Namur, Belgium


June 6, 2000

Namur offers a non-touristy, yet somewhat scenic, Wallonian (Southern Belgian/The Francophones) city that has now become the capital of Wallonia. The location and construction of the new parlement offers a view into the thinking of the area, that there isn't much of a need to rush ahead when the old systems still work. The Flemish half is becoming more contemporary in government and is gaining the economic edge over the Walloons.

The generalization of this is most fascinating. It seems every country has a slower south, where things are more relaxed, there's less money, but to some extent a less stressful/more healthy lifestyle. I've seen this in Spain, Morocco, France and now the growing sensation of that in Belgium!

Exploring the town was good for half a day, then I caught up with Olivier for a pleasant lunch at a street café to get an insider's view of the political grind here.

Afterwards I headed off to the citadel, a pleasant climb from the main area of town and symbolic bridge where two rivers come together. My first entry was into what looked like a back entrance, but indeed, it was the front door to a room mostly filled with screaming children on a class trip.

Ausralopithecus Africanus, Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, Homo Sapiens, Neanderthalensis, Sapiens Sapiens "Archaique" (Proto-Cro-Magnon), Sapiens Sapiens (Cro-Magnon). While this may sound like something that could be an Ancient Latin rap song, it's actually the classification of the developing human beings, who's skulls were on display in the best part (actually the only part the kids weren't running around and thus the best) of what appeared to be part of a small temporary exhibition.

Upon exit I was seduced by the music pervading from the Perfume museum. If music tames the savage beast, then I am the most savage of all. Or perhaps I am tame and it is the music that makes me savage? That's a thought that should be saved for another time, perhaps when visiting the home of Mozart, hopefully sometime on this journey. Back to the fragrant welcome of the one room display of bottles… It's basically a sort of a sales room, with a perfume making demonstration on Saturday, but it was pleasurable and the sample was enough to recharge my morning's application of deodorant.

A little further and there's a good look down at the rivers and part of the town. The sun steams away what is left of the early Belgian rain over the man made caves: the citadel's foundation. A door had rusted off its hinges and lay on the ground inviting me in. I was without my headlamp, but felt my way into the complete darkness. I could hear a dripping sound coming from not directly ahead… so I felt onwards and after making two right hand corners, saw light through peek holes in a staircase I had walked down earlier!

I left the wet cell to find peek into some of the outside rooms left open for the less adventurous tourists and then found a better-kept open door. It was lighted too, so it was probably part of a tour. But the lights ended; however, my footsteps did not.

There must be miles of passages and rooms in this dungeon like area! It wasn't creepy crawly either. These were wide arched cobble stone tunnels that curved up and down… I think there were three stories at one point! These spaces were used for storage 900 years ago and I understand some are rented out to age wine today. With a little imagination, this would make the perfect place for a friendly dragon's comfortable den.


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