25 September 2010

Cubist Masters: Bouillon

We made a long train-and-bus journey from Brussels the other day, ending up in Bouillon (like the cube!), a small town in the south-western corner of Belgium. The region is the Ardennes, the temperature is pre-autumn chill, the smell in the air is woodsmoke. This is the view from the top of the castle tower, looking down on the town (to the right) and the Liege road (to the left). The castle commands this amazing bend in the river Semoise. You can see water on either side.
After a hard rain (and an amazing dinner) last night, we woke up to a beautiful morning. We saw our breath in the air for the first time this trip. The town was quiet and the air was very still.
I think it's amazing how this "tabac" seems to specialize in bulk containers. Those are all tobacco tins.
The town has only about 2,500 people, but it seems to be set up to accommodate a lot of tourists. There aren't many here at this time of year and we have actually spent an entire day without hearing English once.
Rebecca ordered some "vin chaude," at lunch, and said it was delicious. It started to rain while we were eating, and the warm food (mushroom crepes) and drink was very comforting.
This is the castle, which we spent the afternoon exploring. It was pretty amazing - one of the most fortified places I've ever seen, and we spent an interesting couple hours poking around.
This is part of the "Spectacle de Fauconnerie" which wasn't exactly entertaining, but was really essential to our castle experience. Two falconers made a number of birds do "tricks." Mostly, they just implored the birds to fly to their hands. Sometimes the birds listened, sometimes they didn't. The falconers also threw chunks of meat on the ground and the birds would hop over and eat them.

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