Mechelen was more of a surprise than usual for me. Chris planned the entire thing. I wasn't really feeling that part of my routine this week and he offered to find a town and figure it out for us. He did a pretty great job.
First stop was the former school of Anne Boleyn. It has this beautiful little nook of a courtyard garden. I can almost see her here. As most of my knowledge of her comes from Netflix reruns of The Tudors, (I really don't recommend it aside from the eye candy of Jonathan and Henry), I imagined her here as a girl and innocent, before she became the conniving and then death-sentenced wife of Henry VIII...the word you're looking for is "anyway..."
Part of our travels brought us to this church and we ducked inside to wait for the bells to start. They ring for an hour at 11, (or maybe noon, probably noon), playing songs for the whole city to hear. Up front and center was our aim. While waiting, Chris ascended the twisting staircase to the top of the bell tower to view the city and took my camera with him. The image below is looking at the organ from above it through a hole in the floor. He is so brave.
Unfortunately for him, those bells ding-dong a few times each quarter hour and he was standing rather close when they did. Scared him half to death, he said!
Though it was another foggy day, the clouds thick like a comforter, I found this trip a bit enchanting. Sitting in the church, waiting for Chris to return, it was so quiet, only a few other souls inside. I got lost in the history of it all. I sat there and stared at all the details of the marble construction and wondered who else had studied them while sitting through a sermon hundreds of years ago. We've stepped into so many cathedrals and churches since arriving in Europe but thus far none have struck me like this one did so I thought I would share. Thank you.
Mechelen apparently once had a wall around the city, dating back to the middle ages I believe. In 1781 it was ordered to be destroyed and only this gate remains.
I'm such a sucker for nature. And autumn. And crisp weather. And parks. I have a hunch this park was strategically placed near the end of our trip because Chris knew I would want to linger here. He knows me well.
Hats off to all of you Movember crazies. The city sidewalks were all decked out to join in with you. This was one of several that we saw throughout the day.
Belgium is proving to be an interesting place to live in. Just walking along the street can give only one glimpse into the culture of this strange, once-medieval, mostly concrete, often modern, very scenic, and occasionally nature-filled country. I cannot understand it. I will probably never gain full comprehension but I can handle that. I don't think I'm supposed to.
One thing is for sure, and I cannot seem to get over it so please excuse the tiny digression from the point. I have never met people more willing to hold their ground and play chicken as you walk towards each other on these teeny sidewalks with no shoulder buffer to speak of between yourself and the road. Whether man or woman, young, old, group or single individual. No one is moving out of the way until the last possible second, if that. And no one is making eye contact or apologizing for the shove-off either. All that is needed is both parties to turn a little bit sideways to each allow the other safe passage but time after time I realize I'm the only one who did that, everyone else is squared shouldered and unmovable and usually in the center of the sidewalk, not even side stepping a bit. I would expect this in NYC. Not in tiny Leuven (and everywhere else in Belgium). Being someone who has a rather large personal bubble and not a lot patience to speak of some (okay, most) days, I'm about ready to shoulder check the next person that thinks it's okay to ultimately cause me to step into traffic or hug a building to walk past them. What is wrong with a little courtesy!? Ugh. Okay. Rant over.
I'm heading off into the woods today for a little hike because I think the sun may show its face and I for one am not going to miss it! Until tomorrow!