ODTAA 2010 P

Traveller's Tales

Travelling back



ODTAA 2010

Friday 30 July
Brussels airport. We need to get to Liege. Catch the train from the airport after some hectic running and heavy lifting (Belgian trains are unusually wheelchair unfriendly (no drinking water on the platforms, either)). Have to change at Leuven. Where is the train to Liege? All the signs and timetables on the platform and the train appear to be taking us off to somewhere called Luik. Which we finally work out is Liege, only in Flemish; the Flemings will have no truck with French in any form, even as placenames. Belgium!
At Liege our hotel is just over the street from the station, which is handy.


 It’s not bad, and the rooms do interconnect, which means that the others can come to my rescue when I find that I’m developing a small pressure sore and now I can’t sleep either lying down or sitting up.
Can’t lie down, can’t sit down – I’ll just have to stand, I suppose.
To put it another way, I’m fucked.

Saturday 31 July
Rose heads off to do her client work.
Chris looks at the map, notes that the Prince-Bishop’s Palace is just down the street from the station, and we set off.
Prine-Bishop's Palace, Liege
Walk for half an hour without coming across any such palace. Passerby looks at our map and points out that the Prince-Bishop’s Palace is just down the street from the Liege-Palais station, not the Liege-Guillermins station. We trudge back. Still, we pass a nice cakeshop and buy a selection.

Sunday 1 August
For the first time this trip we have a day free for sightseeing, so we take the train to Aachen. A nice man tells us we’re there and helps us down with the wheelchair. The conductor comes along and informs us frostily that this is by no means Aachen, Aachen is twenty minutes on. He does not help us back on with the wheelchair.
At Aachen we walk up to the cathedral of Karl the Great, or the chapel of Charlemagne, depending – a wonderful medieval tower from the ninth century, which I’m sure would be very beautiful indeed if it wasn’t under repair and almost entirely filled with scaffolding.
Still, it looks very pretty on the postcards.

Aachen dom

Aachen also boasts the only wheelchair toilet that I’ve ever seen that is at the top of a flight of steps. (Apart, oddly enough, from VTU in Abbotsford) Very innovative.

After a large lunch and a huge doggy bag we go to the cathedral treasure house.
Lovely gold enameled bust of Charlemagne with a removable crown and a little button on the top so you can lift it up and look at his skull.

Charlemagne reliquary

 Not that I do, of course. They frown on it.

We hurry back to Aachen station.

Lift out of order

Ah. The lift to the platform is out of order.
The station attendant says we’ll have to wait for the next train in an hour and a half.
Will the lift be fixed by then? Shrug.

After a day in the chair I am flagging rather, and another hour and a half would be difficult. Rose and Chris lug the chair up two flights to the platform, puffing and cursing. Well, it’s nice to know they’ve still got it. Back to Liege.

Dinner of bread and delicatessen stuffs. I note that for Belgians the name of Passchendaele, redolent in Australia as one of the worst mass slaughters on the Western Front, is just a cheese.

passendale cheese

I suppose that in Belgium if you avoided all the names of famous battlefields you wouldn’t have many towns left to name your produce after.

Trouble sleeping.

Monday 2 August
We have the morning free and decide to have another crack at the Prince-Bishop’s Palace.....

Anne McDonald Centre. 538 Dandenong Road, Caulfield 3162 Victoria, Australia Ph: 03 9509 6324, Fax: 03 9509 6321
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