New Beginnings

By alison - February 27, 2006 (Updated: January 5, 2016)

With February almost over and March about to begin, the past weekend was for new beginnings. I must say, it was a good weekend for it.

After the bleak depression that was February, I was starting to feel as if there would never be sun again. Some people blame it on Belgium, but I distinctly remember feeling this bleakness while being snowed-in in Halifax. But the great thing about February in Belgium, if there is a great thing about it, is that by the end of the month, you know spring is just around the corner.

Although it was chilly, Saturday was one of those days that let you know that spring is coming. The sun was shining – all day long. Boy, girl and Saint Bernard piled into the car, looking for adventure.

Despite our resolution to spend more time exploring our new homeland, we hadn’t been on a mystery drive in months. Andrew had been working most weekends and the weather didn’t encourage bundling into the car and venturing into the outside world. So we were long overdue.

We decided to head south. Our trusty Michelin map highlights scenic roads and there were several highlighted south of Namur. We knew nothing about the area but figured we would give it a go.

We weren’t disappointed. Namur itself was quite pretty. There is a huge fortress that we want to visit when it’s a bit warmer for climbing around old stone buildings. From Namur, we followed the Meuse river. I was stunned. Why hadn’t anyone informed me that right here in little old Belgium, we have views that rival the Rhine valley, without all of the tour buses. True, there were no vineyards on the mountainsides and the architecture was a bit more understated. But it was really very lovely and I’ve never even heard of this place before.

We continued down to Dinant which was another lovely spot. It was another bustling little city with a pretty center, overlooked by an ancient fort. We drove to the top of the hill for a closer look at the fort and determined that this was another spot we would have to come back and check out. Andrew looked interested in the gondola… I may have to pass on that or at least make sure my camera is glued to my face for protection.

While at the top of the hill I spotted a sign that said ‘Autricharie’ (Ostrich Farm). What?? I had to know. So we followed the signs through fields and to the edge of the universe and sure enough there they were – a great big flock of ostriches. The farm itself unfortunately is closed to visitors until June. You know I’m going to have to go back and check that out.

After our travels we decided to head home and since neither of us felt like facing the kitchen we thought we’d go out for a bite. We called up the Americans to see if they were up for trying out a new spot with us. It was called ‘The Living Room’ and while the food was good I don’t know that I’ll be rushing back anytime soon. It was nice to get out and socialize but with so many choices in Brussels, a restaurant has to be really great to get me to go back and I’d say the value wasn’t in the Living Room.

Sunday was a lazy day full of movies and books and slouching on the couch. It was a nice rest and hopefully now Andrew is starting to remember what it’s like to have a life.

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Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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  1. Comment by Di

    Di February 27, 2006 at 19:32

    Sounded kind of nice, and made me curious about fortresses and Rhine-like vistas … if only it were summer, even spring would do.

  2. Comment by Miss Jay

    Miss Jay March 1, 2006 at 17:28

    Mystery drives sound so full of potential!

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