May 31, 2013

The Four Castles Tour (Part 3)

Sorry, we are a bit behind on our postings... life came in the way. We collected our next badge at the marvelous Dyck castle.

(D) Dyck Castle. Landscaper's Paradise!
Founded it the 11th century the property stayed in the family Salm-Reifferscheidt-Dyck for 900 years until it was turned into a foundation in 1999.
The castle is located in the low lands, hence naturally moats were the the means of protection against invasion and conquest.
We admit, this is the most beautiful piece of historic architecture we have seen so far, and thanks to its foundation it is well maintained.
The other beauty of the place are the tamed nature that surrounds the castle. One of the family's (female) ancestors was a passionate gardener. She imported a lot of foreign plant life, that thrived in this mild micro climate, and composed and designed the gardens.
Naturally waterfowl has settled in, and enjoys the gardens as well.
The gardens smelled beautiful, but surely require a lot of work.
Again, thinking of Martha. She would probably move in immediately, and never look back.

... to be continued ...

The Four Castles Tour (Part 2)

(C) Monschau. Unchained History!
Embedded in a valley in the North Eifel, a row mountain range close to Belgium, lies the town of Monschau with its castle resting on top of a hill.
The market place.
 Half-timbered houses are very common in this part of Germany.
 The river Rur flows through the city core.
 Also slate covered houses are quite common.
 A different view.
We spend an hour walking around in the valley, eating Belgian waffles (well, Roland did...) and enjoying the scenery.
Then we hiked uphills to visit the castle that is a youth hostel today. It wasn't easy to climb up the steep cobble stone lanes.
 But we made it!
 And got rewarded with a marvelous view on the town.

Traditional bread: Some dark rye bread spotted for Martha. The smell of the local bakery was very tempting but we resisted!
Another trivia: The Eifel is also known as a motorcycle paradise, with a promise of lots of twisties through the national park.

... to be continued ...

The Four Castles Tour (Part 1)

We are on the road again. Goin' places that we've never been. Seein' things that we may never see again. We can't wait to get on the road again. (Willie Nelson)
Thursday was another holiday, Friday, of course is a day off for many, too - we call such phenomenon 'bridge day', and once again we won't be able to run errands. On the plus side we had a dry spell with up to 16C (61F). So we saddled our 200 or so ponies to collect 'castle badges' on a 300km round-trip.

(B) Satzvey Castle. Let's get medieval! 
The moated castle was built in the 14th century on foundations from the 12th century. Today it is rather famous for seasonal knights tournaments, medieval fairs, Halloween parties and a Christmas market.
Promo Video:
The owners still live on the premises, and so it has been in the family for the last 300+ years. Tourists are free to roam around except for the areas that are asking for privacy.

Don't drink and fly!

... to be continued ...

May 29, 2013

The Windmills, the Ocean and the Plains

The Belgian coast around Brugge is a concrete desert as the screen grab from Google street view demonstrates: Here shown is Blankenberge "beach"...
Hence we jumped the border. A line shown on the GPS and some road signs will tell you that you have arrived in Holland.
The Netherlands. The country is flat, hence all the bicycles. It is famous for cheese, tulips, legal soft drugs sold in coffee shops, windmills and clomps (wooden shoes). Half of the country will likely be under water when global warming makes further progress. And their national football team plays in orange jerseys (I guess Martha knows the latter trivia already.).

When we talk about windmills, we don't mean these, although this kind seems to grow and prosper lately.
 We are of course talking about these!
 Yep, the land is mighty flat.
 But pretty nevertheless.
The hotels in Cadzand-Bad look a bit different, and the beach isn't (yet) paved over.
The North Sea.
The flying pig enjoys the breeze, and so does Sonja (Note: The pig is the one with the wings...).
It's windy and cold. And yes, those pictures have been taken end of May 2013, not November last year.
 Sheltered by the poles we enjoy the sun (that is until our butts got wet in the sand).
 Abandoned strand huts.
 Scooter by the sea.
 Roland enjoys een kopje koffie, sheltered from the wind.
 Steak for the man, and salad for the lady, please.
There is nothing better to clear your head than a walk on the beach, listening to the sound of the waves crashing, breathing the salty air, and getting sand blown in your face (ok, maybe not the latter...).
Way too soon we had to say goodbye to the ocean and head back to good ole Germany. After one final border crossing to re-enter our homeland, we hit the highway at maximum warp speed...
However, we found a little paradise in Cadzand, and it is merely three hours away. We will be back.