Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ardennes is not Arduous

Driving in the Ardennes is bit bumpier.  The roads are still superior to Quebec's (not saying much), but the ones around the Ardennes do have some imperfections.  Still, it is a pleasure to drive while thinking "is this good or bad tank country?"  Anyhow, some observations along the way:
  1. My favorite observation is literally observing something.  To the right is an overpass, but rather than the bridge serving as an overpass for another road, it is a motel.  Yep, you can stay directly above the highway.  I have never seen that before.
  2. Other neat experience--this one gas station in Luxembourg--right on the highway--apparently gets lots of business since the gas taxes are lower there.  So, the way it works is that you pump the gas (figuring out foreign pumps was one of my fears when I thought about driving in Europe), and then you get back in your car and drive up to a toll booth kind of place, and then pay there.  Pretty civilized although it could create lines.
  3. Other funky gas observation--the Europeans tend to park on the wrong side of the machine and then try to pull the hose around/over the car.  I guess I see it once in a while in North America, but I saw it both times I gassed up thus far.
  4. One more: Texaco?  Yep, in addition to the expected Shell and BP, there are Texaco stations.  I don't remember the last time I saw one in the US.  Maybe when I was in Texas?
  5. The Battle of the Bulge was not the original name of the offensive, of course.  I never thought about it, but learned today that it was called the von Rundstedt Offensive after the Field Marshall--not because he initiated this plan (he didn't, he thought it was a bad idea) but because Hitler modeled the plan after the 1940 offensive that swept through France and the low countries.
  6. At the monument for the Battle of the Bulge, one of the plaques listed as one of the key participating units "TEAM SNAFU."  I thought I was on that team for about six years.

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