21 September 2015

Where the Sidewalk Doesn't End

One of these days we will no longer be living in Belgium and for the record, I don't want to forget some important things, both good and not so good, about living here. 

Today it's the infrastructure.

I can walk from my front door to probably anywhere in Belgium by sidewalk or walking path.  I can also go by bike most anywhere I want, on a dedicated bike lane.  

It's not perfect, but for the most part, Belgium got this one right.  

From our front door, down a sidewalk about a block is this nice walking path . . .

that continues for over a mile.  Only bikers and pedestrians use it so it's really nice for walking the dog.

Biking and walking are not only encouraged, they're protected.  Every neighborhood street, every city street, even the major 5-lane roads provide a safe lane, away from traffic, for walking and/or biking. 

Like this one of many, for example.  It's the path I take when I want to go to the garden center by bike or on foot.  Completely protected from that major 4-lane road by that nifty tunnel.  There's a tunnel like this one at every major intersection to the main highway.

These are typical streets in our neighborhood where I walk nearly every day.

They are almost always tree-lined and the trees are both planted and maintained by the city.

There are always sidewalks on both sides of the street.  Those bushes around the trees are lavender.  They had already started to dry when I took this photo, but they are really bright purple earlier in the summer. They, too, are planted and maintained by the city.

This is definitely the typical house and garden in our neighborhood.  Very neat and manicured.  Actually, that's 3 houses.

Another typical residential street - trees, sidewalks, row houses.

This is the other end of that same street.  Houses are usually connected in twos, threes or fours.  Each one different architecturally.  This one in the picture is two single-family homes, but they are connected by one wall.  

The back will often look like this with each having their own little backyard like we do.

Here's our house from the back.  Since we live on a commercial street and not a residential street, our houses are connected by an entire city block.  In this one picture, in addition to our house, you can see one house on the left and two houses on the right.

This is a typical sidewalk and landscape between two sets of row houses.  Every inch manicured and green!

This street is right around the corner from our house.  It's busy and not a typical neighborhood street, but also not quite as commercial as our street.  You can see quite a few houses connected.  These aren't apartments, but row houses and they are bigger than they look.

There's one for sale in this photo - the red brick one.  I looked it up and it's about 2200 sq ft for $475,000. A day or two later I noticed it had already sold.

In the winter, these trees will be cut back severely, but they come right back out in the spring.

This is the elementary school at the end of that street in the previous photo.  Sidewalks and crosswalks make it easy for parents to walk or bike their kids to school and most do because it's much easier than finding a parking place!

When we lived in Ruston - within minutes of La. Tech, Starbucks, Mae Mae & Pop's -  never could we go by bike or on foot.  It's too dangerous.  

Randi lives just minutes from shopping and school and church, but can't consider walking or biking to any of them.  This unfortunate circumstance is officially called "car dependent" in the real estate sector and it's a damn shame.

16 September 2015

Out and About in Limburg

Limburg is a province and Hasselt is the capital.  Sort of equivalent to Louisiana and Baton Rouge.

A couple of weekends ago, the weather was really nice, so we got out and explored several places around Limburg.

This is a sale held annually to buy all sorts of mostly fowl - mostly chickens and ducks.

The quintessential chicken.

This tree had several of these huge mushrooms growing on it and they were emitting dust - you can see it piled up on the ground below.  I think they're called bracket fungi.

Next we visited Domein Kiewit.  We've taken Frazier and Norma Grace here before to see the animals - sheep, goats, rabbits.

Future project?

They have this nice little cafe and we couldn't resist having a drink on the sunny terrace.

We could hear planes so we followed the noise . . .

and found an open house going on at the Kiewit airfield - oldest in Belgium.

Hasselt held an arts fair along the "green boulevard" so we checked it out.  The green boulevard is the walking/biking ring that completely circles the city.

We also visited the C-mine in Genk.  It's an old coal mine that the city of Genk has restored as a tourist attraction.  They offer an underground tour.  We decided to wait for a chilly, rainy day for that and not waste this pretty day underground!

Ross had read about this labyrinth at the C-mine.

It is really huge - all the walls are steel.  Pretty elaborate undertaking.

Inside the mine-turned-tourist attraction was a photo exhibit of the team members of the Belgian soccer team - The Red Devils.

Fantastic pictures in sepia.

Last, we visited another open house.

It's the home and garden of a local landscape architect.

This pergola is made from sycamore trees trained to run on top of this grid.

I took a lot of pictures of this garden . . . because this garden is amazing and beautiful and for inspiration.  I would love to have one similar to this one day!

Dina Deferme - of course we bought her book.