Yesterday was not our very best day… it started with rain, not a torrential downpour but cold and constant for the first 20 miles of the route. We just put our heads down and followed the cues.
We arrived at the Chateau de Beloeil in time for our noon tour. Regretfully, the chateau was not all nice and warm as we would have liked, but it was interesting to hear about the de Ligne family, who still have a Prince and Princess (some of our group met and spoke with the Prince after our visit). At 1 pm we retired to the chateau’s dining hall for a nice warm meal, four courses, though soup might have been preferred. At least the rain stopped and some of our clothes had dried out.
Our route to Mons was mostly along a canal….though we encountered bridge construction and had to wander through the construction site to get back on the route. Don’s and my wandering took us farther afield and with difficulties negotiating into the city, we didn’t arrive at the Hotel Dream until after 5 pm. The hotel was once a church; many of the rooms have arches left from the church interior, ours has 6 stairs down from the bathroom to the bedroom area (see photos later). After finding a close-by laundry, we ended up with salads, a sandwich and rose wine from the local mini-mart for dinner. 46 miles
We slept in this morning, then realized that the loop ride today included a tour at the site of the Grand-Hornu, a colliery built between 1810 and 1830 by Henri De Gorge. In addition to mechanical workshops, he built houses for the workers and included a health care and child education system. The facility has since been restored and includes offices, a museum and several exhibition areas. Rather than continue the planned 25 mile loop, we reversed our route and stopped at the Van Gogh house on the way back into town. Van Gogh lived in the area for a little over a year while he was serving as a minister to the coal miners before deciding to dedicate his life to art.
Back in town, we looked into the huge Gothic church, Collegiate Saint-Waudru, then walked past the Belfroi, the Grand-Place, and the Hotel de Ville, before returning to our hotel.
Dinner tonight was a group four course, three wine meal in the hotel – outstanding! (see photos)
As the dinner ran quite long, photos will be reserved for tomorrow…