Sunday, December 24, 2006

Bastogne - Battle of the Bulge 1944-1945; Ardennes

Bastogne. World War II.  Victory in Europe Day. VE Day. May 8 each year. 

Mark that on your calendar if you are abroad at that time. It is an important date in Europe, where the experience of war is direct and devastating. Go even in the middle of the remembrance.  For one or two, there is always a place to stay.

American Soldiers' Memorial, Bastogne, Belgium
Belgium is the area of the Battle of the Bulge. See // At Bastogne, there were still veterans' groups there, several days after May 8. People come and stay, still.

The museum there has large exhibit and experiential areas, see the site for photos of it, and maps, and military strategy. Dan got lost in it - with the strobe lights, and sound booming, and exhibits opening onto exhibits with life-size figures and stage sets.  That is part of the experience - where to go for safety.  I was not far behind, but do watch out.

See also these sites for photos, and then an account of the military activity at Bastogne://; and Go to the home page first, and only use the later address section to see you are at the place we reference.

These events are becoming remote - This was not my generation's war. Think of famous people you do know - General Patton, General McAuliffe with his response of  "Nuts" when told to surrender by the German officer.

Textbooks can never lay out World War II to our children.  Take them there. Anchor the history. Here is the memorial to the allies from their sacrifices in World War II.

There is continuing gratitude, even homage, to the Americans who fought here in WWII, and the principles they fought for in that era; and sadness and disbelief about the present.
American Soldiers' Memorial, Bastogne, Belgium; view from the top

There is a fine view from the top of the memorial.

Precaution again: If you have small children at the museum, watch them closely, because it is realistic, strobe-lit, maze-like, and loud, to recreate some elements of battle itself. Easy to get involved and a child may wander. Dan was old enough to simply stay put until I came.  A younger child may just keep going.

There is basically one way through, however, so if the adult keeps going, the child will probably reappear.

Only recently a war museum like these opened up in this country - the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, opened 12/2006. See

Don't miss the American memorial, a star shape, and go to the top, for the people they helped.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Waterloo - Napoleon vs The Duke of Wellington. The Lion of Waterloo Is ....

The Lion of Waterloo
At the Summit
The Duke of Wellington Prevailed

Waterloo, Memorial to Wellington, the Victor over Napoleon

June 18, 1815. Waterloo. Waterloo. This is an easy drive from a side-trip in Luxembourg. See// More at

For all the hype, the battle was a pivot-point in history, the Anglo-Allies including the Prussians and their defeat of Napoleon. Good spot for children, with educational displays, movies, walks, panoramas. Also loud. Much cannon, shouting.

There are museums , panoramas and easily-walked areas. Here is a site that focuses on Napoleon specifically: // See maps, biographical events.

What is behind any victory?

Weather.  With a muddy field, Napoleon had to hold back until noon for something big.  Communications.  Do you risk a horse and a man with a message, over hostile terrain, and what if the message does not get through.  Timing for an assault.  If  "Ney" had pressed sooner, the superior numbers of Napoleon's forces could have prevailed.  But Ney could not really do that, so the opportunity passed. Superior judgment calls on the part of Wellington, combined with this or that, and Napoleon just 100 days off his prior banishment -- he did what he could with his 1) rabble and 2) superior artillery. 

All is not merit to any victory.  Some look for destiny, but on the field, there is more than merit.  An invisible hand?  Whose.  Don't wait for it.   

For the best overview we have found, about tactics, luck, judgment calls about and who was available for leadership, see ://

Monday, December 18, 2006

Links, posts, archives

<a href="
6EHDMBZTNE55"rel="me">My Technorati proļ¬lea>

References to third party websites are in longhand, pending resolution of the direct linking and copyright issues raised in summary at This slowing up of anyone seeking fast information may meet some people's profit needs, but not the common good. There must be a way to provide reasonable compensation without tying everybody's wrists to ankles in flying from site to site as we like to do.

Posts here began in the chronological order of the trip, arrival to departure, then change as we update. We use posting dates as a way to organize material.

Technorati Profile

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Luxembourg - Side Trip. General Patton's Grave, Castle, Home

Luxembourg is an easy drive from the Bastogne. Get up early and see most of what you need in a full day; spend the night somewhere in Luxembourg City, see the cliff caves and sights the next morning, and back toward Waterloo.

Luxembourg is tidy and well organized. It is also a place of castle after castle, and the grave site of General Patton.

Follow General Patton there, to his burial place at Hamm Military Cemetery at Luxembourg City, and see the castles along the way. See Luxembourg Road Ways. From there, we came back to Belgium and to Waterloo.

Castle, Luxembourg

General Patton, Grave, Hamm Military Cemetery, Luxembourg

Tidy home, Luxembourg

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bruges -Once a Major Port

Bruges, Belgium. Canals.

Bruges: Medieval, canals, once had a harbor. See the photos at /

Park at an outlying area, then take the little train to town, and walk it.

Bruges, Belgium. Town Hall

Bruges, Belgium. Bridge, canal.

Here is a picture gallery, in a curriculum oriented site:
Museums - a day in itself. See // Do a search for Bruges and Hans Memling for this 15th Century painter, a focal point of many art history courses.

At lunch, try the river eel with herbs. Prepare eel yourself, here is a big website with lots of choices - Be prepared to park at a far distance, and then take a little train to town, built just for that.

For an overview of Belgium, and mention of the river eel with herb sauce, see the Expatriate Guide at The Expatriate Guides (for people living outside their home countries) are useful as a start in any country.

More on Belgian food: We also found fries served with mayo. Not bad at all. And snails served as street food.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Itinerary After The Fact

Belgium was part of a three-country two-week drive, beginning in The Netherlands, and extending into Luxembourg.

We entered Belgium after leaving the Maastricht area, the Netherlands, and went directly to the Bastogne area in time for WWII memorials; then into Luxembourg. From Luxembourg to Namur, Waterloo, Brussels, Ghent, Kortrijk, and Ypres (where a Canadian great-uncle fought in WWI, and a more distant cousin, in the Royal Scottish Fusiliers, died). From Ypres into France, Arras, to find the cousin (we did); to Bruges, and Antwerp.