We got into the Novotel Hotel in Maastricht late last night — around 9:30 pm. Some of us scrambled for a bite to eat at the hotel bar. A mini-pizza was about the only choice, if you could get the attention of the frazzled and not-particularly eager barmaid. We had big lunch, so Dan and I said “screw it” and went to bed.
Today is another beautiful, sunny day in the Benelux countries, and by the time we are finished, we will see all three of them today. We started in the Netherlands; spent most of the day in Belgium; and will sleep tonight in Luxembourg.
One thing about this part of Europe is we can never be quite certain what language is being spoken. We started the day in Dutch, while in Bastogne, we encountered both French and German. None of us speak any of them worth a darn, so I guess it doesn’t really matter. Birdie has become an expert at dealing with waiters and shopkeepers by pointing and nodding.
This morning our first stop was the American Military Cemetary at Margraten, Netherlands.
We spent around an hour there and then headed to Bastogne. Dan commented how impressed he has been with the darn-near-perfect condition of the cemeteries we visited. There isn’t a stray piece of grass to be seen.
Our first stop in the Bastogne area was the village of Foy. (That was the village Easy Company of The Band of Brothers attacked in the episode “The Breaking Point.”)
Then we rode back towards Bastogne about a half mile to Bois Jacques (John’s Woods). This was the actual location of Easy Company during the Battle of the Bulge. We walked through the woods a few hundred yards to the exact position Easy Company occupied.
The foxholes are still evident. Very cool.
We had one more sip of Birdie’s calavados brandy to commemorate the occasion.
Our final historical stop of the day was at the American monument to the Battle of the Bulge, at Mardasson, near Bastogne.
From there it was back to Bastogne’s central square (McAuliffe Place) for lunch.
Dan, Birdie, Ron and I ate at Le Nuts Café. The restaurant is named for the reply the 101st AB Div acting commander, General Anthony McAuliffe gave to the German’s demand for surrender – not for the specialty of the house.
I had a Belgian version of a ham and cheese sandwich, but the other three guys all ordered a “croque a bleu,” which was essentially a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with additional cheese melted on top. I had some of Dan’s and it was outstanding.
As I write this, we are on our way to Luxembourg City for dinner and the evening.
Tomorrow, we hit one more American cemetery and then a long (600 km, 360 mi) drive to Munich.