Belgium
Belgium

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394 travelers at this place:

  • Day785

    We've reached Belgium! Tonight's stopover is another place we are familiar with; Oud-Rekem on the Zuid-Willemsvaart canal. We stayed here back in November as part of a month touring the country. This official stellplatz is out of town but close to a bridge whose road is busy. The sound of traffic contends with the mechanical noises emanating from a factory a little way down the canal on the opposite bank. Neither of these disturb us too much though.

    We started off this morning in Germany, 10km from the border with The Netherlands, so it wasn't long before we flew past the blue sign with its ring of gold stars announcing our entry to the country. Parking overnight outside official stopovers is illegal in The Netherlands and so far we only know of one free place to stay, so we haven't slept over since having a run in with the authorities back in the years when we had no idea of these regulations.

    A while later, we crossed the border into Belgium; a country far more friendly towards us motorhomers. First on the list was a visit to Aldi. Will had been given specific instructions on what he could and couldn't eat in the run up to his colonoscopy and it felt like all the things we usually eat were on the 'Don't' list. After stocking up with low fibre foods we were standing in the queue and Will was smiling his most ingratiating smile at Vicky. She soon put two and two together and granted him permission to fetch frites from the Frituur over the road. Chips are one of the things that is banned, so we made the most of the time before his diet began. Besides, the Belgian's really do produce the best frites! Vicky had unpacked by the time Will returned with the paper bag, stapled shut and with a carefully placed tear to make sure the contents didn't get soggy with steam. They were as good as we remember them to be and to her delight, Poppy even got treated to the few leftovers in the bag.

    Vicky was especially grateful to pull into the stellplatz we knew. For some reason it is a lot more relaxing than somewhere new. We relaxed and got on with jobs from the rest of the day. Before going to bed Vicky noticed a few little ants on the internal step and used the brush to flick them outside. Poppy woke her at around 5am to be taken out, but as she was reaching for the lead she saw dozens of ants crawling on the worktop 😫 It was still dark when she began ejecting them from the van with a range of brushes, but light when she returned to bed. The same task was repeated a short while later when she got up, but there were hundreds of the little critters and it was like trying to stop the tide coming in, so we left soon after Will got up.
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  • Day795

    Brasschaat Park near Antwerp

    August 30 in Belgium

    We are stationed at an official stopover just 11km from Antwerp. A line of mature oaks, thick bushes and a cycle track seperate us from a busy main road, but with the woodland behind us, the site feels more rural than it actually is. We could stay hear for up to 72 hours and were pleased to see it has all the facilities, including recycling; something we've found difficult to source of late.

    It was a later start than usual this morning as we took advantage of the sunshine and looked around the town we'd stayed in. A short drive took us to Aldi, whose car park we lunched in, before making our way up the motorway. When we hit traffic jams the sat nav suggested a different route. Unfortunately we didn't realise until it was too late that this new route took us through central Antwerp; Belgian's 2nd city. We'd visited in November and it seemed like half the streets had roadworks on them. Sadly this was still the case and we spent goodness knows how long inching our way along with the rest of the nose to tail traffic. We were therefore very relieved to arrive at our destination and put the kettle on!

    The stellplatz was adjacent to a city park in which there were a myriad of tracks. On an evening stroll we discovered mature deciduous woodland, a small lake and an open stretch of well mown grassland, at the head of which was Brasschaat Castle; a country home currently hosting a wedding reception. It was a lovely location and we were very happy to be given access to the grounds on our free overnight stay!
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  • Day731

    Brecht, Belgium

    June 27 in Belgium

    From our stopover close to Dunkerque in France we picked up some LPG and made our way into Belgium. The external temperature rose to 34°C in the sun as we retreated from the cooling coastal breeze and Poppy was very grateful for the air conditioning as we drove. We approached Belgium's 2nd city of Antwerp around 3:30pm and were caught up in a horrendous traffic jam for 2 hours. People were becoming impatient and soon after being passed by an unmarked police car, its officers directed us to the inside lane, as they set out cones around a lorry that had hit the side of a car we assumed had been lane hopping.

    Brecht was a small brown brick town not far from the motorway. Initially we couldn't find a suitable stopover, so pulled into a car park to check the phone. Just as we had given up and were starting to drive away, a local builder approached us and asked in English if we were looking for a camp ground! With his directions we were able to find the car park beside the park and library building. It had no facilities but 2 vans could stay free for up to 48 hours.

    Selecting a spot that would soon be shaded by tall trees, we were able to step out straight onto the grass. A wooden picnic bench (albeit with a bit of grafitti and chewing gum on it) stood nearby and Vicky sat out with Poppy in the warmth of the evening. Will soon joined them with some delicious cool oysters, followed by veggie spag bol and a rasberry tart with a dolop of cream.

    The breeze had kept Poppy cool enough but she had become too tired to stay out. Back in the van she found it difficult to settle with the heat but with a combination of ice packs and dousing her in cool water, she eventually relaxed and we went for a stroll through the park and very functional looking town square with its council hall, steepled church and traditional statue of a local dignitary. The park was well maintained with an old petanque pitch surrounded by sculpted trees and a couple of fountains in the duck pond. Again, we felt very lucky to be invited to access these facilities in the van and although we didn't need anything, we treated ourselves to a couple of tarts at the bakers the following morning, in order to make a small contribution to the town.
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  • Day794

    Gistel, Belgium

    August 29 in Belgium

    We're back! Martha is keeping the three of us snug, as plump raindrops lazily dribble from a featureless sky. We are parked in a brick paved stellplatz at the back of a sports, games and cultural centre in Gistel, Belgium. A Belgian Hymer van is stationed alongside us and a screen of Buddleia bushes, some with a few purple flowers, provides a green backdrop for the front window. Although the water droplets falling on our roof are noisy, they've driven everyone indoors, so the place is pleasantly undisturbed.

    We spent a total of five nights at our sister and brother in law's house in Orpington, enabling Will to have a Colonoscopy at Croydon University Hospital. We are really pleased the procedure went well and that the doctors found nothing that to worry about. Big thanks to Sue and John for putting us up and sharing the delicious sweetcorn, tomatoes, grapes, parsley and cooking apples from their garden!

    We set off just after 9am this morning and had a wet drive down to Dover Port. Check-in was simple as we flashed our burgundy passports at the officials and were waved on. Poppy got to check out the new dog exercise area with its astroturf, ramp and jumps. There was a time when she would have relished the obstacle course, but as it was she just had a sniff and a piddle before following the black and white walkway back to the van with Vicky. At 12:05pm we set sail on the P&O ferry, Spirit of France and were docking in Calais before we knew it. The van was parked in pole position and we were first off our deck, whizzing through the corridor of tall, off-white mesh fencing, topped with coils of razor wire. Clear of the fortress-like defences and a little way down the motorway we passed a migrant camp. Small tents pitched within a coppice and a line of rain soaked residents queuing to receive their rations from a Red Cross van.

    After nearly 100km we followed a complicated set of sat nav instructions through a residential estate and pulled in at the stellplatz where we put the kettle on and settled in for the evening.

    Thankfully the night saw the rain pass over and we woke to dappled sunshine filtering through the Poplar leaves. Having looked on Maps.Me we knew there were some small shops nearby, so walked into the centre of Gistel. The village had a friendly feel and a lot of independent businesses, but the best shop was Leonidas chocolatier! Will knows how much Vicky loves good chocolate and persuaded her to go in and choose a selection to fill a small box. Neither of us know Dutch but the person behind the counter spoke excellent English and described each of their handcrafted delights in detail. Vicky had a whale of a time picking out the ones she would like best! A brief stop at one of the half dozen bakeries saw us leaving with a seeded loaf and another sweet treat for Vicky; a slice of Belgian bread pudding!

    It would have been easy to just pack up and set off on our journey, but we are so glad we made the effort to explore Gistel. The overnight spot wasn't memorable in itself but the village seemed to be a warm, accepting place and we left with a feel good glow!
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  • Day786

    Tournai & Poppy's vet check

    August 21 in Belgium

    We are amongst 20 or so other vans in Tournai's official stellplatz, a substantial, slightly run down, concrete car park that also acts as a truck stop. It is once again a return visit, having stayed here for one night in late November. Despite being well away from the road the background thrum of traffic is constant because Tournai is a large urban settlement. Behind us are the extensive, green, playing fields for a big, red brick secondary school. Every now and then a whistle blows or kids yell encouragement to their team mates.

    We arrived after a drive of 215km, broken up by a lunch stop at motorway services, where Vicky shooed yet more ants from the van. Fingers crossed, their numbers do seem to be diminishing. Tournai isn't the most scenic of spots but it does have a good number of vets and Poppy needs her checkup and echinococcus (worming) tablets before our ferry crossing on Friday, to satisfy the terms of the Pet Passport scheme. A vet needs to examine her and ensure she has recieved a treatment for worms between 120 hours and 24 hours prior to crossing. We'd previously had a very successful consultation with a veterinarian here, but when calling ahead to book, had learned that she was on holiday. A quick search of google maps told us there were lots of other clinics close by and we chose one outside the ringroad for easy access, making an appointment for 11am.

    Nearing the stopover we visited an Intermarché supermarket and picked up some more low fibre foods for Will's pre-hospital diet. We then found a spot at the stopover and holed up for the evening. Come morning we left with the drinking water at 100% and empty waste tanks. Arriving at the vets in plenty of time we parked on the street and had a quick look around the small Wednesday market up the road. Vicky guided Will past the colourful fruit and veg stalls (he isn't allowed any at the moment) and on to the cheese trailer. Its produce looked mouthwateringly good and it even had a decent range of bio (organic) choices. We bought a couple of small wedges then fetched Poppy for her consultation.

    The clinic comprised the ground floor of a terraced house and we rang the bell to gain entry, only for it to be answered by an extremely flustered young vet exclaiming that it was impossible to see us now or even in half an hour. She already had two patients waiting and it was only her. We tried explaining that we had an appointment but she already knew this and was trying to turn us away! We didn't back down and she finally said we could return at midday. More than a little put out and worried, we returned a confused Poppy to the van and went for another look around the market to mull over our options. We could drive 70km to another vets we knew and attend an afternoon drop-in session, we could call round other vets in Tournai and see if they had any last minute appointments or we could wait and see if this vet was able to fit us in. Poppy didn't need treatment as such, just a check, some worming tablets and a stamp in her passport, so we decided to wait around for our noon appointment.

    At 12 o'clock we rang the bell once again and to our great relief the waiting room was empty and the vet beckoned us in. Once she had finished on the phone she apologised sincerely. She looked as if she had just graduated vet school and it turned out the other practitioner was on holiday, leaving her to be vet, veterinary nurse, receptionist and secretary all in one. No wonder she had seemed frazzled! She got on with checking the passport and Poppy, asking us lots of questions about her health and when we were travelling. Luckily Vicky speaks a reasonable amount of French so was able to answer most queries. At the end of the session Poppy ate her tablets (cleverly disguised as bone shaped treats) and the passport was handed back to us with the necessary sections complete. It cost a total of €38, which was less than we usually pay. It was only once we were driving away that Will realised she hadn't checked Poppy's microchip. She has two because a previous one stopped functioning. We just hope this one does its job at the port on Friday!
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  • Day1

    So wie Croissants und Baguettes zu Paris gehören, ist Brüssel untrennbar mit Pralinen und Schokolade verbunden. In der Capitale Belgiens verführen unzählige Schokolaterien, vor allem rund um den historischen "Grote Markt" und in der "Galeries Royales St.-Hubert", zu einem süßen Einkaufserlebnis der ganz besonderen Art! Schokolade in jeglicher Form, wird in Brüssel zum Kunstobjekt - hochwertig bis extravagant von den "Maitres du Chocolate" in den Schaufenstern und Verkaufsräumen ihrer Fachgeschäfte präsentiert. Dabei überraschen die unterschiedlichsten Konzepte! Wie direkt aus einem Harry Potter Film entnommen, verzaubert ein fantasievoll gestaltetes Schaufenster mit seinen Leckereien. Direkt daneben ziehen der spektakuläre Schokoladenbrunnen und Skulpturen aus der süßen Versuchung die Blicke besonders langsam gehender Passanten auf sich, während die Verkaufsräume einer Schokolaterie gegenüber, mit wertig präsentierten Köstlichkeiten, eher an einen teuren Juwelier erinnern ( www.pierreledent.be ) - wahrlich, bei weitem nicht nur ein Fest für den verwöhnten Gaumen! Das die kleinen, kalorienhaltigen Kunstobjekte einen ganz "besonderen" Preis haben, erklärt sich von selbst. Aber diesen sind sie definitiv wert, zaubern sie doch nahezu jedem ein Lächeln ins Gesicht!Read more

  • Day8

    Wunderschönes Brügge

    September 17 in Belgium

    Was gibt es schöneres als einen Kaffee in der Sonne im wunderschönen Brügge?!
    Auch wenn der Kaffee dürftig war, waren die Gassen und Häuser umso schöner. Über Brügge wurde uns definitiv nicht zu viel versprochen und wir kommen gerne wieder zurück.

  • Day8

    Disney Sand Magic

    September 17 in Belgium

    Was für ein Traum. Worte reichen leider nicht aus um die Schönheit der Sandskulpturen zu beschreiben.
    Künstler haben hier in monatelanger Handarbeit wahre Schätze aus Sand geschaffen. Jedes Detail ist perfekt.

  • Day470

    Houffalize, Country #12, Belgium!

    October 9, 2017 in Belgium

    Leaving Luxembourg we entered Belgium; country number 12 of our European Tour! We are planning to spend 6.5 weeks here before returning to the UK for the first time in what will be nearly 17 months. We read today that the 'old' £1 coins would no longer be currency on 15th October. We didn't even know there was a new £1 coin! What other changes will await us on our return we wonder?

    As well as exploring on our own, we are meeting up with Will's daughter Beth and our son in law Richard for a weekend in Brussels before going WWOOFing for 10 days on a fruit and veg farm near Ypres.

    Our first stop, at Houffalize, wasn't far over the border. The little town had provided a free 10 place stellplatz divided from the car park by a mature Beech hedge. It was quiet and looked out on to a tree covered slope that rose gently away and had an enticing play park down a path to the right (to Will's dissapointment it was behind an 8ft fence with locked gates).

    It was Monday morning when we arrived and Will went to explore the shops. He returned soon afterwards exclaiming "It's shut!" "What?" "The town! It's shut!". We've found that several towns with small shops have made the effort to open at the weekend, but close on Mondays. We decided to stay a 2nd night and were pleased to find most shops in the compact centre were open on Tuesday. Our favourite was the charcuterie making and selling traditional Ardennes paté and saucisson, of which they had an impressive range.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

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