Monday, December 29, 2014

Reading between the lines

Hello mes ami(e)s, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are looking forward to the new year. I spent Christmas in Luxembourg with Jules's family. They do a family dinner on the 24th, with present exchange (this continued in bits and pieces through the night, between courses and so on). I think my presents were well-received, phew, and I got some nice ones too. On the 25th, they hosted dinner again with the extended family - aunt, uncle, three cousins and their girlfriends. This one was a bit more trying. Everyone is very nice, but it's hard to sit there for five hours while people speak a language you don't understand and (mostly) ignore you.

We came back to Brussels on the 26th, to give the cat some pats and fresh water. On the 27th, it snowed for the first time this winter.

Excited for snow!
On the way to the supermarket Jules got a warning light on his car and drove to a nearby dealership where they told him the garage was shut and he should call for roadside assistance. Informed that it would take some time, we took refuge from the snow and ice in a Greek restaurant that actually turned out to be pretty good. We were worried that Jules might be called away from his yummy beef, orzo and feta stew (youvetsi) (I had cod and squid ink risotto), but two hours later we decided to just give up and drive to the supermarket so he could top up with coolant himself. Upon which the roadside assistance guy called to say he was there and couldn't find us, obviously. But what could have been a major miserable pain in the arse if we'd just sat there waiting in the car turned out to be a lovely lunch, so we weren't too bothered :)

The 28th promised to be (below-)freezing cold but sunny all over Belgium, so we decided to drive into the countryside to see the Reading Between the Lines church/art installation I featured in my Buzzfeed list of Europe's most beautiful churches. It was pretty hard to find; we had an address from the internet but that just took us into the vicinity (eventually, after two false starts due to closed roads) and we looped around a few times before some locals actually reversed their car to give us unsolicited directions. I knew it was in the middle of a field, but thought you'd be able to see it from the road. Turns out you have to park (for reference, I think we parked on Sint-Truidersteenweg near Grootloonstraat in Borgloon, but you can also come to it from the other side) and then walk a bit on a path, and it's actually really quite small. But beautiful, and we managed to stay there for at least half an hour or so by ourselves, since people conveniently left just as we got there and arrived just as we were leaving. We were hoping there would be plenty of snow on the ground, but although it rested around Brussels, there was only a little bit on the ground here. But it was still a lovely landscape, and I think the bright blue sky definitely showed it at its best.

Driving - yes, driving - in the woods near Borglon
Slightly snowy fields on the way to the church
First sight of the church melting into the landscape. In general, it looked more transparent from further away, and more solid close-up

Who needs a selfie stick when you can do the old "self-timer on a fencepost" trick?


Really inside

We tried a few jumping pictures, mainly realising the truth behind "white men can't jump". *Nice up-to-date reference to a movie I haven't seen and don't know what it's about other than presumably basketball and the travails of "reverse racism"

Let me out!

Really see-through from this side

I know, I know, I took too many photos

It's modelled after the traditional village church in the background

After I'd finally taken enough photos from every conceivable angle, we drove to nearby Tongeren for lunch. We missed the weekly antiques market, but had a nice lunch sitting outside in the sunshine (near a space heater), visited the pretty basilica and climbed to the top of the one remaining medieval gate. It seems like a nice place - there's also a large beguinage and a Gallo-Roman museum to visit, but we didn't have time because we wanted to get back to Brussels at a reasonable time so Jules could relax and have dinner before driving back to Luxembourg.

Statue of Ambiorix and the Tongeren basilica

View of Tongeren from on top of the medieval gate tower

There you go, fun thing to do in Belgium #5. Happy New Year and see you in 2015!


  1. It's hard to sit through such a long meal when understanding the language, so I can't even imagine how you managed it. I hate sitting so long, and because everything is so drawn out, I already feel full before even the main course.

    And that looks like such a cool exhibit! We'll have to check it out!

    Happy New Year!


    1. Unfortunately On the wrong side for you,
      But if you ever have a reason to be in the neighbourhood, it's definitely worth a look

  2. I'm jealous you got snow! We seem to have spent the past few days in places that were surrounded by areas where it was snowing, without actually seeing any of it falling ourselves.

    1. I love watching it fall, it reminds me of when I lived in Chamonix with no TV or Internet (the horrors) and would just sit and watch snow fall on the main square below my apartment... I wouldn't last five minutes living there now haha

  3. Those photos are amazing!

    Youvetsi sounds sooo yummy.

    Glad your presents were appreciated-- always a feat.

    1. Thank you! I was
      How well the beef and feta worked together, I would never have thought

  4. How is it done - is it mirrors, or glass panels or ????

  5. You almost seemed to disappear yourselves!


Feed the Comment Monster! Rawrrrr