Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2007 - Lier (clock tower), Westmalle, & Antwerp

So far in our visit to Belgium, our trips out of our home base in Brussels have been to the south or east.  On this day our son drove us north to the smaller, lovely Flemish city of Lier.  We then went even a little farther north to the Westmalle area where one of our very favorite beers is brewed by a Trappist monastery.  At the end of another fun and interesting day, we made a quick stop in the city of Antwerp. Without question, we will have to return later to spend a little more time exploring Antwerp.


On the walk toward the City Center, Peg crosses the street to look down an altogether charming canal.  

One of Lier's more noted attractions is the amazing clock of Lodewijk Zimmer housed in this 14th century tower.

Clock merchant and astronomer, Zimmer, presented this Jubilee Clock to the city in 1928.  It shows times on all continents as well as moon phases and tide times.

On the right side of the Zimmer tower the four seasons are depicted as phases of human life. The figures represent famous artists from Lier. Animation happens here on the hour.

Arriving at the city square, Peg & Patrick admire the guard lions and other carvings on the front of this building near the City Hall.

Keith stands in the parking area of the "Grote Market" or city square trying to photograph the City Hall. The lighting was not cooperative from this vantage point.

The Market square with the town hall & the Belfry from a better angle. The stately & ornate belfry dates from the mid 1300's - much older than this town hall which was constructed 400 years later.

Peg comes across St. Margaret's Church which is part of Lier's Beguinage. We understand that this baroque style church dates from the 17th century but was recently restored.

Patrick & Peg enjoy the quiet stroll down one of the very narrow streets of the Beguinage area.

Lier is noted as one of the famous "lace cities" of Belgium. Keith was struck by this beautiful "kitten" curtain as we walked along one of the back streets.

What a beautiful dead end street. This was as we approached another part of the 13th century "Beguinage" area of Lier.

We head farther north of Lier towards the Dutch boarder in search of the Trappist Abbey that makes our favorite beer. As the abbey's access is limited & light showers start, we opt instead for lunch at the  Café Trappisten Westmalle.  

While waiting for our meal we order Westmalle Dubbel for the non-drivers. A slight language misunderstanding results in 3 beautiful beers for the 3 of us. NO PROBLEM - Keith & Peg enjoy a little extra & driver Patrick later gets a great local juice drink.

Fantastic drinks & a great meal, & then it is time for some delightful Belgian deserts! Next we will go inside to purchase a couple of large bottles of beer to soon take to our beer drinking friends in Norway. 

With the aid of Patrick's trusty Garmin GPS, we take the back roads headed towards Antwerp. A fun stop along the way is at this canal lock stopping auto traffic but aiding 2 pleasure boats along the canal.

Keith gets a close up view of this canal-lock procedure that we would see repeated several times, in different ways, & with different size vessels, during our travels in Europe.

Not much time left in this day to tour much in Antwerp, but a drive through the city & along the waterfront brings us to the Steen Castle.

Reputed to be over 1000 years old, this famous castle sits on the edge of the busy Schelde River. It now houses the National Maritime Museum. 

Peg always enjoys climbing the circular stairways in castles - & this is no exception.

Many fascinating ship models, maritime artifacts & castle displays are housed here. Being a sucker for anything depicting a lion, both Patrick & Keith snapped a photo of this fellow.

Keith was particularly interested in this model display that clearly shows the old sailing ship repair process known a careening (laying a ship on its side). Reportedly this process was used in the rebuilding of the small sailing ship that brought Keith's ancestors from Norway.

Patrick & Keith check out the views of the River Schelde & waterfront from the walkway behind the castle.

Venturing around to the other side of the castle, we get this view back at this fascinating ancient building.

And right next to the castle is an expansive open-air display of many types of vessels. Running short of time, but we will return here another day [see 6 Oct. album] to inspect the many interesting well-preserved boats. [See album of all our Antwerp boat photos]

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