Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lovely Leuven

I did my homework. I bought Benelux weekend return tickets on sale, picked out a lovely hostel, and researched the "must-see" sites - all five of them. I was not deterred; every weekend does not need to be jammed-packed and we were due a relaxing one.

Unfortunately, the big "must-see" site was soon crossed off the list, as I learned the weekend we were visiting Leuven, the Stella Artois brewery was only giving tours in Dutch. No big deal, we still had one brewery, a church, a town hall, and a garden to peruse. Plus, it meant we could sleep in until 7am, hop on the train, and still be in the Leuven by 10am when the town would start to come to life.

After arriving in Leuven, we made our way to the tourist office to get a map and find out where the movie theaters were in town (our fail-safe cold night activity). We were greeted by a lovely lady, who was eager to show us all the wonderful things Leuven had to offer. She offered us a set of maps for a mere Euro that had two walking tours, a bonus detour, and 76 sites of interest. 76 sites! I had only found 5.

I happily handed over my Euro and we walked out the door to discover Leuven.

We started at #10, so we wouldn't have to back track and with 76 sites I was sure we could skip a few. We were promptly greeted with a wall of construction and no #10 (College of Liege) in sight. It's okay, we could walk right around the corner and visit #11-15. Except we walked right into another wall of construction. However, someone had kindly cut holes in the barriers to allow us to see through - to more construction.
Hey - wait. What's that? It that a bug stuck on an upside down needle? Why? More importantly, why isn't that on my tour?

We passed some "friendship" statues (#20-22) the men of a town erect on their 40th birthdays when they join the Jaartal, but before they are an Abraham, and came upon "the beautiful parks". Well, I am sure they are beautiful in the spring, summer, and fall when there might be a tinge of green somewhere on the hectare , but right now the most interesting thing was the levels of broken ice on the ponds.

I was starting to feel like I should have spent my Euro on a waffle.

After passing countless old building that in other towns would definitely have not made the walking tour, we reached a chapel for women with crying babies. Ummm...don't all babies cry?
More old buildings, more statues.

And then finally, the star of the show: The Great Beguiage. It seems every Flemish town has one of these - an old courtyard surrounded by buildings and a church that were reserved for the use of women of faith. This one happens to be the largest we have seen yet and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I wonder if that stops the rambunctious activities of today's inhabitants - the university students.

Having seen enough of the sites of Leuven, we abandoned the tour and went off in search of dinner.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

I hope yo enjoyed your dinner there more as the sights.