Saturday, September 8, 2018

Leuven, Belgium Sept 6, 2018, George M

A giant beetle impaled on a 20+ meter high needle in the center of the square in front of the library


Outbound to Leuven & Kiel, Day 9 of 24, September 6, 2018
By:  George M

Europe has been in a bad drought for the past two months. We have had a couple of days of heavy downpours, and we were happy for the hosts. Most of the rain has been when we have been indoors but Lynn and I were exposed yesterday afternoon. HiRo, our hostess, organized a sushi party last night where we all learned to make sushi rolls. Pete did particularly well making a roll. HiRo invited some friends, Yoko, a Japanese woman married to a German, an Indian man married to a Spaniard with their 16 year old quadrilingual daughter. It was a great time.

Today we were up at 7 AM for 7:30 breakfast in order to take the bus to the Central station. Unfortunately the bus stopped about 5 stops before the central station so we had to get off and catch the next bus. Some poor Japanese guy on the bus spoke no French and only a little English so he did not understand when the bus driver told us all to get off. He was going to the train station so we dragged him along with us.

Navigating the train system at Central Station was interesting because we arrived in time to try to catch the 9:04 train which was running quite late. It appeared that this was going to be a local train so we caught the later IC nonstop train to Leuven .Upon arrival we walked to the University library where we met the others.
Leuven University Library

We walked about 5 miles around town led by various members, Rick, Dany and Grit. The University library is enormous and rebuilt after WW2 with donations from around the world, significantly from USA sources, including the American Association of University Women (AAUW, see photo).

Some of FFSAc's AAUW members in front of AAUW plaque on library : Lynn M, Mona M, Judy M, PJ M, Marty M 

There are thank-you stones to the various organizations around the front entrance. In front of the library is a new thin obelisk with a large bug impaled on it  (top photo)

Leuven is a college town, population ~100,000. When they start school in mid-September the population increases by about 40-50,000. Perhaps that is why Leuven is famous for its beer, in particular Stella Artois. The med school has a fine international reputation.
Leuven Stadhuis (city hall) and St. Pieterskerk (from the 1420's)

The City Hall is enormous!
Leuven Stadthuis

We walked by it as we will have a reception there at 5 PM and entered the Collegiate St Peter's church which was under restoration. We sat briefly to enjoy the organ music.

St. Pieterskerk organist practicing

We were led past Salon Georges, apparently well known to Leuven students, allegedly where many received their first kiss. Nice lunch of chicken, croquettes, and salad before we walked to St Anthony chapel where father Damian (of Molokai leprosy fame) is buried; he was from this area.

Father Damian's resting place

Then a walk to the Beguinage of Leuven where, as far back as the 1200's women who were widows or single could elect to live together protected first by the church, later by the city. The tradition continued until the last one died in the 1960's. The university has bought the whole large property which they now use for some student housing and visiting professors.

Reception and meeting at with a Leuven Alderman 
Reception in the Leuven Stadhuis cellar

At 5 PM we gathered for a reception given by the town with soft drinks and Stella Artois beer variants. We then headed home by train and bus prior to taking our Hostess to dinner.

In Friendship and Peace

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