We left the B&B to make our trek to the Ardennes forest, specifically around the towns of Foy (pronounced Fwa) and Bastogne. There’s a pretty substantial German cemetery outside of Foy, which we stopped at. Unlike the one we saw earlier, this one is a bit more chaotic in terms of how the markers are placed, and many of the plots hold up to 5 soldiers each. Also, names were inscribed on both sides of the markers, which I’ve never seen before. After that, we headed to where the 101st Airborne held the line during the Battle of the Bulge.
The forest is protected land, so nothing has really been touched at all, meaning that many of the foxholes that they used during those days in the Ardennes are stiil there. We roamed the forest for quite a while, and I walked all the way down to the end, which opens up overlooking the town of Foy, which is the field that the 101st ran across to finally liberate the town from the entrenched Germans. We even found a small memorial to the men of the 101st, so we lit a couple of candles while we were there. Seeing sites like this bring so much perspective to what I’ve only heard and read about in the past.
We then headed to Bastogne, and we had planned to stay there for the night at the Hotel de Sud, since Paul and Jeff had stayed there before and loved it. The museum was closed for a huge expansion, but the 101st Airborne memorial was a treat to see. The story of the Battle of the Bulge was told on the walls, and you could climb a spiral staircase to walk around on the top if it as well, giving a great view of the surrounding areas. We went into town and headed to the hotel to check in, and to meet Miss Isabel, who was 6 years old when the Nazis rolled-in to Bastogne. After walking around a bit, we found the Patton Memorial, which they’re now building apartments about 6 feet from it, which was a bit disheartening. The town has a lot of references to the battle though, and to their liberators, which they show a lot of love for even to this day.
Before dinner, we had been told by both Chris from La Chouffe and from Paul from Inter-Pol, to visit the guys at the La Trouffette, a small brewery not far from Bastogne. We explained who sent us, and the guys took nbo time to set us up with glasses full of their phenomenal beers! Seriously, these guys know what they are doing, and they told us that their “Christmas beer” would soon be coming to the states via a distributor in Austin, Texas (get on that Matt V!). It was also cool to be there, because we found out that the grounds we were on were involved in the WWII happenings, as the house was being used as a lookout post and lodging for the Germans. We were shown a section of the wall where a Sherman tank had blown a hole in it, from far out on the fields across from the home. It was said that the house burned for a month, and that the father had a picture that had been taken of the house by a P-38 on recon. Though since the house is built of stone and brick, it’s still there but had to be rebuilt on the inside.
We had dinner at Le Nuts (a reference to General McAuliffe’s response to the German demand of our “unconditional surrender” during Christmas 1944.) We had a humongous burger and a few beers, but at that point, I was pretty beered-out for the day. We retired to our room for the night to finish off the bottle of Calvados that we had.