Saturday, July 11, 2015

OT: Europe Trip--Day 5--Liege-Bastogne

An early start for today. We headed down to the Hotel's breakfast room. Their restaurant is attached to the Hotel and is an old Nunnery. Brick arched ceilings sit over our heads as you enjoy your bacon and eggs and cafe au lait.

We headed out at 7:30. The car had GPS and I had the best navigator on the planet helping me find our way to La Gleize. La Gleize is as close to Liege as the Germans got during the Battle of the Bulge. This particular thrust was led by Obersturmbannf├╝hrer Jochaim Peiper. The German attack was fended off by the American 99th Infantry Division and by the Germans running out of gas.

The Germans had many of the new monster King Tiger tanks, which were gas hogs. Peiper complained that the road assigned to his Kampfgrupe was barely suitable for bicycles, but not for panzers. They basically abandoned their equipment there and retreated back toward German lines. The city of La Gleize kept one of the King Tigers and put it on display across the street from their Decembre 44 Museum.

 Sky poses in front of a King Tiger at La Gleize, Belgium.

We had arrived early and the Museum hadn't opened yet. We took a few pictures around the tank, investigated the church courtyard and cemetery across the street, then decided to head down to the Easy Company Memorial, located on the road between the cities of Bizory and Foy. 

The Memorial is easy to find, located just off the main road with a gravel parking lot. They also have a gravel path into the woods, part of the Ardenne Forest, for you to view the actual foxholes dug during the battle by members of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, E Company-the Easy Company made famous by the book and HBO series Band of Brothers.

 Sky poses in an Easy Company foxhole.

 The Ardenne Forest, viewed from below.

Sky stands between two foxholes.

I have a friend who's been there at sunrise and he remarked that it reminded him more as being like a cathedral with all the fog.

We left the foxholes and continued our trip down to the Bastogne Historical Center.  Their museum is very good, having the story told through the eyes of four participants in the Battle voiced by actors.

A Sherman Tank used in the Battle of the Bulge. 

Sky outside the Bastogne Museum.

We finished our visit to the Museum and decided to go get lunch. The city of Bastogne is kinda touristy, so we had to drive a while to find a parking spot. Walking a couple of blocks, Sky chose a pizza place where we had mini-pizzas and cokes for lunch.

Leaving Bastogne, Sky wanted to see the Museum in La Gleize. Retracing our journey, we arrived with an hour to visit before the Museum closed, it's a mom and pop museum. The museum had a great collection of both German and American items from the battle. I remarked that I'd seen one too many helmets with a hole in it. They had bits and pieces of tanks, uniforms, weapons medical equipment and personal gear. It took about 45 minutes to go thru the Museum.

Leaving La Gleize on those windy, twisty roads, we decided to head back to Liege for dinner.

Coming into La Gleize from the west.

This time it was a little easier to find the hotel. We parked on a side street, dumped our stuff and headed back to the city centre to have dinner at a pub I knew, Le Cecil. 

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