Last weekend, we took a little trip to Bouillon (yes, like the broth*) in Belgium. It's just about an hour away and has a spectacular castle perched atop a hill overlooking a ridiculously picturesque little town. We knew the kids would love the castle (particularly Kate, who adores anything remotely connected to princesses) but we also were excited about the falcon show. More on that later.
The view from the top of the castle.
See what I mean about ridiculously picturesque?
The castle itself was fascinating -- endless twisting and turning staircases leading up to turrets and down to dank, drippy dungeons and even one torture chamber, complete with horrific medieval instruments such as the Rack and thumbscrews. Will was mesmerized by all these, naturally, but was most interested in the machicolations, a word I confess I needed to look up.
They also liked pretending to blow Daddy away with the cannons:
Not that Kate stood a chance of getting a turn. Look at that face!
But she got her chance on the cannon too. Hers was a "magic cannon that didn't shoot anyone," just let them fly gracefully through the air.
Here's a shot of the town from the top of the castle.
But the real highlight of the day had to be the bird show. They keep many different kinds of falcons, owls and scavengers (condors and vultures of some type) at the castle, and you can walk around and see them up close. The kids loved the falcons, but I found the owls rather adorable.
Doesn't he look like he could use a good nap? I was surprised to see the owls out and about during the day since they're nocturnal, but we learned that actually they tend to nap around the clock like cats.
One of the falcons:
Will wanted his picture taken with every single falcon. I obliged him but won't post all the photos here. They all pretty much look like this--same cute little boy, slightly different bird:
Will also insisted I take and post here a picture of this bird. In case you're wondering, it's eating some dead little creature. Sorry.
The most surprising bird, though, was this giant Andean Condor. It was massive!!
They can have a wingspan of up to 10 feet and during the bird show we actually got to see him in flight:
Note the terrifying staircase of death in the background. (That's not its actual name, just what I decided to call it as we precariously dragged the kids up and down it to see the falcons on top of the castle.) You'd never see something like that in the States!
The show was small and the birds flew right into the audience, landing on the stone wall behind the bleachers. Yes, even the massive condor. He landed right behind Roger but I wasn't quick enough to get a picture. I did get one of this cute little owl, though:
Okay, I got a picture of part of him, but these birds are fast! And at least you can see how close they got to us.
After the show, we went down to the town for some lunch. Since we were in Belgium, we had to eat some frites. They really love their fries in Belgium, and rightly so -- they are delicious! I also had to have some moules mariniere, which were also delicious. I'm still too embarrassed to take pictures of my food in restaurants (tourist!) but I find myself wanting to do so all the time here. I'll work on it... The moules were really beautiful.
Then we bought some incredible chocolates at a nearby shop and walked down by the river for a while. Here's Kate, posing as usual:
A lovely day...
*It did cross my mind that the town shares the name with a certain broth. I wondered for a moment if it could be its namesake, but then I remembered that "bouillon" (the broth) comes from the French word "bouillir," which means to boil. Full story here. So, no, the broth isn't named after this lovely town. There were Lords of Bouillon but are they named after the broth? Vice versa? I have no idea...