Week Twenty-nine

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This weekend we travelled to the town of Rochefort. Looks a long way on the map, but it only took an hour to get there (That is how small Belgium is! The white lines outline the countries)

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Where did that river go?
The town of Rochefort is known for The Han caves. The river Lesse is a tributary of the Meuse River (the main river that goes through the middle of Belgium and where the armies of Caesar and Hitler marched along). Near Rochefort, there is a giant limestone hill that the river simply disappears into. 200 years ago some explorers wanted to find out where the river went and stumbled upon 8km (almost 5 miles) of these massive caves that were created millions of years ago.

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To get to the caves you take a train from the city center, this was the highlight of the trip for Zane.

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The tour through the cave lasted almost two hours, instead of the one hour they advertised. Zane found the cave “scary” and whined his way through most of it asking if every turn was the end. I am sure our tour mates were sick of hearing, “I wanna to get outta here.” Lily liked looking at all the crystals, ‘stagtites and slagmites’. Zane liked looking at my iphone.

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The Lesse River runs throughout the cave creating beautiful reflection pools.

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*brochure picture
I couldn’t take any pictures of the huge cave halls because I left my good camera in the car. My little point and shoot doesn’t have a large enough aperture to capture the vastness of the cathedral sized halls and flash photography is not allowed.

At the end of the tour they have a music and light show inside the cave. Cool for kids who don’t have sensory issues. Zane had his face buried in my lap, hands over his ears and shaking from head to toe. I felt helpless because all I could do was just rub his back while he shook in complete fear. It wasn’t as bad as the Fourth-of-July-Fireworks-Breakdown-Spectacular-of-2010 though (no vomit or wet pants). So maybe it’s getting better.

At the end of the tour you stand at the exit of the cave while the tour guide warns you about something. My french had held up nicely for about half of the tour, during the second half (since we were running so far behind) the tour guide’s french sped up to one past rapid and I was totally lost. All I heard was, are you ready? and everyone answered back, OUI! (I answered huh?). Then BOOOOOM! They shot an air cannon off inside of the cave to show the cave’s acoustic properties. That’ll wake you up!!

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Outside of the cave exit is a huge playground area and mini farm. All was well in Zane’s world again.

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What I liked about this petting zoo is that it was the animal’s choice to interact. There is a fence between the people and the animals so they can just come up, get petted or fed and then go off to themselves if they need to. Much better than the standard format of animals getting accosted by sticky fingered, hoof steppin’, back slappin’ kids.
Lily loved collecting flowers for the goats and long grass for the horses.

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Zane sang ‘Spiderman, Spiderman…does whatever a spider can’, the whole time he climbed this thing, quite cute.

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The town of Rochefort is also known for having a Trappist Brewery (remember one of the six in Belgium? See week Twenty-six). The monks of the Abbaye of Notre Dame Saint Remy brew Trappistes Rochefort. EASILY the best tasting we have tried thus far. I wish I could ship a bottle to each of you.

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We finished out our time in Rochefort by stopping by the actual Abbey where the beer is made and the monks live. Those guys have quite some beautiful scenery. I walked up to the abbey and ran into 3 monks (this is not the start of a joke). I asked them in French “Where can I find a shop or something to buy some Rochefort….” and the middle one finished my sentence with “beer? you can’t buy beer here”. I said, “no, no I just want to buy the glasses” (remember each beer has it’s own glass). He said, “oh, sorry, most everyone comes here looking for a bar”. He gave me directions into town but after some chit chat about various things, my American Southern charm worked some magic and one of the monks said, wait here. He ran inside and brought me back a glass as a gift. awwwww.

Despite Zane’s fear of the scary caves, endless whining and pulling my arm out of socket, it still was a fun trip. I think they really did enjoy the caves.

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Oh, and Zane had to go potty on our drive home through forest, hills and fields. So, this was a first. Have to document all the firsts ya know.

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8 Responses to Week Twenty-nine

  1. tjebran35 says:

    As usual, I love the blog. Thanks for keeping us up to date with your escapades … Has Jason lost weight? He looks thinner. The children are so bright and beautiful, and growing up so fast. Love to all.

  2. Karen says:

    Love the pictures and the adventure! The children are having the adventure of a lifetime! It’s awesome the way you make every adventure a learning experience… thank you for sharing!

  3. Inge van Coppenolle says:

    So you found my favorite trapistenbeer 😉 funny story about the cave, should have thought about the i-phone first time we took Louis into a cave. He too was not amused by what we thought would be very cool. By the way, we just landed in Belgium and visited a nice kids place called Puyenbroeck where they have about 5 different playgrounds, a petting zoo, bikes (incl. with child seats) and other kid friendly stuff. Unfortunately their website isn’t all that great but just in case :http://www.oost-vlaanderen.be/public/cultuur_vrijetijd/domeinen/puyenbroeck/index.cfm

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