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12 August 2011

A week in Mons

Actually, not even a week yet. I arrived on Monday and it is now Friday evening. I'd say my first impressions of Mons were pretty much correct - it is small and quiet. Despite that, it does seem to have many more shops than Galway. Everything is old, the streets are cobbled, which makes walking places a bit more of a challenge than usual. Everybody speaks French, which I don't speak a word of, so for me at least things are very quiet. I am getting a lot of work done, which is good. I found a secondhand bookstore which had English books, which is also good. Now it is the beginning of a three day weekend and I must entertain myself somehow. I think I have already seen the sights of Mons - there are not many of them. Perhaps there are museums or something, but I'm not really interested in that. So tomorrow I will stay in Mons, have a relaxing day, see if there is anything more to see, and find the train station to ask about trains and busses. There is a wildlife park, I'm not sure how far away, but I would like to see it. Then there are other towns and cities, so I have made a small list. For this weekend I think I will try to see a small town called Dinant, which has a citadel and some big caves, and there is a big castle which is apparently nearby - I'm not so sure that it is so close but we will see. I hope that absolutely everything will not be closed due to the long weekend. It has been incredibly difficult to find postcards in Mons and what I did find were out-of-date and ugly. I hope that in another place there will be more for a tourist like myself.

Today my computer is acting up, and doesn't seem to be very happy. Especialy the mouse-clicker button. So now that I have finally managed to upload some photos of Mons I am not going to attempt to change the order of them at all. I will just leave them as they are. Here are three things that appear to be most of what Mons has to offer. There are also a lot of old buildings, but after a while they all look the same, a lot of cobbled streets, also all look the same and a lot of churches with towers and dome-like tops. Maybe the lack of tourist-attracting variety explains the lack of good postcards? Anyway, this first photo is the belfry, which is the only baroque belfry in Belgium and has 49 bells (they sound quite nice, they all chime separately, much better than Galway Cathedral's recording of bell chimes).


The belfry is on a hill and is the highest point in Mons. From the gardens around it you can see over the city. Like most cities, it is not a very exciting view. Just rooftops. Old, interesting rooftops, but still quite dull. 


Very near to the belfry is the next big monument of Mons, the St Waltrude Collegiate Church. I don't mean to sound dismissive, but really it is just another church. I think I need to get out into the countryside instead because all these churches and cathedrals no longer interest me. It is a big stone building, it has some pretty details, and apparently the oldest stained glass windows. I'm am not sure what exactly they are older than. The little tourism guide I was given is not overly specific. It is a gothic style church, and inside are many paintings and statues, which don't generally make a lot of impression on me if there is nobody around to explain the significance of it all. It was mostly like other churches I have been in, but sort of lighter and airier, not so tall and quiet and dim.


I'm not sure if this was the front or the back of the church. It was hard to say, there were doors on three sides. I think it is the side, actually, that you enter from the side and not the front in general for some reason because the front door seemed somewhat perpetually closed. The back of the church is nicer than the front, it is rounded and has lots of bits. The front is just big and flat and square.


So from near the church we have another view of the belfy, sticking up above the other buildings. It is quite a nice tower really, and has shiny gold bits on the top.


Finally we have the last big thing, the city hall in what is called the Grand Place, like the square in the city centre. It is a big cobbled area with a lot of cafes and these big old buildings that make up all the official parts of the city. The town hall itself is the nicest part. I have seen pictures of the Grand Place with big flowering gardens in front of the town hall but I guess they must not have been permanent. Would make for a nicer picture. There is a fountain, the type that is just holes in the ground that water comes shooting out of, and there were children playing in it then lying on the warm cobblestones to dry. There are plenty of trees all around the city, which is nice. It is lucky I went out in the sun to take photos though because now it is overcast and rainy.


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