Subject: Belgium with Germany sidetrip

We've been in Leuven, Belgium (a delightful medieval university town with more good beer than there is time to drink it--and wonderful Belgian chocolate, too) for over a week visiting our son and grandchildren.

Yesterday we rented a car (33euro/day) and drove back roads through the Ardennes, stopping for lunch in Dinant, a lovely Belgian town on the the Meuse River. We drove through green forested land and on to Bastogne, where the American forces fought the Nazi troops for two cold months in 1944. The center of the city celebrates the successful American effort with a U.S. tank in the city's plaza. We contined on through Luxembourg, stunned by the scenery but not particularly impressed with the city. We ended the day's drive in Trier, the oldest city in Germany.

Trier was established by the Romans in 16 B.C. under Emperor Augustus and became a Roman Imperial residence and capital of the West Roman Empire. Among ancient structures still standing is the Porta Nigra, the impressive Roman city gate from the 2nd century, which also served as a church, the Imperial Baths (4th Century), a Basilika (Roman Throne Room and now a Protestant Church) built in the early 300's, the Cathedral built over a former Roman palace from the Constantine era (Constantine lived in Trier for a decade). Many structures are from the middle ages and the grave of Matthias, the only apostle buried north of the Alps, is at the Abbey Church.

We stayed at the Hotel Am Ufer across from the Mosel River and had wiener schnitzel and frites with the local Bitburg beer at a pub on the Mosel. Today, Saturday, we stayed on the byways, stopping in Bitburg for a bite to eat, thence on to Liege, finally joining the fast divided highway in Liege for the trip back to Leuven.

This wonderful spur of the moment little sojourn was a terrific experience and we heartily recommend Trier and the byways of Belgium and Germany to anyone traveling in this part of the world. We leave Leuven Tuesday on the Thalys to Amsterdam, boarding a smaller cruise ship there for two weeks of English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, North African ports. We'll return home when it's a bit cooler than the mid-nineties Austin's been experiencing.

Carolyn Today in Leuven, normally in Austin, TX