When we researched our day out to Waterloo we came across a review which said “Only go if you really want to stand on a big hill and get a great view of lots of potato fields.” While there’s something to said for that point of view, I’m pleased we saw Waterloo.
Waterloo was preserved from not so long after the Battle. So the view now is roughly that seen by Napoleon and Wellington in 1815 – barring the 50,000-odd dead and wounded littering the fields after the Battle. The exception is Lion Hill which was built by the King of Orange after the battle. Not only is the hill huge but it was built by scraping away several smaller but significant topographic features.
Apparently Wellington visited Waterloo some years after the battle and was scandalised by the hill. Regardless it makes a great vantage point to view the battlefield from.
It’s entertaining to think how different Europe, and the World, would be if Napoleon hadn’t lost at Waterloo. He came within a whisker of winning and none of his other opponents had the strength and wherewithal of the Anglo-Dutch and Prussian alliance.
Even after having lost his innovations have lived on in Europe and the wold, and mostly for the better. As poor Callum is having to learn the absurd Imperial system in his US maths course, he’s certainly in a position to enthusiastically appreciate Napoleon’s introduction of the metric system.
It’s also interesting that we think of the victory as belonging to Wellington when it was clearly at least shared with Blucher, the less fortunately named, Prussian general. Not only did Blucher not really get the accolades that were his deserts, he did not, as far as I’m aware, get any footwear named after him.
Anyway, while Waterloo is an interesting enough place to visit, there’s really not a great deal there. There’s only so much you can do with an expanse of fields. So having some time to spare, we decided to visit Brussels and have a quick explore.
We don’t have a list of places we don’t like – or rather we didn’t before today. We now have a list with Brussels on it. I don’t remember the last time I visited a place with so much graffiti, dirt and a pervasive smell of urine in every doorway and corner. There’s a couple of relatively nicer streets around the main square that are absolutely packed with tourists, but that’s it. I guess when your main claim to fame is a small statue of a urinating boy, you start with the bar set fairly low.
A visit to Brussels certainly made us look upon Waterloo’s windswept potato fields with a great deal of fondness.