Straight Outta Brussels – Roadtrip to Dinant and Francorchamps

Trains, buses and my own two feet here in Europe has changed the way I feel about transportation. Cars are simply a luxury and should be taken advantage of when you have the chance. A trip to Spa and Dinant were the perfect excuse to rent a car! There are buses and train routes that visit these two countryside towns however, it seemed a little complicated to visit without a car.

Spa home to the famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps which hosts the Belgian Grand Prix and other notable Formula One races. Honestly, I’m clueless to the world of cars nonetheless, Francorchamps was a tick off my Uncle’s bucket list. Who am I to stop a dream? It turned out to be an enjoyable day in the shy Belgian sun and I got giddy over Aston Martins. Win-win situation if you’re asking. Francorchamps is a 150 km trek out of Brussels. What makes the Belgian countryside so spectacular are the bends in the road that open into romantic valleys and picturesque towns. The race track reflected those qualities. To my relief Formula One doesn’t whip around in tiny circles like NASCAR. The course has turns and stretches that require careful maneuvering. The only gloomy similarity to NASCAR and Formula One is that beer in both camps still tastes like piss.

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For a simple day at the races, check the Francorchamp website to view start times, race types, and events. Car parking is 5€ per car. Seating is free on the greens and bleachers. If you wish to stroll through the paddocks, pay 5€ to enter. This gives you access to view the cars, private quarters of the drivers and crew as well as a restaurant that offers a killer view.

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Pack a lunch and sit in the bleachers? Looks as if you have almost made a free day at the races!

My Aunt, Uncle and I spent about five hours watching the cars go ‘round. We still had the rest of the day to drive around so we beelined for the tiny city of Dinant. The streets were narrow but, everything you would expect of a fairy tale town could be found here. Boats resting on cobbled docks, street art, and a citadel that watched from the cliffs above. A quick decision needed to be made as it was approaching closing time for many venues. The citadel seemed like a productive way to view the city. Two options will await weary travelers at the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame: hundreds of steps up the sheer cliffside or float up the hill on a ski lift.

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The fortress may have been built in the 19th century but, the land had been occupied since the 11th. The fortress is a great museum and gives visitors a rather hands on experience to what life was like during the world wars. The interaction interesting and a spine chilling experience. Everything seems dandy as you travel through the kitchens, armory, and sleeping quarters. Next, you walk into a dark room, the door closes behind you and the fortress becomes a trench labyrinth. A recording of gunfire and cannon blasts echo in the lofty ceilings of the fortress. I would not recommend this section for anyone with anxiety or those who panic easily. Jarring is a mild word for the feeling you experience. Next you walk down a flight of spiral staircases that narrow and slanted as you continue. Much like a funhouse however, I wager the architects were not going for funhouse.  The room is either slanted on purpose to confuse invaders or a product of age. Either way it certainly messes up your balance. This was one of the best museum-esque experiences I’ve had in a while. You can’t miss this place!

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Have you been to Dinant?

Your Cobweb Clearer, Kate

Dinant road trip

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