Number of tie wraps: 50 (holding steady)
Countdown: 8419 miles down, 166 to go
Quote of the day: “The tour is only in French.”
We enjoyed a relaxing day in Chimay that included plenty of Belgian food, beer, chocolates, and local sights. For lunch, Luke and Karen ordered fondue, and dipping those pieces of toasted bread into the cheese proved to be harder than it looks. More than one piece of bread slipped off the fork and took a cheese bath before being rescued.
After lunch, several of us toured the Chateau de Chimay, a small castle that has played an outsized role in the history of Chimay, which we learned about in a 20-minute 3-D movie that depicted various scenes from the 1,000+ history of the castle. This castle is different from many “tourist castles” in that a royal family still lives in it — Princess Elisabeth, her son Prince Phillipe, and his wife Princess Francoise. Our innkeepers were guests at the royal wedding when it took place several years ago.
The castle houses the sort of elegant objects you would expect, but it also had an unusual art exhibit by Koen Vanmechelen as part of the Cosmopolitan Chicken project, which interbreeds chickens from around the world with the goal to produce a globally diverse chicken. I’m still not sure I understand the significance of that goal, but I think you’ll have to agree that the project has produced some interesting artwork, including the “chog” in the second picture below.
After the tour, we ran back to the town square to catch a tram tour of Chimay and the nearby village of Virelles. After we bought our tickets and settled into our seats, the tram driver said, “The tour is only in French. Is this okay?” We figured we’d at least see some interesting sights, but we hadn’t counted on the tram taking off onto some dirt roads that bounced us around so much we thought we were back in Siberia. However, we did manage to pick up some of the flavor of the local culture.
After the tram tour, Karen and I picked up some chocolates from a local store (8 euros for 250 grams of chocolate that would have probably cost $40 in the US) and then met Simon, the other housecat at our bed and breakfast.
About 6:30 we ate some chocolates and then wandered back to the town square to take in a free folk music concert and try out some Troll beer.
We called it an early night after meeting another Chimay kitty and having a quick bite to eat at a local pub.
I’ll leave you with the view from my window of the church at night. Tomorrow we drive to Rheims, France, the location of the first-ever air race!