Like Vero and company, we also spent some time in the Ardennes this summer, but we didn’t hit quite the level of adventurousness that they did. We did, however, engage our nerdiness with a little space exploration, some book shopping, and a very little light hiking.
The Euro Space Center was something we learned about as we drove past on the highway and thought “That looks fancy!” (We’re organized like that–our whole trip was a last-minute, “Oops, we didn’t vacation this summer!” deal.) So staying at a campground during a week of the pouringest rain we’ve seen here in Belgium, we headed back to check out the most extensive indoor activity we’d seen.
The center was a worthwhile trip, and our kids have been begging to return. The moon walk simulator was a huge hit with my six-year-old, and it was actually fun to watch for the rest of us earth-gravity-bound chumps. Our next stop was the museum, which was an impressive group tour with headphones in our respective languages. In several different rooms we learned about the history of theories of the solar system, space exploration (with many European tidbits that we Americans tend to overlook), astronaut training, and rocket design. It was engaging and had enough impressive effects to capture the interest of our little ones that it was not a complete disaster–and that is often the best we can say about guided tours. (The attendant kindly let us take our stroller in, but there are many stairs and I would not describe the museum as stroller-friendly.)
We visited the planetarium, which wowed our kids but I can’t say much about because it proved to be an excellent place for a nap, then hit up the snack bar and space exploration-inspired outdoor playground (very cool; not toddler-friendly). Then we were on our way to see what other diversions the area had to offer.
The town of Redu is ten minutes down the road from the ESC. It proudly bills itself as a Village du Livre—that is, a place with many book shops. There are at least seventeen, and as we strolled the pleasant streets we popped into a few. Some are new, some are used, some specialize in rare books, some have English or German sections along with the usual French and Dutch, and some are entirely for B.D.s (comics). Though it’s a tiny hamlet, there are several restaurant options, at one of which we had a delicious meal, and also a lovely playground at the center of town.
Leaving town with heavier backpacks and full bellies, we were taking the scenic route back to our campground when we saw intriguing signs to La Roche aux Chevaux (the rock of the horses). We parked in a pull-off and walked up the inviting path—mostly flat with a gentle uphill, through birdsong-filled woods with plenty of pinecones, sticks, and rocks to be collected. In what would be a ten-minute walk for normal grown-ups–about twenty for us with a two-year-old–we reached the slightly overgrown and very dangerous rock and its view over the little Lomme river valley. The view was not much, but the walk was so pleasant that I would highly recommend it for hikers of all ages and abilities. The trees towered, the sunshine was dappled, and we could smell nothing but loamy soil and hear nothing but birds.
We split these outings into two days–see above note about our disorganization–but they would easily fit into one. Without trying very hard, we’d discovered a little something for everyone all within a stone’s throw of this area of Luxembourg Province. We can’t wait to see what we’ll find in our next visit—or maybe we’ll just go back and do the exact same things again. Either way, we’ll apparently all be quite happy.
Websites: Euro Space Center – http://www.eurospacecenter.be/esc/index.php/en/
Euro Space Center – 1, rue Devant les Hêtres • B-6890 Transinne
Redu – 6890 Libin
La Roche aux Chevaux – Take Rue de la Prairie south from Redu and you will see signs to it.