Chased by Wild Boar and Haunted by a Ghost
Trip Start Aug 01, 2007
23Trip End Ongoing
To escape the city and catch a breath of fresh air, Kara and I took a little retreat to the outdoor playground of the Kingdom of Belgium: La Roche-en-Ardennes. After a short train-train-bus-walk ride, we finally arrived. La Roche is located in the heart of the Ardennes, an old mountain range that today provides the visitor with pine covered forests, quaint valley villages, numerous adventure opportunities and yes, an opportunity to see wild boar and a ghost. But we will get to that in due time
We stayed at an old hunting lodge now converted into a creaky old hotel with an interesting, yet seemingly appropriate, choice of décor. I don't know if I should describe the dusty wood floors, salmon painted walls, tasseled sofa and lamp and forest-panorama wallpaper as Victorian, Classic, or just French (meaning, I don't understand). After all, La Roche is located in Wallonia, the French speaking half of Belgium, which means we found ourselves communicating through a questionable game of charades. But hey, French classes start tonight so good-bye acting days...
After checking in Kara and I set out for our walk in the woods. After spending an hour trying to locate the trailhead, we finally set up the incline of trail number five, one that promised to be long, challenging and rewarding (with a small, trailside café for a cup of coffee or a Ciney brew halfway through). And so we climbed up, and up, and up, through the dense filtered light of the towering pine forest that once witnessed the battles of both World War I and World War II. At the top, we followed the trail signs down, down, down, towards the café, so we assumed. Needless to say at the bottom we found ourselves back at the exact place we started. No trailside café. Instead we settled for a box of chocolates and a cup of coffee along the river, watching the reenactment of the Battle of the Bulge taking place between an army of ducks swimming upstream and a group of kayakers paddling downstream
...As is wild boar. So we didn't see any boar in our misguided meander in the woods, which is quite fine by me, we did see their stuffed, fanged heads and the edible parts of their bodies hanging and proudly displayed in the windows of the many butchers. No pig products here, only boar. It should be noted that neither Kara or I ate any wild boar, at least not that we know of. I did have a gyro for lunch, and really, who knows where the meat came from.
In the evening we made our way to a dusty Irish pub, the first one we have been to that nobody spoke English in and the majority of beers were Belgian. In other words, it was Irish on its cover but French through and through. Ended up meeting a couple from Brugge and sharing several rounds as we talked about everything from the dogs who walk themselves in La Roche (Side note: here the owners simply open the door and the dogs head out on their own little walk, looking both ways before crossing the street. Problem: tourist see these "poor lost dogs without a home" wandering around the block and decide to take them home) to the politics of both Belgium and America. Before we knew it, four hours had passed and it was time to call it a night.
On our way home I had to look up on the floodlit ruins of the castle that commands the town from above. I was secretly hoping to get a glimpse of the ghost known to wander the premises during the nights. No such luck, according to the tourist information, the ghosts only makes appearances in July and August, the height of the tourists season.   ;
Visit Klenske, Ink.