Thursday, February 12, 2009

Leuven Fun

After our Parisian adventure with the Willinghams, next up on our itinerary was to check out Leuven - a university town about 30 minutes away from Brussels. We took the train and poked around the "town and gown." With all the students on bicycles and academia in the air, it made me miss Davidson College. There is just something special about college towns.

My very favorite spot in Leuven was the Groot Begijnhof. Founded in 1230, the Groot Begijnhof was one of the largest beguinages in Belgium, home to several hundred beguines. Beguines were lay nuns, who opted for a secluded existence devoted to charitable deeds, but not bound by strict religious vows.

This complex of 70 red-brick cottages is set around grassy squares and cobbled streets. There were letters randomly peppered amongst the stones - many with "E"s on them. Not sure why, but it was charming! Now the Groot Begijnhof is owned by Leuven university and converted to student housing, but the policies of silence and reverence remain in the quaint walled area. We had fun tiptoeing through and soaking it all in. Fortunately Connor was napping while we were there so we whispered amongst the gurgling stream and the antiquity of it all! The only sound was the perfect melody of the church bells in the bitter cold.

Back in Brussels Cara built a bed of pillows and blankets to snuggle with Connor in front of Connor's all time favorite movie, "The Jungle Book" - they were adorable all cuddled up and cozy. Finally, that night I went out with Ed and Kirk to Delirium Cafe - a famous bar in the center of town that has a menu of 2000 beers. You know that made the guys happy! It was a bit smokey, but the decor was colorful and fun. I especially got a kick out of all the beer trays on the ceilings and walls!

Click here for Leuven (full album)

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