Matt has long been a friend, a coworker, a fellow political prognosticator, and (for Jim) a fellow Minnesotan. He’s always wanted to live abroad, so six months ago he started a job in London. Now he is enjoying frequent easy visits to various parts of Europe on weekends. So a couple months back he checked in with us — any weekends free in Europe this summer? We had this little weekend stop in Brussels, transitioning between other plans, so Matt bought train tickets and hopped over.
So we bounced around the usual baroque squares, towering gothic cathedrals, and shady parks that make up this glorious city. But when Matt suggested a trip down to the battlefields of Waterloo, we got a little more adventurous than we might have otherwise been on such a brief stop. And it was well worth it. It takes just 30 minutes on the train to get from central Brussels to the little town of Braine l’Alleud, then another 25 minutes of walking to get to the innocuous looking farms where world history took such a dramatic turn.
We are not the types who love lots of details about battles and flanks and cavalry and infantry. But the museum here did an outstanding job of describing the excitement and turmoil of post-revolutionary France, the void that brought Napoleon to power, the build up of his empire, and the desperation of the rest of Europe to take him down. After that, it also provided an absolutely mind-numbing amount of detail about the battles themselves, the people and equipment involved, etc., etc. Yes, I’ll admit I skimmed through that pretty fast. But all in all, this was a great stop.