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304 travelers at this place:

  • Day13

    Brugge: Beer, waffles and chocolate!

    September 15, 2016 in Belgium

    What more could anyone want from a city that has the best beer, waffles and chocolate?! This was our second visit to Brugge and it was just as great as we remembered. We love this city not only for its food and drink but also because of its quaint feel and charming character. We'd highly recommend a visit or next time we plan to go back we'll let you know!

  • Day509


    November 17, 2017 in Belgium

    The cold, often wet weather and limited daylight hours mean we are not cycling, canoeing or walking as much as we would otherwise. However, we are really enjoying the beautiful scenery in the Belgian Ardennes. The season shows the deciduous woodlands off beautifully and the winding river valleys are a real treat for the eyes.

    It was in Poupehan, a village in one of these valleys that we stayed the night. There was a free stopover with facilities on the flood plain, along from a football pitch and clubhouse. Grass grew all around the hardstanding we were parked on and swathes of waxy yellow, orange and brown Plane leaves covered both. If the river hadn't been in flood we would have made use of the nearby launch ramp, but the water looked a bit too fast to be anything but a struggle, so we decided to go for a walk instead. An information board showed several trails in the vicinity, of which we chose the shortest and easiest. The 5km route took us up through the quiet, grey village, past an empty pub and restaurant then right at a small church. We climbed a steep muddy forestry track into the woods. It was very well signed and several benches were conveniently positioned for you to rest and take in a view. After an hour or so we emerged at a viewpoint affording us a far reaching vista over the wooded river valley. The area was actively forested and the canopy of autumnal indigenous trees was interspersed with green blocks of pines. Making our way home, dusk began to close in, but we felt happy knowing we'd made good use of what daylight there was.

    It had been such a nice stopover, we felt we should make an effort to spend some money in the village. Friday was our day to have lunch out, so we went to see if the Taverne la Vallee pub served food. Stepping in to the small bar area there was a smell of stale smoke, despite the No Smoking sign on the door. There were no ashtrays and nobody with a cigarette so we had a look at the little menu out on a table. It listed a range of sandwiches, fries and simple dishes, but after a few minutes the greasy haired barman told us they didn't have any food. Ok, maybe it was for the best we just had a drink then went back to the van for lunch...

    After an in depth search of the fridge the barman brought out a bottle of the Trappist beer Vicky had chosen, but couldn't find the ale Will wanted. Never mind, there were still plenty to choose from. We sat at a table for two by the window, whose panes had small lumps of mould growing on them. Our drinks were brought on a tray along with their dedicated glasses and a small bowl of stale nuts. Vicky's eagle eyes soon spotted some brown specks in her glass which she tried, but failed to rub away or scrape off with her nail. When picking up her beer, she found the label had mildew on it. The Tavern la Vallee certainly wouldn't have passed any health and safety checks but we weren't in the mood for complaining and the beer itself was delicious. At over 8% it quickly lifted our moods and helped us view the fact that the brown specs were still on Vicky's glass when it was drained, as being a good thing! 😂
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  • Day511

    Merbes-le-Château on the River Sambre

    November 19, 2017 in Belgium

    It was Sunday and after a chilly night, the sun was shining in a clear blue sky. We have been doing short hops and one night stays on a route Will has programmed in to the sat nav, ending at Calais ferry port! Soon after setting off we spotted a car wash with an extra high bay. We'd been looking out for one of these since Sweden as the van had become filthy. When getting our Euros ready, we found the previous user had left €4 worth of tokens in the slot! It worked very well and we proudly drove a glistening Martha Motorhome away.

    It wasn't just the sun making today's spot look very attractive. The medium sized car park was by the side of the slow moving River Sambre. It had a picnic table, a launch ramp and a good area of grass for Poppy to get her nose stuck in to. Fishers cast their lines, people cycled and someone even came and took their boat for a trip. There were only a couple of cars whose occupants were drinking, littering and generally being loud and lairy. We were grateful they didn't stay for too long. The only other noisy neighbours were a gaggle of domesticated geese, two of which we found out to be Chinese Geese, with a distinctive basal knob (bumpy thing) above their bill and a wattle hanging down from their throat.

    We spent a bit of time catching up with friends and family on Skype and the phone. Vicky packed Will off in the canoe while she transferred some clothes and equipment to new storage boxes we'd bought for the boot, the old ones having become cracked and unusable. She then got stuck in to making Christmas cards, meaning we both had a very enjoyable afternoon.
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  • Day512

    Tournai, Poppy gets her passport ready

    November 20, 2017 in Belgium

    Tournai is a large and busy town. It offered us a free aire to one side of a spacious, crater pocked car park used by lorries. A few hundred meters away was a football pitch and in the opposite direction ran a fast and noisy road. The hum of engines wasn't too bad, but we drowned it out completely by listening to a Belgian music station on the radio. We like to hear foreign languages spoken, even if we can't understand what is being said. All of the countries we've visited so far have played English language songs and most have interspersed their commentary with the odd English phrase.

    In contrast to the fine bright day we'd had yesterday, today delivered grey skies and sheet rain. Will suprised Vicky by volunteering to go out and get bread and when we'd finished eating, Vicky called a nearby vets to get Poppy's passport sorted. We were still in a French speaking area and Vicky got a real kick out of being able to arrange the whole thing in French. It was a bit nerve wracking because it is so much more difficult over the phone when there are no contextual clues, gestures or facial expressions to help.

    At 11:30am we drove Poppy to the clinic. Now she is old she becomes very nervous around other dogs and she has never enjoyed people being too close to her, unless it is on her terms. We were therefore keeping our fingers crossed that it would be a good experience for her. Fortunately there were no other animals to be seen and we'd hardly sat down in the waiting area when the vet called us in. After Poppy had gone on the scales, Vicky stealthily fed her the worming tablet between two treats and the vet gave her a checkup. Within 10 minutes of entering, the passport was stamped, we had paid and were out of the door with a very relieved Poppy! Success!

    N.B. For anyone intersted the vet we used was Dr Claudine Peeters at:
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  • Day506

    Return to Houffalize, 500 Days Abroad!

    November 14, 2017 in Belgium

    It was only from looking at uploaded footprints on this blog we realised that on the 12th of November we had been on the European continent continuously for a full 500 days! Vicky especially is feeling like she is in limbo, wanting to live in and explore Belgium but perched on the edge of our return visit home, with all the thoughts of this occupying her mind. We are therefore really glad we took the chance to spend such a long time away and immerse ourselves in the 'here and now' of living in each country.

    The road to our next stopover took us up along a ridge of high land. As we climbed through thick mist, we began to see patches of snow on the verges! It became gradually thicker until it spread over the fields, with only tussocks of grass sticking through. Winter has really arrived and with Vicky getting stuck in to Christmas crochet, we are beginning to feel festive!

    It wasn't long before we dropped down below the snow line. After a while winding our way through the beautiful Ardennes countryside we arrived at the aire in Houffalize, the first place we'd stayed after arriving in Belgium. It was a secluded stopover and there were several nice little shops in town that we wanted to visit. Soon after arriving, Vicky took it upon herself to sort through the boot, putting aside a few things we could afford to do without, in order to clear space and reduce the weight on our straining suspension. We knew we'd want to stock up on drinks and a few xmas presents to take back to the UK and this seemed an ideal time for a clearout.

    Amid the chaos, Will slipped out to the charcuterie where we'd previously bought Ardennes paté and salami. We'd asked then whether they had anything organic but after being told they didn't, Will decided not to ask again. Imagine his suprise when the assistant remembered him and began telling him about the organic deer paté they had made! Of course he bought some and came back to the van marvelling at the personalised service and positive response to our enquiry. This is one of the reasons we like shopping at small independent businesses!

    On the first morning we took a walk over the nearby river and up the forested hill opposite, from where we could look down on the town. Skirting round, we approached the highstreet from the far end. Seeing a rather posh bakery and confectioner, we bought a baguette and selection of chocolates. The person serving put on his dedicated white gloves and picked out each chocolate we chose individually. They were all placed in a little box and tied with a ribbon, both of which were specially designed for the shop.

    It was good to return to this little town, there was more to discover than we had managed to get round to on our previous visit and when we travel as strangers so much of the time, it was lovely to be remembered by the charcuterie assistant.
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  • Day508


    November 16, 2017 in Belgium

    Leaving behind some rather full bins from Vicky's clearout at Houffalize, we travelled on to the aire by the fire station at Arlon. Only 2 out of the 5 bays were empty and soon after we arrived, the 5th was filled so we were lucky to get a spot. Arlon's aire was one of a number in Belgium that offer free electricity. Very handy, especially in winter when it means we can use the electric fan heater instead of our limited LPG and batteries.

    As it was Friday, we (Will especially) had been looking forward to frites for lunch, so we set off sharpish before our bellies started to rumble. Climbing past rows of terraced houses we arrived at Arlon town centre. It had wide, paved, pedestrian streets which were becoming flooded with pupils from the local highschool who had headed out to pick up lunch. We looped round and saw a number of café takeaway outfits, but no specific friterie, so we settled on Paluca, a pink painted café advertising frites. It was packed inside so Will waited in line while Vicky, who was hungry, sat outside on a long bench in the square (nobody likes Vicky when she's hungry 😂).

    The frites were good (it IS Belgium) and Will accompanied his with a salad baguette. It felt good just to sit and take in the 'goings on'; the kids chatting, the pigeons strutting hopefully, a worker standing outside smoking. We are so often on the move, passing by, that we forget to stop and soak up what is around us.

    Beside the café was a 'Night Shop' (or Nacht Winkel) in Dutch speaking areas. Belgium is the only country where we've seen these small grocery stores that open only at night.

    After frites we spent a little more time exploring, climbing the stone stairway to the church, from whose grounds we could look down on over the slate grey rooftops. The square in front of Arlon's sandstone Town Hall was a car park, a tank stationed in one corner. We passed a poster advertising a procession with Saint-Nicolas, showing a painting of a character wearing a red mitre. We've noticed St Nic / Santa chocolates in supermarkets have been shaped so the foil wrapped around can either show a mitre or what we think of as a Santa hat.

    Back at the fire station the firefighters were gathered around ready to turn on their hose. Not wanting to delay them, we scuttled past only to hear one say jocularly in French that it was ok, we had an umbrella! Even so, we didn't fancy getting hosed down!
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  • Day510

    Musée du Malgré-Tout, Belgium

    November 18, 2017 in Belgium

    From our French stopover in Charleville-Mézières we did a short hop to a Carrefour supermarket to pick up some wine and other bits and bobs. Vicky was not best impressed when she was required to remove and open her rucksack before being allowed to enter the store! However, it had almost everything we wanted, including an extensive organic food section. There was quite a buzz around the boxes of Beaujolais Nouveau that had arrived, they had notices printed on the boxes instructing for them not to be put on sale until the 3rd Thursday of November!

    We returned to Belgium but the road continued to dip in and out of France to the extent that we didn't know which country we were in at points! One border crossing that occurred within a town demonstrated the different approaches the two countries have to christmas. We approached from the French side, where christmas lights were strung accross the road. However, as soon as we crossed the border, they came to an abrupt halt!

    The aire we stayed in was a patch of gravel near a museum and petanque club. It was big enough for 4 vans and when we pulled in we saw two Belgian and one large British motorhome. The occupant of the latter didn't seem very sociable so we didn't push it and indeed, he soon escaped to a parking spot outside of the aire. We guess as we draw closer to the ferry port we will see more and more GB plates.
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  • Day513


    November 21, 2017 in Belgium

    After successfully taking Poppy to the vet at Tournai, we headed towards Ypres and the Flemish speaking area of Belgium. It had gone lunch time so we stopped along the way for our last trip to a Belgian frituur before returning to the UK. The standard of frites across the country really is excellent, Belgian expectations must be very exacting!

    As we drew closer to Ypres we passed a number of war cemeteries, their identical oblong or crucifix shaped gravestones standing erect in neat rows. Our parking place for the night was in a communal car park near a swimming pool, skate park and sports stadium. Regular groups of school kids trooped along on the other side of the hedge to access the facilities. Will met another British couple travelling in their motorhome who told him they used to park on the quiet residential street every time they came over from Calais, but now signs had been put up to prohibit this.

    Crossing a footbridge over the moat and ducking through a tunnel in the town wall we made our way up Ypres' narrow residential streets, lined with terraced houses of different types of brick. Grote Markt square suddenly revealed itself as we rounded a corner. We were taken aback by the large open space dominated by the towering Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall), that appeared rather like a massive cathedral with its sculpted stone facade and gothic steeples. It was really refreshing to see an old building of such grandeur that was built for something other than religious worship.

    The square was surrounded by tea rooms, bars, chocolate and souvenir shops. We'd not seen many poppies in the rest of Belgium, but there were plenty of them here, where so many tourists come to remember the war. They even had chocolate poppies. Despite having the feeling of a big city at its core, Ypres is only a large town. On streets leading away from the centre, the shops soon turn to homes or offices and we looped back to the compact central area several times.

    This being our last full day in Belgium, we were on a mission to buy chocolate amd Trappist beer to take home. Two chocolate shops standing side by side offered free tastings, so we sampled each and chose the better, where we happened to come accross a fellow Brit and an Australian couple standing in line. We found it a little strange to have so many people talking English as their first language, we hope we acclimatise quickly when we get back to the UK! The chocolatier was very friendly, as was the owner of the beer shop we visited, who helped us pick out some good bottles from their wide selection. She told us she had found the sudden deluge of customers around 11th November, then the quiet afterwards, difficult to deal with. We are glad we got to see the town in one of its subdued periods.

    Walking back to the van we passed Menin Gate, the large stone archway that bears the names of British and Commonwealth soldiers whose bodies were never recovered.

    We liked Ypres for its quiet square, magnificent Cloth Hall and the green belt of land running alongside its moat. We did however find its huge focus on the pointless loss of foreign lives a century ago, quashed organic local culture, which is one of the things we most enjoy experiencing when we travel.
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  • Day239

    Bruges, Belgium

    January 7 in Belgium

    We drove to Bruges from Luxembourg with Monica and Rory. Judith, our old flatmate from New Zealand, met us here from Holland. We spent the evening sampling Bruges' greatest export, beer! We visited several local pubs, each with a sizable beer variety, and stayed out until the early hours of the morning dancing to live music. We left Bruges with a few bottles of Westvleteren 12; 10.2%, brewed since 1940, and considered one of the best beers in the world. Sante!Read more

  • Day1

    Manneken Pis

    August 22, 2017 in Belgium

    Zwar nur eine Kopie und auch irgendwie nur ein pinkelnder Junge, trotzdem eines der Wahrzeichen Brüssels und somit ein Muss 😄 von seinen mittlerweile über 950 Kostümen hatte der Manneken auch eins an. Es gibt sogar eine Ausstellung, in der ein Teil seiner Kostüme präsentiert werden - verrückt 😂 Vorher waren wir noch auf dem Grand Place 😊

You might also know this place by the following names:

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