Monday, Sep. 10, 2007 - Tongeren in the rain & castle search

On a rainy day we drive east of Brussels to the town of Tongeren which is reputed to be the oldest town in Belgium. We understand it was founded by the Romans around the year 15 BC. Rain & construction projects hamper our visit & greatly curtail picture taking this day. After the city visit, our plan was to wander back westward through the areas of Borgloon & Sint-Truiden in search of some of the area's castles -- some successes, but also a pleasant day driving the back roads of eastern Belgium.


As we near Tongeren, this friendly gargoyle grabs our attention as we drive by some village church. 

Arriving Tongeren in the midst of showers & the remains of the weekend festival, we find the statue of Ambiorix (who reportedly withstood Julius Caesar's legions) guarding the front of the Basilica of Our Lady. 

As this grand old church was undergoing restoration (with related archeological work), both inside & out, we could see very little of the treasures of this site. 

Patrick & Peg inspect some of carvings & sculptures in the cloister corridors behind the basilica. 

While Keith watched local school groups enjoy some of the remaining carnival rides, Peg & Patrick get ready to place an order for some appelbeignets.

Recommended by Patrick as another "must try" Belgium treat, these deep-fried-in-beer-batter apple rings are sometimes called "Dutch apple fritters."  Very tasty indeed!

With a slight break in the rain, Peg & Keith decide to walk down to the  beguinage area where Patrick would meet us with the car.

A charming area with moat remnants & happy waterfowl, BUT all the roads are blocked by carnival remnants.  

No Patrick & more rain, but Peg is still in good spirits in this picturesque setting.

The ducks & swans continue to enjoy the dampness, while Patrick bends some traffic rules to reestablish contact.

Then it is off to spend a little time wandering though these old buildings

Crews work on removing some large graffiti on one of the guard towers and we duck in to a local pub for some warming espresso.

This appeared to be rich agricultural land.  There were many fruit orchards and deep green fields such as this -- with is resident estate (castle?) nestled in the woods off the road.

Here is a panorama view sweeping over the rich, bird covered farm field more to the right of the estate center (this was a little north or northwest of Tongeren).

At Gors-Opleeuw we find this this mansion on spacious grounds. It is called Kasteel van Gors and, as true peasants, we stay outside the gates & duck out of the rain in to a bus stop shelter for a tasty Belgian snack lunch.

Taverne Konak  in Borgloon was our stop for a mid afternoon sampling of a local beer (for non-drivers).  We chanced to meet a young bartender who had spend a year in the states, so we enjoyed his take on life in the two places.

Kasteel (castle) Mariagaarde Hoepertingen.  Kirk had a book listing castles in the area.  With the aid of his GPS and the guide book, it only took a couple of wrong turns to get lost and find this gem.

Inside this historic castle we find it also has an ornamental garden and pond in a park like setting in the rear with spacious lawns near the entryway. 

This fall display from their gardens remind us that, yes, we are in rich historical farmland in the harvest time of the year.

We find that also inside is what appears to be a school &/or some sort of other community center of activities, but we take advantage of the break in the rain to catch these outside photos before returning to the car & journey back to Brussels.

We often saw large billboards like this with the name "sloggi." We wondered if they were selling motor scooters, young ladies or underwear.   We learn later via the Internet that these are advertisements for "pure bodywear" or exhibitionistic underwear for the young or trying to be young...?

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