Today we woke up to fresh sweets from the bakery and the hospitality. Aftger a fire that occured one year ago, Valerie and Anne are working with their contractor to rebuild their home. As a result, we dragged the one present table onto the back patio for a relaxing breakfast in the sun. We ate large pieces of break with different types of soft cheeses and salami as well as sweet breads filled with apples. All while watching their two children, Rafael and Lola (3 and 5 yrs. old) play in the backyard. Valerie explained to us that they have been raised in the city so when they get out to the village, they are very excited to play in the dirt!
After breakfast, we pack up and head off to Vodelee where most of the history has taken place. Ten minutes through the windy, green countryside we arrive in Vodelee at Anna and Fredy's house (Valerie's aunt and uncle). Here they greet us with warm smiles and tell us what they have in-store for today (well they tell Valerie in French and she translates all of it for us
So, all geared up for a hike, we head into the woods on the very same trail that Valerie's grandparent's used every day to bring food to Kristy's grandfather, Douglas, and the three other men who were in the cave with him. In order to keep from creating a trail, they had to go a different way each time.
The trail started out mellow, winding through the woods and over a creek, then it abruptly shot uphill, where you are looking for trees to hold onto for support. The cave itself is not high enough to stand-up in and originally was not big enough for three men, but Valerie's grandfather chiseled away at it to make room. The opening is also much more accessible than before.
It used to be quite small and when the three men went inside, they would cover it with rocks so no one knew it existed. The men spent a total of about five months hiding in the cave, but at times when it was not too dangerous, the would creep down to a nearby water source--where we actually drank water out of today--or go play cards in the backroom of a nearby mill.
And at times they were also moved to the mill if too many Germans were patrolling the woods. After visiting and taking pictures of the cave, we walked down around to the mill which is now a beautiful home and inn. It was still hard to get over imagining living in the cave for five months, I barely do well camping for a few days!
We made a full circle on our hike back to the water source where Valerie's brother, Robert, was starting a BBQ. Robert is very interested with everything to do with WWII that occurred in that region and actually owns a Jeep that was originally registered in 1942! We all sat down to a long at a long table, nicely set with dishes and wine glasses--no paper plates and red cups here! WE enjoyed great barbecued meats, tomatoes, cucumber salad, potatoes, other salads and wine and champagne.
At this point, feeling a little fuzzy from the heat, hiking, lots of food and wine, I went down with the kids to wash off the plates in the spring while Kristy took pictures of us splashing around. And after the kids though it was really funny to splash Kristy with water. She ended up soaked but with the heat, she said it felt great. Kristy you're too kind.
Kristy in turn got a nice air dry when kids and all piled into the army jeep and Robert gave us a "Mr. Toad's wild ride" tour of the Vodelee area and surroundings. Kristy and I sat on the edges acting as guardians against rogue branches as we flew through the woods. No worries family and friends, he seemed to be quite and expert at this and we all came out unscathed!
After a long, long day and many tired children, we all headed back to our respective homes. I ended up taking a nice long nap, because apparently there are village tent parties and we would be attending one tonight.
So village tent parties pretty much sums up the experience--a giant white tent in the middle of a village, one dj, lots of bad techno music and cocktails. Apparently each month there is one of these parties in a differently village, so if one really wanted to, he or she could go village hopping to find "the latest disco scene"
Oh so tired by the end of the night I was happy to see the bed in our guest house, but reluctant to leave it the next morning.
The next morning held in store another day of being celebrities of the village with an entourage of three cars as we drove from Vodelee to Saint Gerard, another nearby village, which was were Douglas' plane crashed. Here we were greeted by a man who also spends quite a bit of time researching the history of WWII in Belgium. We drank some more champagne and were shown a model plane he built that looked like the one that crashed in the nearby field. We were also shown documents of the crash, pictures and then shown out to the field where many small pieces and bullets had been found from multiple crashes that occurred here.
Unfortunately or time began to quickly run out and we needed to head back to Karlsruhe. So we tearfully said our goodbyes to the family and couldn't thank them enough for all they did. And soon after began the drive, which fortunately this time only took five hours!