Tuesday, September 6, 2016

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

On Saturday morning, Bill and I woke up, had our croissants and coffee, and decided to take a short road trip.  Originally, I said I thought we should see what is in Rochefort, since that is where we had originally intended to go.  Rochefort is a mostly pleasant forty minute drive from Durbuy.  I loved watching the scenery, seeing the little signs for friteries, and passing small towns where excellent Belgian beers are made.

When we got to Rochefort, we found what appeared to be a nice looking town with very little parking.  They were setting up for a little fair, so it was hard to find a good place to land.  Since Rochefort was pretty quiet when we passed through it, I mentioned that I thought we should visit Dinant, which had been suggested by an obnoxious Italian friend of mine who happens to live on the border of Belgium and Germany.

Dinant was probably another forty minutes away, so we drove through some more pretty countryside.  I got a kick out of all the Belgian draft horses I saw grazing in impossibly green pastures.  I was very horse crazy as a kid and still hope to have horses again once we finally settle somewhere and stop renting.

We also drove past a strange sight.  It looked like some kind of Belgian military memorial service.  A whole lot of cars were parked on the side of the two lane road.  I also saw the blue flashing lights of a police car.  As we approached, we saw what appeared to be elderly men and women dressed in regalia that suggested some kind of military memorial.  A few of them gave us peevish looks as we passed.  Had we known that was going on, maybe we would have altered our route.

As a music lover, I am really happy we decided to visit Dinant.  Not only is it a charming town, it's also the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone!  I did not know this little fact before we visited Dinant, as I had not done any reading about the town.  What clued me in were all the references to saxophones in Dinant.  There are saxophones on a bridge that crosses the river Meuse, which runs through the town.  There are little brass "footsteps" through the main drag with the names of famous sax playing musicians inscribed on them.  There's a park bench with a statue of Adolphe Sax sitting on it, and a museum, of course.

Dinant also has a fortress on a clifftop, river cruises, a gorgeous cathedral, and lots of restaurants!  Perhaps one of the coolest parts of our visit was driving through a massive rock formation called the Rocher Bayard.  Basically, it looks like a mountain split in two and just large enough for a car to drive through.  It's said that the rock was split by the massive hoof of a giant horse named Bayard, who carried the four sons of Aymon on their flight from Charlemagne through the Ardennes.

We lucked into a parking spot in a free lot just before the main drag into town.  We parked the car and started walking through the city, which was bustling with people... many of whom were also walking dogs!



We stopped in a green area to have a look at a statue...






Check out these hard, sweet biscuits imprinted by moulds.  These confections are native to the city.  They're called Couque de Dinant.  I did not know about these cookies before our arrival.  I just noticed them and thought they looked pretty cool.  Turns out, they are special to Dinant.


The first brass footprint I spotted... Glenn Miller!


Those who are so inclined can walk the stairs up to the Citadel of Dinant, which overlooks the city.  We didn't do it because of the dogs and the fact that we're old and pudgy.  I also saw a funicular available for those who would rather ride.


Part of Dinant's massive and impressive cathedral.



Famous sax player John Coltraine's footprint.


Adolphe Sax's monument.  Now, every time I hear a song with a saxophone in it, I will say a silent thanks to Adolphe Sax of Dinant, Belgium.


Another sax monument.



The above pictures aren't so good because of the construction.  If you look closely, you might be able to see the saxophones across the bridge.

It was about noon when we decided to stop for lunch.  We chose to sit outside at what looked like a small restaurant overlooking the river.  It turned out the restaurant had a large inside dining room and is pretty well known in Dinant for its mussels and frites.  The place was called Chez Bouboule Le Roi des Moules.  I didn't sit down there thinking I wanted mussels, though I do enjoy them.  What I was looking for was a quiet spot for the dogs.  When we sat down at noon, that's what the outside terrace was.  The waitress helpfully brought out a big bowl of water for the dogs.  It was much appreciated!


Bill peruses the menu.  We both decided to have moules with frites.


Bill got his with white wine and garlic...


I had mine prepared with the above beer.


Can't forget the frites!


I poured the last third of the beer over the mussels...  Both of us were served mussels in small Le Creuset pots.  I managed to finish about two-thirds before I had to stop.  The dogs were loving the mussels, too.

By the time we finished lunch, Le Roi des Moules was packed with people.  Zane and Arran behaved beautifully, except when a Belgian Malinois walked past.  Zane had to tell us and the big dog what was what.


Almost finished!  Gasp!  For the longest time, Bill wouldn't try mussels because he thought they were gross.  I finally got him to relent when we visited France the first time back in 2009.  He is now a fan.









More shots of the city.




These three shots are of Rocher Bayard.  Click the link for better shots.

Although Dinant was a bit bustling for us with our two pooches, it does appear to be a very dog friendly town.  There also seems to be a lot to do.  If we ever go back to Belgium with our dogs, I might have to look into finding a place close to this city and checking it out more closely.  The fact that it has such a tie to music is enough of a reason to go.  



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