Us Seniors

Elder et Soeur Arn & Jody

Monday, September 8


Our daughter Susan wrote in her blog about relieving the stress in her life by taking some time to do things she enjoys amidst doing all the things she has to do. We had had a particularly stressful week this last week and really felt the need to unwind. So Saturday evening we decided to take her advice and walked to the "Grand Place" in Mons. This is the equivalent of the town square and is approximately 4 blocks from our apartment.
This is St. Elizabeth's church that we pass on our walk to the Place.

The Grand Place is a large square surrounded by the "Hotel de Ville" (city hall)

(Picture of Hotel de Ville on our the beginning of our evening out.)

(Hotel de Ville at the end of our evening.)
and Grand Theatre with restaurants the rest of the way around the square, all of which have outside seating with sun umbrellas over the tables - very European - and most relaxing to sit and eat and people watch.

The one in the middle is McDonald's. They must have a McDonald's in every Grand Place that we have seen in France and Belgium.
The people in Belgium and France love to take their dogs everywhere they go. This picture made us think, "Large dog - large hydrant."
This is not exactly an outside restaurant, but did catch our attention (and the attention of the two policemen who, when they saw us taking pictures, turned around to get in the shot). It is an escargot (snail) stand. Somehow escargot in a fancy French restaurant sounds like you might want to try some, but in a little shack in the town square?

One of the symbols of Mons is the little monkey which sits on the left side of the entrance to the Town Hall. Legend has it that this medieval monkey statue brings luck to those who caress him (with their left hand !). Famous people have paid him a visit in the past : Emperor Charles V of Habsburg, Emperor Napoleon of France and Emperor Hakyito of Japan, and now the Millers.He is sometimes called the Guard's Monkey. The statuette of wrought iron dates from the Middle Age and has always kept its origins secrets. Only today, we don't know if it was made for a tavern, for a child or anything else. Some speculate that it might have been a place to tie children, since it has a ring at the base, or it could have been the sign of a tavern, since there is an opening--covered over now--in the street for stairs descending below the building, which was once the entrance of a tavern. What ever the original purpose, everyone now says that if you rub the monkey's head with your left hand it will bring good luck.
Of course we did.

School started this past week and there were some strange characters running around the square. We speculate that they were going through some kind of an initiation.This cute girl gave everyone that she met a kiss on the cheek. She tried this with one young man and he grabbed her and gave her a "real" kiss. She was so flustered. She came away spitting out the kiss.

We saw a young man dressed like a baby, one like a chicken and this one dressed in a kilt andplaying the bag pipes (not very well). He had one of those hats on with the beer cans and tubes to drink from them. The girl with him, dressed like some kind of a bird, would announce something and then he would play.

There is a gazebo in the middle of the square. People were just hanging out and enjoying the evening.

Not far from the Grand Place is Mon's shopping area. There is a long street with shops on all sides. They were mostly shops like you would see in the malls, including this Levi's store.

The street to the right is the street with all the shops. On the left side of the building it says "Original Levis Store." We are not so sure if it is actually the original store or just that they sell original Levis. In the center is a fountain, which looks like it could have been to water horses at one time. This street is on the way to the shops.
Coming back up the street after we finished window shopping we came across this team of street sweepers. This is very common in Mons. They go together in groups and keep the streets clean and debris free. They look like they enjoy their job!

A few blocks from the Grand Place are some interesting buildings.
This is a huge church. We don't know the name of it yet, but plan to come back to visit it later.
The building on the right is completely covered with ivy. It is across the street from the church.
St. Germain Square is across from the street in the other direction. Isn't that a cool tree on the left.
The Belfry of Mons the Belfry, which is a good example of the Mons's baroque style. This stoned tower is 87 metres high. It overlooks the city and gives to Mons its particular silhouette. It contains, in the top, a 49 bells carillon. Victor Hugo described it as: "a coffepot flanked over four smaller teapots". It has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is therefore a protected and highly valued monument to the people of the city. The beautiful piece can be seen from across the city (it was the first thing we saw when we came to Mons - high above the trees) and was built in the 17th Century. It is thought to be the only Baroque belfry in the whole of Belgium.

After our sight seeing detour, we returned to the Grand Place and had a very nice dinner at "Chi-Chi's" Mexican restaurant. It wasn't exactly authentic, but very good. Arnold had a chicken wrap that had fried chicken nuggets in it. JoAnn had a chimicanga that was very close to what we could get at home. We think it is an American chain, as we thought we remembered seeing it at home. In the window were California and Utah license plates.
We enjoyed eating outside and watching the people. As soon as it got dark, several of the restaurants had musical groups that played in front of their restaurants. Sometimes it was a little chaotic with the different bands (and the bagpipe) playing at once, but most of the time it was so pleasant to listen to each band in turn. They set their bands up in little tents in front of the restaurants.

All in all it was such a mellow enjoyable time that we really felt recharged. Thanks, Susan, for reminding us to take the time to smell the chimichangas.


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