How to get to Waterloo

The tallest stairs in Belgium?
Napoleon has always been near and dear to my heart. A man who conquered a world for a single woman? What's more is this man was amazing, and despite his dark side, you can't doubt that he fundamentally changed the world, perhaps even for the better. So my admiration for the man has always led me to want to visit the place of his downfall: Waterloo. Having had visited Brussels twice before moving here, and never having visited it, I was certain I would this time.

Indeed I now understood the kind and gentle persuading by my friends that thwarted my visiting Waterloo in previous trips, as the journey isn't exactly a short one. By all means it's a day-trip by public transportation unless you own/rent a car. Ask most locals about Waterloo and they say "it's just a big hill", which of course is similar to the response when I first visited Stonehenge: "It's just a bunch of rocks." No you idiot, it's a bloody time-machine! Where in the world can you get closer to history then Napoleon's last stand? Where can you climb a mountain built upon the bodies of the dead from one of world's great historical moments and feel your spirit rise bit by bit as you scale the tragedy and victories under you feet?

Corn is now grown on the mass graves. Mmmm Tasty!
How to get to Waterloo?
Where? Not Brussels. Oh no, anyone tells you it's in Brussels they're wrong. In fact it's not even in the town of Waterloo (it's darn close though). No Waterloo, as in the place most westerners are looking for (that pyramid looking thing) is past Waterloo-ville on the outskirts of town. Past the Carrefour and the McDonalds (Napoleon is rolling over in his grave.) and down a freeway like road, then out in the middle of a cornfield. A bus-stop, covered with trees will be your stop on the 1.5 hour ride from Brussels  on bus 365A (Gare du Midi) or W (at 7.50 Euros for a day pass). It's really only 20 miles, but the number of stops they make to get there made me long for a plastic bag to place over my head and suffocate myself. Actually it's not too bad, but after adapting to the metro and trams of the inner city, taking the "country bus" (TEC) which only comes around every hour or so makes me contemplate our previous discussion on why so many people just don't want to take visitors to Waterloo.

Napoleon's death mask was one of the
coolest parts of the whole trip IMHO.
For me it was well worth the money and the time. While the attraction is a bit run-down and outdated, a good imagination will make you tear up with the overwhelming fact you are now part of history. Cost was 12 Euros for the VIP tour, or a-la-carte individual parts for less. Considering this was a chance of a lifetime, I gladly plopped my Monopoly money over to the nice cashier and began my afternoon of awesome.

There's a wax museum, and a panaramium (360 degree painting), a "hay ride" sort of tour through the battlefield, and of course the Waterloo challenge: a bazillion steps to the top of Butte du Lion that is not for the faint of heart. Reach the top and you'll be awarded with amazing views, and that sense of accomplishment in travel that only occurs when you overcome the battles of the world to arrive at where you're standing. At that moment, I knew what it felt like to win on a battlefield; my war: my life, is clearly one amazing gift given to me at the expense of so many sacrifices of the past.


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