I wanted to celebrate Holi on Saturday, so I asked Rishi to check with his friends about any plans for the weekend. He called Shikhar and found out that they were planning a trip that weekend and they asked us to join them, so we did.
We celebrated Holi on Friday and left for the trip the next day.
Day 1 – 19 March 2022
We had breakfast and left our house by 9am. It was a long drive so I slept due to my motion sickness while the rest of them discussed Indian & World Politics on the way.
We stopped for lunch at Garzan Pizzeria & Grillhaus. We ordered 2 Pizzas and 1 Schnitzel. The delivery was quick and the food was good.
We then proceeded to our destination. We reached Monschau by 2pm and parked the car at a parking spot near the old town. A lady who was leaving offered us her parking pass which she had paid for the day. Shikhar & Sree went trekking while Rishi & I decided to explore the city. We decided that we would meet them at 4pm near the parking lot.
The German town of Monschau is located in the hills of the North Eifel within the Hohes Venn – Eifel Nature Park in the narrow valley of the Rur river, not far from the Netherlands & Belgian border.
The Altstadt (Old Town) is a dreamy place for a stroll. The heart of Monschau is made of row upon row of picture-book timber-framed houses with window flower boxes, where the wooden beams show and are painted in lovely, contrasting colours, cobbled streets, quaint shops tucked away in obscure corners, and the infectious chatter seeping out from the many cafés. We wanted to pause at every lane in Monschau to capture the old houses and shops lined on either side.
We explored the different street levels and finally reached the castle. The origin of Burg Monschau (Monschau Castle) is pegged at the beginning of the 13th century. In the following century, it was heavily fortified with ring walls and walled walkways. The castle witnessed instances of plunder, destruction, abandonment, and reconstruction before finally being renovated as a lively youth hostel, which is still popular to date. We enjoyed the lovely view of the town from its courtyard.
We then made our way down to the level we came from. We saw Rotes Haus (Red House) which is the former headquarters of the textile-industrialist Scheibler family and now a museum and Troistorff Haus which is a half-timbered house with a marvellous carving of a huge tree with cyan leaves on its front and was built in 1783.
By the time we were done exploring, it was 4pm so we went back to the parking lot. It was a little chilly, so Rishi called Shikhar to find out how long will they be taking to come there. They said they might take around 30 min so, we decided to sit in a sunny area. We went back to the open restaurants near the river and ordered wine from La Fontana Restaurant while we waited. Sree & Shikhar later joined us and relaxed. Later we walked a little with them and bought souvenirs before leaving Monschau.
It was again a long drive so I slept on the way. We reached our hostel in Malmedy, Belgium by 7pm. We kept our bags in our room, ate the leftover pizza from lunch and snacks we had and then decided to go for dinner. We drove to the city centre and went to our 1st restaurant Poco Pazzo and they said that they were booked. We, then went to a few more restaurants but they were all full or booked so we finally got a chance to sit in a restaurant called Mama Mia but their rating was quite bad and their service was also not that good so we left. We tried 2 more restaurants but they were all full or booked. So we decided to go to a different restaurant on the other side of the hostel. We drove to La Marie Catherine which was on a hill and had a nice view of the valley below. The place felt fancy and we were underdressed. The restaurant manager asked one of the staff to take our jackets and then led us to our seats. By this time, we were all not that hungry and only wanted dessert but this place only served course meals so we would have to order at least a main course dish for each of us and only then we would be allowed to order the dessert. We were not that hungry so we left there too, we checked another restaurant on the way back to the hostel for dessert but we were late as their kitchen was already closed. It was quite funny that we drove around town in search of dinner but ended up either leaving the restaurant or being denied service.
Day 2 – 20 March 2022
We got ready the next day, had breakfast and left the hostel.
On the way, we stopped at Municipal Cemetery Malmedy which was a Memorial for the victims who fell by the bombardments in 1944 in the Second World War. It had a lot of family graves and plaques.
We then drove to Barrage de Robertville which is a dam on an artificial lake called Lake Robertville. We followed the trekking route to the castle. Google Maps showed it would take us 22 min to reach but we almost took an hour to reach there. We did stop a lot for photos and also indecision whether to return back or proceed further.
We reached Château de Rheinhartstein which dates back to 14th C CE when the Duke of Wenceslas of Luxembourg built it. It passed several hands and by 19th C it had fallen into ruins. In 1965, Jean Overloop, a teacher from Brussels saw this and fell in love with the castle. He then rebuilt the castle, brought it back to its original glory all by himself! The tickets included a guided tour which started every 1 hour. We had just missed the one starting at 11am and would have to wait for another hour. We went to the cafe and had warm drinks but decided not to wait for another 40 minutes for the tour.
We then started our journey back. He decided to stop in Liège for lunch. We parked the car near Parc Saint-Leonard, also called “Esplanade Saint-Léonard”, which was occupied from 1850 to 1982 by a prison where resistance fighters and political opponents were imprisoned during the Second World War. This large urban site is made up of green spaces, a playground, sports fields and numerous public benches. The cherry blossom trees gave the park a mesmerising view.
We walked to the city centre in search of a good restaurant. We stopped at La Boulangerie for some Liège Waffles and finally proceeded to eat at Lazeez which was a middle eastern restaurant. We ordered Mossabah, Falafel and Lamb grilled. The food was tasty and the staff were friendly.
After lunch, we walked to St Paul’s Cathedral which is part of the religious heritage of Liège. Founded in the 10th century, it was rebuilt from the 13th to the 15th century and restored in the mid-19th century. It became a Catholic cathedral in the 19th century due to the destruction of Saint Lambert’s Cathedral in 1795. It is the seat of the Diocese of Liège. The architecture of the cathedral was marvelous.
We then started our walk back to the car. We stopped at Montagne de Bueren which is a 374-step staircase in Liège. The staircase is named after Vincent de Bueren, who defended Liège against an attack by the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold in the 15th century. It was built in 1881 to honour the 600 soldiers who died in the battle. We were very tired so we didn’t climb all the way up. We just climbed a few steps and clicked pictures.
Finally, we drove back home with lots of memories.