6

The abandoned Château Rouge also known as Château Bambi, Red Castle, Hotel Rogue, and Castle Bambi was built in 1889 and abandoned in 2009.

More —-> http://www.abandonedplaygrounds.com/chateau-rouge-castle-bambi-hotel-derelict-in-belgium/

7

Walloon Sword

  • Dated: 16th century
  • Measurements: overall length: 85 cm. Blade length 69.8 cm

The handle is made wood with wire wrap, while the guard is fitted with a knuckle guard, finger guard, side ring (with plate) and a single short quillon. The pommel is large with diagonal groves and gives the sword a large balance. The blade is comprised of a single fuller, spear point and shows signs of use. The wolf symbol is stamped on each side of the forte with the number “1441”.

Source: Copyright © 2014 Antiques Armoury of Malta on eBay

Léon Degrelle presenting awards to officers of the SS Sturmbrigade Wallonien during a parade in Charleroi, Belgium on 1 April 1944. On 20 February 1944. Degrelle, now holding the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer and commanding the brigade, was decorated with the Knights Cross for his gallantry in action by Hitler personally, who took great personal interest in the progress of the brigade, and Degrelle became one of his personal favourites.

Koninkrijk België

Name: Belgium

Language: Dutch, French, German (Depends on which part of the country you are in)
 

General Overview: Belgium is a small country in Northern Europe. There is no one “official” language as Dutch, French, and German can all be heard here. It is split between the Dutch speaking Flemish of the north and the French speaking Walloons from the south. I understand that there is a friendly rivalry between the north and south parts of the country, similar to the southern US distancing themselves from the rest of America. 

Belgium used to be a part of the Netherlands until it declared independence in 1830. Although a separate nation now, there are many similarities between the cultures of the Netherlands and Belgium, the most notable being the Dutch language spoken in the Flanders region.

Brussels, the largest city in Belgium, is home to the parliament of the European Union and has earned the nickname “Capital of Europe”. Because of this, as well as the various languages heard throughout the land, Belgium is one of the most diverse countries in the world and there are many regional variances of culture depending on where you go. 

Belgium has no formal government and they have been trying to put one in power for the last year with little success.

Notable Cities: Brussels

Cuisine: There are 3 culinary items that Belgium is notorious for: Chocolate, waffles, and beer.  

The chocolate in Belgium is legendary and you can buy the amazing stuff your country imports for fairly cheap here. Any town will have a variety of chocolate shops available, most of which create the chocolate right there in the store. Beware of chocolate shops in the tourist areas, as they will undoubtedly overprice the products and even offer “rare/delicacy” chocolates that really aren’t that great. A lot of the good chocolates can be found at supermarkets for 1/4 the price of tourist shops and those aren’t even considered the best ones. 

Everybody has heard of the Belgium Waffle, but very few have had a proper Belgium style waffle. In America, waffles are considered a breakfast item that is doused in butter and syrup, but in Belgium this is not the case. Waffles are more of a snack than a meal, with most vending machines selling them. They come in oval shapes and are usually pretty thick. If bought at a store, they are normally topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar, as well as any additional toppings the customer prefers. These waffles are nothing like the toaster style “Egos” that Americans grew up; Belgium waffles are sugary goodness that would be considered “soul food” back home. A must do when traveling the country.

Despite Belgium’s small size (it’s population is 2/3 that of New York) there is a surprisingly large selection of home brewed beers available. At one store in Brugge, there were over 250 different types of Belgium beers available for sale. The Belgians take great pride in their beer and would not settle for the standard cheap beers like Carslberg or Miller Lite. Pale lagers are popular and are served in what look like large wine glasses rather than the standard pint glass.

One of the lesser known staples of a Belgian diet is fries. There are french fry stands all over the country and are usually served in a paper cone with topping of choice (the fries are popular with mayo, a salute to their Dutch neighbors).

Attitude: The attitude in Belgium is very laid back and friendly. It’s one of those rare places in Europe where you can actually get friendly service in a restaurant or bar. Everybody seems really happy and relaxed, making me wonder if they ever go to work or get stressed out.

Any time of the day people can be found at the parks enjoying some beer with their friends and family. In the urban areas, there is a really “cozy” feel to everything (besides Brussels, a fast-paced exception). I think that the Belgians feel a common tie to their neighbors, the Dutch (makes sense since they used to be the same country).

There isn’t the slightest tone of arrogance or superiority when speaking with Dutch people. They might feel a little overpowered by some of the large countries around them like France or Germany, but never inferior. This is a tiny nation that is proud to be just that; a small, cozy place to live and enjoy life.

Drinking: As said before, the Belgians take great pride in their beer. They love drinking in social situations and it can be quite easy to strike up a conversation with a local over a glass of pale lager.

Drinking in the streets is common, but acting like a drunkard is not. I rarely saw some of the rowdy street behavior that was common in Denmark and I believe that they try to maintain composure to look respectable in public. Hard alcohol like whiskey and vodka is not as common here and takes a noticeable backseat to beer.

Although unrelated to drinking, I should point out that cigarette smoking is much less common here than the other countries. There are very few stores that sell tobacco and they usually aren’t open very late. I am not sure what the laws against smoking are, but they seem to be working as the mass public doesn’t smoke that much (compared to previous countries).

Attitudes towards foreigners: The attitude towards foreigners is really good here. Belgians love meeting new people, and it is fairly common for foreigners to be in the country due to its small size. They always want to know what outsiders think about Belgium, and then will happily describe how they feel about your country.

When doing this, they won’t hold much back. They will tell you the good/bad things they perceive from your land without hesitation. At the same time, if you are from a place they have never been to, except a lot of questions. They are curious about foreign lands and love to learn about them.

English is spoken here at a pretty basic level. Most people you meet can speak English but might not be able to follow a natural speaker that well. Be sure to talk with common words in an understandable dialect; if you start talking as if they were fellow English speakers they might not be able to understand you. As long as you are polite, expect to be treated greatly in Belgium.

The rules: Belgium is much like Germany when it comes to following the rules. Streets are not to be crossed until the green man is up, trash is never to be thrown on the ground, and people are to be quiet when leaving the bar late at night.

Although Belgians follow the rules with complete respect, there aren’t very many rules to follow (could explain that). Written rules are not as commonplace in public areas.

It should be noted that Belgium holds the record for longest time without a formal government (breaking Iraq’s record last February) and to date has not settled on a real government, using what is called a “caretaker government” for the time being. Technically, Belgium is a state of anarchy, however there are still police forces keeping basic order and the citizens are living as if there isn’t a political problem. The government situation seems to have little effect on how people behave here.

Wealth: Belgium enjoys a decent standard of living as is on par with the rest of the industrialized world for wealth. There isn’t a high number of very wealthy people in the country, nor very poor people. The majority is middle-class and with the socialized system in effect, the distribution of wealth is pretty equal. 

I found it interesting that there were far less beggars in Belgium than anywhere else. Usually when traveling Europe you will encounter homeless people on the streets begging for change (highest in tourist places or train stations) but this is not as common here. Perhaps a testament to the countries wealth fare system working efficiently.

10

Cavalry Walloon Broadsword

  • Dated: beginning of the 17th century
  • Culture: French or German
  • Measurements: overall length 99 cm; blade length  87 cm; weight 0.95 kg

This cavalry basket-hilted sword called “Wallonne” in France or “Walloon” is a weapon originating from the 16th century in Northern Europe countries with a rising popularity in the 17th century and remaining in widespread use until 1730.

The hilt is typical of the Walloon swords featuring two large side-rings, two plates, one pierced with small holes and the second plain with a large thumb-ring on reverse. The knucklebow has an expanded central section, joining a large ovoid pommel.

The sword has large scrolled single quillon, braided iron wire-wrapped grip and a flat blade ending with a rounded tip. Originally, apparently, these swords showed up in the Netherlands around 1640 during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648).

Source: Copyright © 2013 Swords Collection

Belgian waffle: after a year of talks, coalition seems no closer

Leo Cendrowicz in Brussels, The Guardian, 12 June 2011
In the bars and boutiques around the splendidly gothic Grand Place in Brussels, tourists and locals can savour beer, chips and chocolate.

They can also enjoy waffles, another Belgian staple, and one which is aptly suited to the current national condition. Thanks to epic political waffling, Belgium on Monday will have been without a government for a year.

A caretaker government has been running Belgium since elections on 13 June 2010, but despite countless negotiations among the fragmented political parties, the country’s leaders are not even close to an agreement on a new coalition.

The deadlock reflects a widening split between French and Dutch-speaking communities who rarely intermingle, and increasingly refuse to learn each other’s language. In last year’s elections, the biggest proportion of votes, some 17%, went to the N-VA, a Flemish nationalist party founded only 10 years ago that calls for independence for Flanders. Despite his belligerent rhetoric, N-VA leader Bart De Wever is involved in seven-party talks on a new coalition, but there is a suspicion—and not just on the French-speaking side—that he is systematically sabotaging them for his own political ends.

Language bickering infects almost every political issue, to the extent that Belgians cannot even agree on what music to play in the Brussels metro. Last month, complaints about an apparent bias towards Jacques Brel and other French-language singers forced the public transport authority to restrict its playlist to English, Spanish and Italian songs.

Some say Belgium’s 180-year history, as a shotgun alliance of French and Dutch speakers, means the country lacks a sense of national purpose to push people together during a crisis.

"We have an awkward democracy, which is quite conflict prone," said Carl Devos, professor of political science at Ghent University. "If you don’t have a national identity, everything is defined as them and us. Belgian problems don’t exist: it’s only French and Flemish problems."

Yet for most Belgians these tiffs matter little. Thanks to well-functioning bureaucracy, rubbish is collected, buses run on time, and taxes still have to be paid. This is partly because many powers have already been hived off to Belgium’s regional governments and linguistic communities, who handle day-to-day responsibilities like transport, the environment, and local economic projects.

At the federal level, the caretaker administration of the outgoing prime minister, Yves Leterme, has kept things ticking over. It deftly helmed Belgium’s six-month presidency of the European Union last year, pushed through bold budget-cutting measures in February, and also dispatched fighter jets to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. The country is recovering well from the downturn: business and consumer confidence is at its highest level since 2007, and last month the government forecast economic growth of 2.2% for this year and 2012, well above the average of 1.7% for the eurozone.

"You could say that Belgium has invented a whole new form of governance: Nogov, " says Dave Sinardet, a politics lecturer at Brussels Free University (VUB). "The fact that Belgium has not done so badly in the past year, does in a way prove that the country is not a complete non-functioning mess, as some in Flanders claim it is."

The scant impact deadlock exerts on everyday life is probably why most Belgians shrug off the stalemate, even making light of it at times.

Earlier this year, tongue-in-cheek efforts to resolve the crisis included a campaign to get Belgian men to quit shaving until a government is formed and a suggestion by one MP that politicians be denied sex until they can agree on a coalition. When Belgium broke the world record for its government impasse, beating Iraq’s 2009 marker as undisputed dithering champion, it was greeted with ironic celebrations across the country.

There will probably be a few more mocking celebrations on Monday. It may well be another year before the crisis is resolved, but if Belgians continue to laugh at their bizarre condition, it probably means there is hope yet.

Léon Degrelle in his Sd.Kfz. 251 half-track with his children by his side during the parade of the SS Sturmbrigade Wallonien in Brussels on 1 April 1944. The Wallonien crossed the city from south to north passing in front of the “Bourse” (the Belgian Stock Exchange Building).

"I got to greet the Légion Wallonie parade in front of the stock house on one of our vehicles. I was happier and more proud than ever before when the armored cars and other vehicles drove past me with load noise. These were lent to us by Sepp Dietrich, but they were filled with our Belgian soldiers. I greeted every single machine with my right hand high, my steel helmet on and the freshly received Knight’s Cross on my chest. The other hand was intermittently holding one of my children’s hand who were allowed to climb into the vehicle and stand next to me. The mass, which estimatedly involved around a hundred thousand people, was cheering and threw us piles of flowers."

On the field, it’s Packers vs. Steelers. In Las Vegas betting rooms, it’s Mr. Rogers vs. Big Ben. In the bleachers, it’s Cheeseheads vs. Terrible Towels.

But what about the pregame kitchen and parking lot tailgate? This year, it’s a cook-off between slow-brewed booyah and pan-fried pirohy; between Wisconsin grilled brats and Western Pennsylvania kielbasa and sauerkraut.

In sports, as in life, we are what we eat. You don’t need a Super Bowl program to discover some flavorful differences between this year’s teams.

Booyah is a slow-cooked chicken and vegetable stew, brought to Green Bay by French-speaking Walloons from southern Belgium. More people of Walloon ancestry live in the four-county area around Green Bay than in any other region of the United States.

Pirohy is the distinctly Carpatho-Rusyn (pronounced Roosen) version of homemade dough pockets, filled with potatoes and cheese or sauteed sauerkraut, similar to Polish pierogies. Census figures count some 66,000, Carpatho-Rusyns in Western Pennsylvania.

So, what can these two ethnic communities reveal about Sunday’s match-up?

Many Walloons came to Wisconsin as farmers — first raising wheat, and then changing to dairy cows. If not for poor soil and insects ruining the wheat crop, Packer fans today might be wearing foam bread bowls on their heads.

Many young Carpatho-Rusyn males came to Pittsburgh at the start of the industrial revolution — thinking they would earn money and return home. The start of World War I prompted many to change course, and bring their families to America for good.

In the 1970s, Steeler fans of Eastern European descent saluted linebacker Jack Ham by hanging a sign that read, “dobre shunka,” which translates to “Good Ham.”

Text
Photo
Quote
Link
Chat
Audio
Video