Dinant…Almost Did’not Happen!

September 19 – Dinant, Belgium (pronounced Di na’)

So this morning we got a nice refresher on how when trains split, you don’t want to be on the wrong side…we set out from Brussels this morning on the way to Dinant…only about a 1.5 hour train ride from Brussels. What should have been a quick 1.5 hour trip turned into about 3 hours…why you ask? First of all, our first train from Brussels was cancelled, unexpectedly so we took the time to book a trip to Paris for Monday, good use of our time. What happened next was not so much….

So again, it’s been a while and we are a little rusty, we’ve had this happen once before, but it was years ago, and because of this experience, we are now on the alert. We pulled into Namur, and there was a bit of a wait, definitely longer than most (rewind – this would be the time that they were disconnecting the trains). About 30 minutes later and a few stops, I looked and Cierra and said, this doesn’t feel like the right way, we should be in Dinant by now. And sure enough, I was right. I asked the ticket agent, he laughed, and in his best English, which wasn’t that good, explained that we were on a train that had disconnected at Namur…and we were on the wrong end. Ahhhh, I explained back in my best French, which wasn’t that good. Time for an immediate course correction.

So we hopped off at the next stop, which was in the middle of nowhere and got a sweet adrenaline rush in that it was a 2 platform stop and we were right in the middle as trains buzzed by at over 100 mph. The kids were pumped and freaked out at the same time, it was pretty awesome! Hopping back on the train towards Namur and stopping in Namur, we hopped on the right side of the disconnected train from Brussels and headed this time on the right train, on the right track, in the right direction to Dinant. As we watched the trains being disconnected from the platform, Sienna asked why the train disconnected and we went the wrong way. I had a philosophical father moment and explained that’s what life is like sometimes. Sometimes you go down the wrong track. It’s simply corrected by hopping off, turning around and correcting course. Seemed a good enough explanation for a 4 year old and a good reminder for me, that, that is life and truly the case!

After finally making it to Dinant, a few hours later than we hoped to, we quickly corrected course and made up time. Dinant was amazing!!! And we can’t wait to get back again!!! With a beginning dating back to the 10th century, Dinant’s most impressive site is by far the citadel high on a rock face looking over the Meuse River and the onion shaped bell towered Notre Dame church. Before hitting the most impressive sites and thanks to the longer than expected train ride, it was time for lunch…and more importantly the Leffe Abbey. Leffe, by far one of our favorite brewers calls Dinant home. We walked uphill to the Maison de Leffe, took the tour, met the only 2 surviving nuns from the Leffe Abbey and then Jeff. Jeff was the best tour guide ever, gave us extra keepsakes, Leffe glasses, extra samples and promised to ship us the Leffe Christmas Ale. Leffe had a trampoline and tons of green space for kids, an excellent menu, and more importantly almost 10 types of Leffe. With an excellent meal and a few Leffe’s in our bellies, we headed across the Meuse and up to the church and citadel.

The church, a dark stone, Gothic style instantly takes you back in time and the citadel has origins from Charlemagne through World War I and II. The church was impressive and during a short walk through, it was the first time Sienna and Mylan have been quiet at the same time for more than a 5 minute span. You can just feel the presence of God in the church and the blessing that he bestowed upon man to create such a splendid site. The kids even took time to say a prayer for our family and friends, check out that pic below, priceless!

We explored the church and then took the funicular (which the kids dubbed the roller-coaster ride) up to the citadel. We explored the citadel, went zip lining, played in a park, and most importantly stormed the castle!!! A good time had by both us and the kids. After a little more exploring of the town that gave us the inventor of the saxophone and Leffe, we were done for the day. We headed home and this time were sure to hop on the right side of the train before heading back to Brussels! Tired for the night and excited for Ghent, Belgium the next day, we crashed!

Cierra’s Notes: Okay so here are a few missing pieces that I wanted to add.  We finally arrived with our two kiddos in Dinant. Pronounced by the Belgians as D’No. Pronounced by us: Deee-nant. In any case it was almost 1pm and lunch was in order. We quickly found the information spot and asked where the Leffe Maison was ( with the restaurant ).  We marched the kids up the hill like drill sergeants until we reached the pinnacle of beer-Le Maison Leffe.  We told the guy at the front desk that we would be back for the tour but first wanted to have some lunch. Luckily, there was a trampoline and a grassy area for the kids to play in.  Mike and I took turns watching the kids while we waiting for our food.  It took awhile but the views were gorgeous and the children were having fun.  Once our glorious Leffe Royals were served, we enjoyed our lunch and proceeded to our tour.  The tour was more of a virtual tour but it was still interesting. We quickly moved through it and then at the end had a choice of 3 Leffe beer to try.  Mike and I decided it would be best to take the kids outside while I waiting for the young man to pour our beers. Chatting it up with the young guy, Jeff, I found out that Leffe had a Christmas Saison. Clearly they do not have this in the states and it is not sent there BUT Jeff did open another beer similar and we had an extra taste. I gave him tips about Oktoberfest and he gave me helpful info about Belgium beer.  We got his email address so he can ship us this glorious beer for Christmas.  Apparently I was taking too long and Mike and the children returned just as I was about to leave the bar with a platter of beers. We made our way back out to the terrace to enjoy them and watch the kids run and play.  On our way out we got TWO Leffe glasses ( we should have only received one ).  We felt pretty good and decided to march on to the Notre Dame of Dinant.  The church was absolutely gorgeous. Even the children knew intrinsically to be quiet and enjoy the architecture and art. From there we took the gondola up to the top of the cliff for the old Citadel.  This was an important place for WWI. I never realized the historical importance of this city but on this day it all came to a head. The crazy part about it was that it marked the 100 year anniversary of when it all took place.  Walking through the underground bunkers and hearing the sound bites with the children were pretty sobering.  Once we were through the museum there was a park for the kids to play in. This was great and we all had a blast. We took advantage of the zipline and the great views.  We headed home shortly there after and crashed. We grabbed two frozen pizzas at the train station for dinner and called it a day!

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