em and stopped to talk to her and pinch her chubby arms.
Really, How could anyone resist her??
From Orval, we traveled to Rochefort to stop by the L’abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy. This Abbey is not open to visits from the public, so we only stopped very briefly to look from a distance, before we headed into Rochefort. In town, we were able to get a stash of Rochefort Beer for my beer loving husband, as well as experience some of the best oven fired pizza from the nicest Italian couple.
THAT’S how you cook pizza!
The kids favorite part of the trip by far was the trip we made to nearby Han Sur Lesse, where we were able to explore a giant cave that had been carved into the hills by the river Lesse.
I have never in my life seen anything like this. The tour was conducted in French, German and Dutch, which actually worked out for our family because we had a really good excuse to stay back behind the crowd and slowly make our way through the caves. We walked for an hour and a half under the earth, and the boys were sure that we were never going to come out the other side. We were able to see giant stalagmites and stalagmites and even some crystals that had formed in the caves. Bug was thrilled to see that when we got to the lowest point, a river ran through the cave, and there was a massive, still lake under the ground.
After the caves, we enjoyed a French meal in town, where the kids got their first taste of escargot and fondue. Bug was a champ and asked for seconds of his snails. Mr. Man ate his first bite with no complaints, until Daddy told him WHAT he just ate. Then he cried, which was actually really funny, because not 10 seconds prior he was telling me how much he liked the escargot. Em even enjoyed the escargot. She pulled the first bite out of her mouth to inspect it, decided it wasn’t so bad, and went on to eat two more bites!
Inspecting her Escargot
“cooking” his bread
He liked it!
This trip summed up for me why we chose to homeschool while stationed in Europe. This weekend the kids got a taste of multiple cultures, experienced earth science in the most hands on way, and our family made memories that will last a lifetime.
This post is part of the TOS Review Crew blog cruise- See what the crew is doing for summer fun!