NUTS weekend Bastogne

Our friends Tinka, Sven and Sander asked Angelica and me to join them to the NUTS weekend at the Bastogne Barracks. Bastogne is always worth a visit, and I would like to make you discover one big  seasonal event of Belgium in Bastogne. From our place in Hillensberg it’s only about a two hour drive. As a child my family went to Bastogne only once to do some shopping, as there’s a huge street market, where you can buy fresh food, fruits, vegetables, but also plants and flowers, biscuits and chocolates. Due to the tourists shopping or having dinner in Bastogne is not cheap ! Traditionally in mid-December Bastogne celebrates the commemoration of the Battle of the Bulge, which is the name of the horrible and frightful battles taking place in and around Bastogne, the Ardennes, northeast France and Luxembourg between December 16th 1944 and January 25th 1945. The second weekend of December is called  “Nuts weekend” at the “Bastogne Barracks”. There are some exhibitions to visit, as well as the vehicle exhibition and vehicle restoration centre.

After a two hours drive and a coffee pitstop we arrived in Bastogne where we found a parking lot very quickly. My friends had plans to have a 12 km walk in the fields around Bastogne but it was very, very cold and a bit windy so we changed plans and visited some venues in the village with 15.000 inhabitants. In this particular weekend they even organize convoys through Bastogne and to other sites in the surroundings and many enthusiasts dressed in historical uniforms are present with or without vehicle.

We visited several halls where different vehicles such as tanks and jeeps were renovated. There were also buildings where people had reconstructed daily life during a war. You could see a lot of original stuff from that time. There were even people who walked around in original army clothes, such as a NAZI pastor. We also saw children’s toys from that time such as Playmobil but with specific war puppets. Congrats to all those volunteers to do their very best to perform such a realistic presentation to show what the circumstances have been like.

After visiting the military venue we  headed to Bastogne centre to see the parade. In this parade some old soldiers were driven around in wheelchairs. These men must have been between 90-100 years old. The massive public along the road began to clap spontaneously for these war heroes. These men have ensured our liberation. The mental scars have dragged them all their lives. We had all the respect for these heroes. Then we looked for a local restaurant to eat something. In a shop we bought la Chouffe beer which we drank in our cozy AirBnb. We played card games the whole evening and it started snowing outside. What a great day in Bastogne!  Absolutely to be recommended and to notice in your agenda for the next years. 

Why is the weekend called: NUTS ?

In Bastogne the besieged garrison began to worry seriously about the slow advance of the 3rd army. General Anthony McAuliffe, the garrison commander, had confidently rejected an ultimatum by Heinrich von Lüttwitz on 22 December with a legendary short answer: “Nuts!“. The German general threatened to throw the city into ruins if the 101st Airborne Division did not surrender “honorably” within two hours. The American General McAuliffe found the ultimatum utterly absurd, for he was convinced that his troops were winning this battle against the Germans and he was not worried about the fact that they were surrounded.

Where to stay ?

Check this lovely, cozy Airbnb and get a local bottle of beer for free when you book this place: https://abnb.me/pDdiUJ6kDS

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Traces of World War I

World war I. The Great War. Austria-Hungary was not only one country in 1914 but also the largest country in Europe. When they talk in France and Belgium about le Grande Guerre, they mean WW1 and not WW2. Personally, I think WW1 is a much more interesting war than WW2. In those days people thought differently about wars. Wars were necessary at the time to “liberate” a country from rabble, unemployed and dissenters. To make men out of boys, to make the economy grow after the war, to make people feel that they need a government. Volunteers were fighting at the registration desk at the time and walked home crying when the train to the front was full. This war should be romantic.Yesterday we visited a part of the front line (Traces of WW1). We drove over deserted roads to villages that were wiped out, where only the foundations are still standing. The landscape looks different here than in the rest of France. Everywhere you see holes and bumps of up to 25 meters deep. That is a result of the 24-month bombing of this environment. For example, 10,000 soldiers lost their lives in a battle for just a little mountain. Many soldiers suffered from “shellshock”, a mysterious mental illness as a result of the continuously pressure waves of bomb attacks. These people were not seen as sick but as deserters. After their treatment, they were executed. See video below for shellshock.

 

Quantum of Solace James Bond

On my way from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bari,Italy I was planning my route to Craco. Craco is one of the 20.000 ghosttowns in Italy. First inhabited by Greeks during the 6th century AD, Craco was built 40 km (25 miles) inland and on a very steep summit for defensive reasons.IMG_7260.jpg Schermafbeelding 2018-10-08 om 22.42.37.pngDuring the following centuries, the town went under feudal control. A university was established in 1276 and by 1561 it had reached a population of 2,590 people.IMG_7271.jpgIMG_7276.jpgBy 1799, the townspeople overthrew the feudal system and Craco became an independent municipality and later, part of the Kingdom of Italy.IMG_7272.jpgSoon though, the town started facing geological problems. By the beginning of the 20th century, hundreds of inhabidants had emigrated to north America due to poor agricultural conditions. IMG_7268.jpgA series of earthquakes and landslides followed in the next decades and in 1963 the entire population of 1,800 residents moved to Craco Peschiera for safety reasons. IMG_7270.jpg

 

The image of Craco has been used over the years in various films as a background setting; Quantum of Solace and The Passion of the Christ, being two of them. IMG_7253.jpgAfter shooting some pictures I wanted to leave the ghosttown at 18:00h but my car did not start. IMG_7299.jpgI had to call the emergency service and they arrived at night 01:30am (!). I was getting  hungry. IMG_7314.jpgOnly a few houses were still inhabited. Mainly by older residents. An old woman offered me a piece of pizza with a can of beer. IMG_7306.jpgI ate the piece of pizza on the curb. I was very grateful to the old woman and she waved me out once I was in the tug-off car towards Matera.IMG_7302.jpgIMG_7299.jpg

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Movielocation: the Passion of the Christ (picture by Levi Hartmann)

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Movielocation: Quantum of Solace James Bond (picture by Levi Hartmann)

The Passion of the Christ

On my way from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bari,Italy I was planning my route to Craco. Craco is one of the 20.000 ghosttowns in Italy. First inhabited by Greeks during the 6th century AD, Craco was built 40 km (25 miles) inland and on a very steep summit for defensive reasons.IMG_7260.jpg Schermafbeelding 2018-10-08 om 22.42.37.pngDuring the following centuries, the town went under feudal control. A university was established in 1276 and by 1561 it had reached a population of 2,590 people.IMG_7271.jpgIMG_7276.jpgBy 1799, the townspeople overthrew the feudal system and Craco became an independent municipality and later, part of the Kingdom of Italy.IMG_7272.jpgSoon though, the town started facing geological problems. By the beginning of the 20th century, hundreds of inhabidants had emigrated to north America due to poor agricultural conditions. IMG_7268.jpgA series of earthquakes and landslides followed in the next decades and in 1963 the entire population of 1,800 residents moved to Craco Peschiera for safety reasons. IMG_7270.jpg

 

The image of Craco has been used over the years in various films as a background setting; Quantum of Solace and The Passion of the Christ, being two of them. IMG_7253.jpgAfter shooting some pictures I wanted to leave the ghosttown at 18:00h but my car did not start. IMG_7299.jpgI had to call the emergency service and they arrived at night 01:30am (!). I was getting  hungry. IMG_7314.jpgOnly a few houses were still inhabited. Mainly by older residents. An old woman offered me a piece of pizza with a can of beer. IMG_7306.jpgI ate the piece of pizza on the curb. I was very grateful to the old woman and she waved me out once I was in the tug-off car towards Matera.IMG_7302.jpgIMG_7299.jpg

4
Movielocation: the Passion of the Christ (picture by Levi Hartmann)

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Movielocation: Quantum of Solace James Bond (picture by Levi Hartmann)

Craco, a ghosttown of the middle ages

On my way from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bari,Italy I was planning my route to Craco. Craco is one of the 20.000 ghosttowns in Italy. First inhabited by Greeks during the 6th century AD, Craco was built 40 km (25 miles) inland and on a very steep summit for defensive reasons.IMG_7260.jpg Schermafbeelding 2018-10-08 om 22.42.37.pngDuring the following centuries, the town went under feudal control. A university was established in 1276 and by 1561 it had reached a population of 2,590 people.IMG_7271.jpgIMG_7276.jpgBy 1799, the townspeople overthrew the feudal system and Craco became an independent municipality and later, part of the Kingdom of Italy.IMG_7272.jpgSoon though, the town started facing geological problems. By the beginning of the 20th century, hundreds of inhabidants had emigrated to north America due to poor agricultural conditions. IMG_7268.jpgA series of earthquakes and landslides followed in the next decades and in 1963 the entire population of 1,800 residents moved to Craco Peschiera for safety reasons. IMG_7270.jpg

 

The image of Craco has been used over the years in various films as a background setting; Quantum of Solace and The Passion of the Christ, being two of them. IMG_7253.jpgAfter shooting some pictures I wanted to leave the ghosttown at 18:00h but my car did not start. IMG_7299.jpgI had to call the emergency service and they arrived at night 01:30am (!). I was getting  hungry. IMG_7314.jpgOnly a few houses were still inhabited. Mainly by older residents. An old woman offered me a piece of pizza with a can of beer. IMG_7306.jpgI ate the piece of pizza on the curb. I was very grateful to the old woman and she waved me out once I was in the tug-off car towards Matera.IMG_7302.jpgIMG_7299.jpg

4
Movielocation: the Passion of the Christ (picture by Levi Hartmann)

3
Movielocation: Quantum of Solace James Bond (picture by Levi Hartmann)

Craco, a ghosttown of the middle ages

On my way from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bari,Italy I was planning my route to Craco. Craco is one of the 20.000 ghosttowns in Italy. First inhabited by Greeks during the 6th century AD, Craco was built 40 km (25 miles) inland and on a very steep summit for defensive reasons.IMG_7260.jpg Schermafbeelding 2018-10-08 om 22.42.37.pngDuring the following centuries, the town went under feudal control. A university was established in 1276 and by 1561 it had reached a population of 2,590 people.IMG_7271.jpgIMG_7276.jpgBy 1799, the townspeople overthrew the feudal system and Craco became an independent municipality and later, part of the Kingdom of Italy.IMG_7272.jpgSoon though, the town started facing geological problems. By the beginning of the 20th century, hundreds of inhabidants had emigrated to north America due to poor agricultural conditions. IMG_7268.jpgA series of earthquakes and landslides followed in the next decades and in 1963 the entire population of 1,800 residents moved to Craco Peschiera for safety reasons. IMG_7270.jpg

 

The image of Craco has been used over the years in various films as a background setting; Quantum of Solace and The Passion of the Christ, being two of them. IMG_7253.jpgAfter shooting some pictures I wanted to leave the ghosttown at 18:00h but my car did not start. IMG_7299.jpgI had to call the emergency service and they arrived at night 01:30am (!). I was getting  hungry. IMG_7314.jpgOnly a few houses were still inhabited. Mainly by older residents. An old woman offered me a piece of pizza with a can of beer. IMG_7306.jpgI ate the piece of pizza on the curb. I was very grateful to the old woman and she waved me out once I was in the tug-off car towards Matera.IMG_7302.jpgIMG_7299.jpg

4
Movielocation: the Passion of the Christ (picture by Levi Hartmann)

3
Movielocation: Quantum of Solace James Bond (picture by Levi Hartmann)

Craco, a ghosttown of the middle ages

On my way from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bari,Italy I was planning my route to Craco. Craco is one of the 20.000 ghosttowns in Italy. First inhabited by Greeks during the 6th century AD, Craco was built 40 km (25 miles) inland and on a very steep summit for defensive reasons.IMG_7260.jpg Schermafbeelding 2018-10-08 om 22.42.37.pngDuring the following centuries, the town went under feudal control. A university was established in 1276 and by 1561 it had reached a population of 2,590 people.IMG_7271.jpgIMG_7276.jpgBy 1799, the townspeople overthrew the feudal system and Craco became an independent municipality and later, part of the Kingdom of Italy.IMG_7272.jpgSoon though, the town started facing geological problems. By the beginning of the 20th century, hundreds of inhabidants had emigrated to north America due to poor agricultural conditions. IMG_7268.jpgA series of earthquakes and landslides followed in the next decades and in 1963 the entire population of 1,800 residents moved to Craco Peschiera for safety reasons. IMG_7270.jpg

 

The image of Craco has been used over the years in various films as a background setting; Quantum of Solace and The Passion of the Christ, being two of them. IMG_7253.jpgAfter shooting some pictures I wanted to leave the ghosttown at 18:00h but my car did not start. IMG_7299.jpgI had to call the emergency service and they arrived at night 01:30am (!). I was getting  hungry. IMG_7314.jpgOnly a few houses were still inhabited. Mainly by older residents. An old woman offered me a piece of pizza with a can of beer. IMG_7306.jpgI ate the piece of pizza on the curb. I was very grateful to the old woman and she waved me out once I was in the tug-off car towards Matera.IMG_7302.jpgIMG_7299.jpg

4
Movielocation: the Passion of the Christ (picture by Levi Hartmann)

3
Movielocation: Quantum of Solace James Bond (picture by Levi Hartmann)