Wednesday, August 19, 2015 / Stephanie / Exploration  

The Bayard Rock greeted us as we approached the city of Dinant, Belgium and soon we were "Oo-ing" and "Aah-ing" over the city's waterfront. Row houses, each unique, lined the Meuse River.  Passenger vessels filled to the brim with tourists (the very same vessels which shared the Ecluse Anseremme with us) motored upstream and downstream.  Kayakers paddled upstream, en-route to explore the Lesse River which here connects to the Meuse.  People strolled the walking path, and filled the seats at riverside restaurants. The grandest sight...Dinant's 17th century citadel perched atop the limestone cliffs!  The Notre-Dame was pretty fabulous too!After securing Detour at the plaisance pontoon, we were anxious to explore!  Our first destination, of course, was the citadel atop the hillside, which could be reached via a cable car.The afternoon sunshine was deceiving, however, because once we'd reached the entrance to the citadel it was already 10-minutes prior to 6:00pm - closing time.  Ah shucks!  "Ah well, let's just take the stairs," I said, not worried about the soon-to-close cable car.  After visiting forts, citadels, cathedrals, and all sorts of ruins throughout France, some of which semi-preserved, some touristy, some totally left to one's own interpretation, it seemed no big undertaking to hoof this ourselves in order to see the sight.  "Oh, no," said the ticket window girl, "you have to pay, better to return tomorrow when you have more time."  Ugh!  So now I'm sounding very jaded ("Oh, just another citadel.") although I'd actually prefer to sound very cheap; but neither Brian or I were keen on spending 12-Euros per person for a cable car ride when we could take the stairs, and we certainly were not keen on spending 12-Euros per person to take the stairs!  And so, we designated this site a "tourist trap" and moved along with our city tour.  (Later that night we searched satellite Google maps attempting to find another trail that may have led us to the top.)The following morning was a bit dreary, but that didn't keep us from returning to the streets of Dinant.  We were on a mission to re-stock the fridge and along the way pick up one of Dinant's famous pastries, a Couque.  Errands can be such entertainment in new places!  Couque de Dinant, a curious concoction, is apparently dated from the 15th century when the town was besieged and the hungry inhabitants scrounged together all of their flour and honey to create a pastry.  The dough was pressed into molds and then baked.  Over time, the molds became more intricate and the pastries were not only edible but very detailed in design.  Today, the ingredients are exactly the same and Couques are baked in any design imaginable.  We sampled this treat with tea which was the perfect pairing for this dry, somewhat hard-somewhat chewy, bland with a hint of honey, Dinant's not-so-delicate delicacy.  Dinant was home to musician and instrument designer, Adolphe Sax, who during the 19th century invented the saxophone.  Sax's musical contribution is honored throughout the town and there is a museum dedicated to his life accomplishments.  Sax played the flute and clarinet, improved the design of the bass clarinet, and designed numerous valved brass instruments (saxotromba) in addition to the saxophone.  We honored Sax by selecting our favorite saxophones.