We saw some interesting 19th Century weapons including a 50-barrelled volley gun, an early predecessor to the machine gun which fired multiple shots simultaneously from each of the barrels. Invented by Belgian gunsmith Joseph Montigny, it looked like he strapped many guns together and caused them to all fire at once. Unlike a modern machine gun, this one could not support automatic loading and firing. There was a mobile anti-aircraft gun from World War I that sat on a horse-drawn carriage which made an illuminating comment on the changing nature of war at the time, given the juxtaposition of a weapon pulled by a horse fighting against the modern airplane. A recreation of a 1915 Mors-Minerva armoured car caught my eye, since it was painted bright green with what looked like a bright red/blue/white circular target painted on the side, almost as if to say “hit me here”. These early armoured cars were created by the Belgian luxury car company Minerva by adding armour and weapons to existing civilian vehicles. Not surprisingly, none of the original vehicles survived the war. The British Medium Mark A Whippet tank built a few years later in 1918 started to look more like what we expect from modern day tanks. Known for its relative mobility and speed, it was used to break through the enemy lines with fast mobile assaults before heavier tanks rolled in to finish the job.
Victor Horta Museum, had an old-fashioned glamorous air about it. Located in a former ironmonger’s shop and designed by a student of Victor Horta, it features an ornate iron staircase, leading up to a giant clock and long, narrow seating areas on each side, overlooking the ground floor. The walls of the second floor were lined with little wooden drawers that were once used by the ironmonger to store his nails and screws and other parts. We ordered drinks at an outdoor table at Le Forestier, which happened to be situated on a very steeply sloped cobblestoned street. It was quite the experience sitting at a table that was literally tilted at a noticeable angle and to be able to look up at the table to our left and down at the table to our right.
This marks the end of my blogs regarding our Belgian vacation including a 9 day home swap in Antwerp, overnight visits to Ghent and Bruges, and a 1 week stay in Brussels. We had a fabulous time, as there was so much to do and see and eat. If anyone we know gets inspired to visit Belgium, please bring us back more Neuhaus Incredible chocolates and a bag of pearl sugar.