Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Our pet friendly Belgian Labor Day Adventure... Part five

I'm going to combine the last two days of our trip into one final post.  The reason for that is because our Sunday plans got unexpectedly cancelled by driving rains!  Originally, we planned to either visit a French border town called Givet, or walk around Bastogne, which was another city that had been in the running for our Labor Day trip.

We tried Bastogne first, even though the skies were grey and looked like they might open up at any second.  Bastogne is well known among World War II historians.  Had we not had the dogs with us, I am pretty sure we could have seen some interesting museums.  It is where Liberty Road ends.

Unfortunately, Bastogne was not as inviting or dog friendly as Dinant was.  Since the weather was threatening, we decided not to stop and look around there.  So then we started heading toward Givet, which appeared to be a little more promising.  But as we were heading down the highway, the skies opened up and unloaded buckets of rain on us.  It showed no signs of letting up.  I told Bill that I thought it might be best to just go back to the chalet and have a quiet afternoon in.  He agreed and we headed back toward Barvaux.

Now... the next part of this story will not appeal to those with weak stomachs.  But, it was a memorable part of our trip, so I feel compelled to share it.  If you don't like stories about body functions, now might be a good time to move on to your next Internet station.

Still with me?  Alright then...

As we were heading back to Barvaux, I started feeling an urgent call of nature.  The coffee, water, and orange juice I had at breakfast was ready to be expelled.  Of course, because I had been having an ongoing Facebook discussion with Europeans and Americans about public urination in Germany, Bill and I were sort of talking about that as we started hunting for a place for me to take care of business.  I spotted a sign for a rest stop with a WC, so we pulled off the road.  I noticed a man brazenly peeing right by the road, completely unashamed.  I must admit to having a brief moment of penis envy.

Anyway, I noticed that there were three port-a-potties in front of the dilapidated building.  I had a sense of doom, since I figured there had to be a reason those were sitting there in front of a rest stop.  Port-a-potties are usually not very pleasant places themselves, so I figured the rest stop must be especially bad.

I got out of the car and inspected... and was absolutely shocked by what I found.  The toilets in the Belgian rest stop were overflowing with shit, dirty paper, and assorted other filth.  There were vile epithets spray painted on the walls.  Of the four "rooms", two had actual piles of excrement on the floor.  There were also piles of human shit outside of the rest stop, as if people had just gone behind the building once they saw how truly nasty it was.

I honestly couldn't see how this rest stop could be rehabilitated.  I think they'd have to demolish the building.  It was that bad.  I briefly considered taking a photo for my Facebook friends who had been arguing about how gross German rest stops are.  Let me tell you, as a former Peace Corps Volunteer, I have seen and smelled some truly repulsive public restrooms.  This one in Belgium ranks right up there among the very worst.  It was the stuff of nightmares.


I should have thought about this as we visited the nasty rest stop.

I quickly took care of my needs and got back in the car to tell Bill about what I saw.  Ugh...  As an aside, as we were coming back the opposite way yesterday, I noticed that the rest stop on the other side of the road appeared to be very clean and functional.

 We got back to the chalet in time for lunch and I slipped into my nightie and parked myself on the very comfortable sofa in the living room.  I wrapped myself in one of the very fluffy duvets and turned on the TV.  And then Bill and I spent the whole day watching a ridiculous show on MTV called Catfish.   I actually had to explain to Bill what catfishing is.  Given that we met online in the late 1990s, he probably feels like he dodged a bullet.

We had a nice lunch of rotisserie chicken and frites, which Bill managed to score fresh from a local snack bar.  We spent the day enjoying Belgian beer and chocolate.  It was restful and peaceful.  I think Bill especially enjoyed having the downtime.  The sun eventually did come out, but by the time it was out, we'd had a few beers and were neither in the mood nor condition to drive anywhere.  For dinner, we had what was left of the steaks Bill cooked on the barbecue the night before, along with more of the chicken from lunch.

Yesterday morning, we got up early and packed up our stuff.  The handyman showed up right on time to check us out.  He gave us back our 250 euros deposit and sent us on our way.  Bill stopped at the local chocolatier to get me a box of bon bons and some macaroons.

We decided to go back to Germany via France.  As it turned out, that was a pretty good idea.  I'm not sure if it was because of the time of day we were traveling or just that there's less traffic on that route, but getting home was a lot easier and less stressful than getting to Belgium through Germany was.  We completely avoided Stuttgart traffic.

One thing I saw on our drive that sticks in my mind were highway safety signs in Luxembourg.  I saw two of them and they were obviously intended to shock.  Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared to get photos of them, but if you click this link, you can see what I write of...  Basically, it's a picture of a young, attractive woman driving a convertible.  The front of her face is a bloody skull.

Another thing that sticks in my mind is seeing how the landscape changed as we drove back into Germany on B28.  That drive from France is absolutely beautiful and I was thinking we need to book a vacation in that "spa" area in Bad Peterstal and Griesbach at some point.  It's not that far from where we live, yet fairytale like.

Our biggest challenge of the ride back to Unterjettingen was in the last minutes of our trip.  We were stuck behind trucks for most of the drive back.  We'd lose one truck only to have another one get in front of us.  Compounding our issues is the fact that there's a lot of major road construction going on near where we live.  So, at one point, Bill got distracted by the GPS and almost rear ended the truck in front of us, which had stopped suddenly to turn into a small rest area.  Then, as we were passing the truck, it started backing up and almost broad sided us.

Then, when we were maybe four kilometers from our home, we had to take a detour.  The GPS sent us through Moetzingen, but that area also has closed roads.  It took some time to figure out a way to get around the construction and back to our neighborhood.  But... we are back, healthy and sound, and ready to plan the next adventure.  I will write one more trip to sum up what we learned on our trip to Belgium!






Borders!





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