The 16th of April was another chilly but fine enough day which I don’t mind. I can always layer up against the cold but I didn’t have any proper wet weather gear so that would have proved a problem.
The dawn thankfully did not plague me with an early rise due to my sleep disorder and my somewhat erratic body clock did not bother me until well after midday so it was just as well I was not checking out of the hotel or it would possibly have cost me a late check out fee. Having said that, they had been so good about my delayed check in they maybe wouldn’t have charged me, they were decent people.
Another walk round what little there was to see in town and I did find a couple of interesting little things. Firstly, the town seems to be very “green” as I found out at the local filling station where the display shown above suggests that 95% of all the hot water in the area is heated by solar power. Nice move, folks.
Secondly, I discovered that the Hotel Iris Aubepine that I was staying in was not the original as I found it situated just next door. I do not know if anything is planned for it but it looks like it could be done up into a very tasty “boutique hotel” as I believe they call them nowadays.
Eventually the inevitable happened and I settled myself into the very pleasant Taverne Le Beaulieu for a day of trying to keep this blog / journal or whatever the heck the correct term is up and, much more importantly, drinking a lot of very good Belgian beer. I like a drink and make no secret of the fact and I reckon that Belgium is the best place in the world for beer, they absolutely excel at it.
I was getting to grips with most of the watering holes in town by now but I did manage a new discovery in the evening, the Cafe L’Exotic which was a little further out than my previous explorations had taken me. I wondered then, as I do now, why it was called l’Exotic and not l’Exotique with Beauraing being in a French-speaking region of this bi-lingual country.
I found the bars in Beauraing to be uniformly clean, tidy, well-ordered and thoroughly pleasant places to drink. This is all great and I can recommend any of them but I have this fetish for seeking out “rough houses” as will become apparent the more journal entries I publish on this site. I have literally been in places that locals will not go with me! Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not for one moment suggesting that l’Exotic is a place to avoid, far from it as it is an excellent bar with a decent selection of beer, friendly staff and friendlier patrons. It just somehow seemed to me to be more “real” than some of the other bars in town which, delightful as they are, all seemed to be a bit “twee” to me. Whilst it is nowhere on a par with some of the places I have drunk, it just seemed to be more alive and slightly less civilised if that makes sense.
My beer was well-kept and served as would be expected in Belgium and the locals were friendly to a fault, even putting up with my abysmal French which I did insist on trying out. This portion of the entry is an example of what I mean about L’Exotic. In other entries of bars I have numerous images of every little feature of various bars but this has two images, both taken from the outside as I was leaving. Not that I am suggesting for one second that anyone would have said a word to me had I taken images inside but it just didn’t seem right somehow. I suppose all things are relative and where I live this place would be deemed “posh” but here it really was not. I don’t really do upmarket and this bar suited me down to the ground.
I then ran into a bit of a logistical problem in that my only route back to the hotel required passing the Beaulieu again so I hardly need to tell you what happened. At least I had enough about me still to take a few images so I must have had a vague notion to keep my travel writing up.
In the last instalment I promised you a story of a spooky experience and so here it is.
I am an atheist and will defend that position strongly although I absolutely respect the beliefs of others. I lived in Northern Ireland for the first 28 years of my life and know to my great personal cost what religious intolerance can do.
When walking from my hotel into town in the morning I had seen a statue of the Virgin Mary beside a church close by but paid it little attention as such things are common in Roman Catholic countries. However, I have mentioned that the weather was cold as it had been all my trip and had turned damp throughout the day so that on my return there was a slight fog in the air. The statue assumed an appearance I can only describe as ethereal, frankly it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Sure, I ascribed it to the beer but a later look at my images, one of which I attach here, will possibly assist the reader in understanding. In truth, it does not really do justice to what I saw as it was a lot eerier than that.
It was only whilst researching this piece that I discovered that this was the site of an alleged 33 sightings of the Virgin Mary by teenage children which have been ratified by the Vatican. It is apparently a very holy site for those that follow the Christian belief although I did not know it at the time, there is just something about the place that got to me. It was a very strange feeling indeed.
I was to return the next day as I shall relate in this journal but it was fairly ordinary in the morning, it was just at that time and place, with the total stillness of the night, complete silence and a slight fog in the air that made it somewhat “unusual”. I have struggled here now for quite a while to find the correct word to describe it and cannot and so unusual is the best I can do.
No, it is not going to make a Christian out of me but I hope I have enough intelligence to know that there are things that I don’t understand and never will. Funny, they always seem to happen to me on the road, maybe just another reason I love to travel.
I’ll be back on the road tomorrow so stay tuned and spread the word.