The trip to Durbuy that I wrote about last week was actually a side excursion outside of the main trip that took place in Liège during my last weekend in Belgium. Seeing that Yi-Shiang and his family live in Liège, and that there are quite a few IDS-FunMat students in Liège, I figured I’d take the opportunity before I left Belgium to visit them. After all, it’s not so far from Louvain-la-Neuve (LLN), only 2 hours by train.
Ara and Alina found out that I was going to Liège, and decided to tag along as well. Then the group snowballed. One LLN IDS-FunMate joined after, and soon we almost had the entire crew from LLN going together, with a total of 8 people! The group would have a reunion (for some new guys, it’ll be the first gathering) with the people in Liège, about 7 of them. It certainly became a massive LLN exodus and a long awaited post-training school reunion!
I arrived in Liège on Saturday and stayed overnight while the other LLNers joined on Sunday. Yi-Shiang and Janet kindly hosted me in their home for the night. As they live on the 9th floor of a high-rise building, I was able to see the residential area of Liège from a high place (definitely included in the next “From high places” post 😉 )
On Sunday, the LLNer arrived in Liège and met up with the Liègeois at a Chinese restaurant recommended by Henu. As of now, we’re at the 4th class of IDS-FunMat students, me being in the first batch. Some of my classmates have already defended their theses and graduated, but some of these guys just started the program, so there was definitely a wide mixture of people! So we got 5 from the class of 2010, 3 from the class of 2011, 4 from the class of 2012, and 3 from the new class of 2013. From left to right, we have Peng, Lu, Maryna, Diana, Vusala, Gustavo, Ji (newest doctor 😉 ), Mathilde, Mathilde again, Begum, Ara, Victor, Annie (me), and Henu. Honorary mention to Yi-Shiang for taking this photo!
Other than yummy food, this “exchange” was an opportunity for old friends to rekindle and new students to get to know each other and mingle. Before and after lunch, the “locals” from Liège took the “tourists” from LLN on a tour around the city of Liège, passing by markets, bridges, and special landmarks. The fun parts were the conversations along the way, and it was especially valuable for me because I am the next to graduate. This would probably be my last time seeing many of these classmates for a long time, so I cherished these moments spent with them outside of the annual training school.
Before this trip, I’ve been to Liège twice, but only this time did I really see the city more thoroughly because as a group, we walked around various parts of the city. In fact, in the end we realized that we actually walked A LOT that day, partly due to slightly being lost while heading back to the train station at night, teehee! It’s all good fun though, better being lost with a big group of people than being alone.
In the late after the group stopped by the “Maison du Peket” for some peket. What is a peket? You ask. According to this page and descriptions from friends, peket is a type of alcohol popular in Liège, a “local version of gin (juniper spirit)…natural or flavored (lemon, strawberry, melon, violet, etc.)” At the Maison du Peket, it comes either in a large glass or in shots of 6 flavors…and there were definitely many flavors to choose from, so no need for repetition!
Another IDS group photo, Belgium version. Cheese…or shall we say fromage?! I always enjoy spending lovely time with lovely people, and the IDS group never ceases to know how to have fun. Thanks again to Yi-Shiang for taking this photo, and sorry Gustavo for not waiting for you to come back before taking it >_<
On the way to the train station (where we got lost along the way), the group passed by inconspicuous neighbourhoods in Liège that some of the local Liègeois students haven’t even visited. I always thought that Liège was pretty boring and that there’s nothing much to do there, but if I take a close look at Liège, it actually is a pretty cute and relaxing city. Hey, at least it’s bigger than Louvain-la-Neuve and a real city 😉
The most impressive landmark, for me, was the Montagne de Bueren, shown here. Apparently there are some 400 steps on this gigantic hill, which begs the questions…does anyone wanna go up there? 😉 Let’s just say that (1) we were short on time, (2) we had been walking for most of the afternoon and most of us were tired, and (3) no one was that ambitious.
Knowing that the stairs on Rampe du Val (the way I take from the lab back home in LLN most days) count 99 steps, that means getting to the top of Montagne de Bueren would take 4 times the effort. Uh, no thanks. I’m sure the view is awesome up there, but I wasn’t up for it that day. In fact, the view from the lower end was pretty awesome too. So we’ll just leave it at that. One thing is sure though – this place certainly crossed Liège off of the “boring cities” list 😛
This has got to be one of my all-time favourite IDS-FunMat group photos – Belgium FunMates reunite in Liège! Everyone is lookin’ fabulous 😉 I’m so glad this trip was such a grand success and that the “snowball” group effect worked out quite nicely. As I left Belgium a few days later, I said goodbye to these people, many with whom I’ve developed strong connections throughout these years in my Ph.D. Farewell, and see you later, sometime, somewhere!