Monday, 20 August 2012

Dijon it is

Almost a week ago we jumped on a flight out of Muscat and ended up in Amsterdam, where we had a day and a half to catch up with a colleague and have a look around the city. Well worth the time it was, quite enjoyable, although the hotel I had booked was further out of town than we would have preferred.
Amsterdam by dusk.

It was a nice little place with a tram stop almost outfront! And thankfully that line went straight to the Reiks Museum. Our first order of business was to wander around and get a feel for the place and then in the evening we went on a canal boat tour. Started in daylight and ended the tour in full dark. A great way to see the city, neither of us had realised just how much of a canal city Amsterdam is. Not as ubiquitous as Venice but still covering the whole city centre and just as important to the development and prosperity of the city.

The houses here are narrow (to do with land taxes), have wide windows and are no more than around 4 stories, as that is all the sandy soil base will support - even now with modern building tecniques. If the foundations are exposed to air the wooden beams start to rot and the building develops a lean!

From Amsterdam we trained across to Brussels. Nice to be back, as I have always liked Brussels. In between dropping through the WCO we shopped and ate. Luckily our visit co-incided with their flower festival and the Grand Place was under a carpet of flowers. And then all too soon it was farewell again to the familiar faces and places of Brussels, for tomorrow was Namur.
The Grand Place looking more speccy than usual

Namur is a little town in between Brussels and our next stop - Luxembourg. Why Namur, well it has a wonderful collection of 13th century gold and silverwork by a guy called Hugo d'Oignes and his workshop. When last I visited the collection was in the care of the nuns at a convent. Now it is in the local museum. Fabulous work, well worth the visit and this time I bought the catalog, something I always regretted after my first visit.
Namur at dawn

Since the works were created they had been on display and in use at the local Cathedral and despite numerous wars, battles and invasions the works were kept safe from the predations of Napoleon, Hitler and their ilk. That had a lot to do with the nuns and support of locals that valued what is truly wonderful workmanship and now forms a unique collection.

Katrina was also blown away by the small collection of woven and embroidered purses, dating from the 14th century.

Namur sits at the confluence of two rivers and boasts a wonderful collection of windy cobbled streets with typical Belgian houses and atmospere. For anyone who appreciates fine metal work this place is a must see - unfortunately no pictures as the museum said "non".

And then Luxembourg - by train again. Another picture postcard city. We spent an evening and a morning exploring, sticking to the heights of the old town. Luxembourg was/is a natural fortification, strengthened by centuries of digging in the sheer cliff sides. Until now there are the casement defences developed over centuries, you can see how Luxembourg became a tough nut, best left alone and bypassed! Red Squirrels!

From there Nancy beckoned. Place Stanislas is a must see - and another world heritage site. Man if it stood still it was gilded! A picture tells a thousand words -
It is stands still GILD IT!

And their museum is not alf bad either. Built on one side of Stanislas it boasts a small but nice collection of XIV to XVII paintings , the bones of the original citadel and a glass collection that is more than a bit over the top!

And now we are in Dijon, the home of mustard, Pinot Noir, the Dukes of Bourgonnia and the Owl's Trail. Which we started following today and will do more tomorrow before heading off for Geneva and a stay with Kiriel.  
Welcome to Dijon

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