Belgium
Arrondissement Leuven

Here you’ll find travel reports about Arrondissement Leuven. Discover travel destinations in Belgium of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

13 travelers at this place:

  • Day472

    Aarschot

    October 11, 2017 in Belgium

    We wanted to get near Brussels for when Beth and Richard arrived in a few days time, so we travelled quite a long way in a north westerly direction today. The motorway cut through expanses of forest and its viaducts gave us a bird's eye view of the milticoloured tree tops far below.

    After a while the woodland was replaced by a string of towns and industrial complexes. Quite suddenly the language of signs changed from French to Dutch. We'd read that unlike in easy going multilingual Luxembourg, we needed to be careful what language we used in Belgium. Wallonia, the region we first entered speaks French, Flanders in the North speaks Flemish, there are enclaves in the East that speak German and Brussels speaks a mix of Dutch and French. According to the guidebook, what language a Belgian speaks is strongly linked to their cultural identity and it would be considered insensitive to try to talk to someone from Flanders in French. Apparently English is widley spoken and considered quite neautral.

    As we travelled through a suburb of the sprawling metropolis of St Truidans we entered a highstreet that will be remembered as the highstreet from hell. The windows of a number of shops were bare apart from a chair or two. These shops displayed a sign that translated as 'Service on Demand'. We passed another similar window with a mannequin wearing a short two tone leather dress and appeared to be reading something on a high round table. It is curious how our minds try to normalise what we see. It was only when we passed another and saw a woman in just her bra and knickers that the penny dropped. There were no mannequins. The shops were selling the women. There were literally dozens of windows lining this otherwise normal highstreet, where one or two women sat or stood in skimpy dresses or underwear, advertising themselves. It shocked and upset us. Organised prostitution is illegal in Belgium but according to Wikipedia, there are some areas in which it is tolerated. We have heard the arguements about women being free to do what they want with their bodies and that prostitution out in the open is a lot safer than when it is driven underground. We just couldn't get away from our emotional reaction that these women were being taken advantage of, objectified in the worst possible way, reduced to the number of euros someone would pay for them, perhaps being forced into it by sick minded criminals who held some threat over them. When you can go shopping for women, it changes the way women are viewed and therefore their potential as individuals. Feeling powerless to do anything about it, we just wanted to get away from there as quickly as we could.

    We continued with other stressed drivers, along run-down urban corridors, past casinos and seemingly relentless advertising billboards. Needing food, we pulled up at a supermarket. It looked like a warehouse from the outside and was disconcerting when we entered because it was layed out more like a Booker or Macro wholesalers than a conventional supermarket. It had a dingy air and sets of plastic steps were scattered here and there for you to access the items on the high shelves. The prostitute shops had cast a dark cloud over us and Vicky's anxiety was running high. She returned to the van but was soon followed by Will who had got to the checkout and noticed he didn't have his wallet. After a highly stressed 5 minutes of searching and thinking he'd dropped it in the shop, Vicky found that Poppy was hiding the missing wallet underneath her. It must have slipped between the front seats when Will was trying to put it in his bag. Oh the relief!

    On the bright side the shop had an excellent range of quality products and the cashier spoke good English. On the down side the machine didn't accept Will's credit card. Luckily we were able to pay with cash and get on with trying to find somewhere to stay. We'd seen loads of fritteries and frituurs since arriving in Belgium but the ones we'd been able to access had all been closed. Will was gasping for a taste of this famous Belgian food so when we saw a shop with nearby parking we pulled over and he had his fill of takeaway frites, exclaiming they were the best he'd ever tasted!

    We think wildcamping is allowed in Belgium but aren't yet sure so we stuck to the safe side and stayed at an official Aire in Aarschot at one end of an 800 place car park. It wasn't a scenic spot, looking onto a brick built swimming pool and near a busy highway, but it was free, had emptying facilities, free electricity. There was grass around it and it backed on to a riverside walk.

    The town centre wasn't far away and Will went to explore that afternoon, finding a number of useful shops and a Pop-up FairTrade café. In the morning Vicky walked along the bank of the slow moving river at sunrise. Thankfully on the opposite side to the large school into which hundreds of bicycles amd scooters were zipping. Later, we discovered not one, but two large markets in town, selling a whole range of delectable foods that the stall holders were happy for us to try. We filled our bag with olives, crystalised ginger, camomile and ewe's cheese. Many stalls sold non food items too and Vicky picked up some golden yarn she'd been looking out for, in preparation for Christmas.

    Later Will took the tandem along the river towpath and Vicky caught up with her 'to do' list. Thanks to the facility to get away along the waterside and the friendly market buzz we were feeling altogether a lot better about our stay in Belgium than had done when we arrived.
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  • Day171

    Day 172: Leuven

    August 5, 2017 in Belgium

    Day trip outside of Brussels today. Leuven is a small-ish university city about half an hour's train ride to the east. It's also home to two UNESCO sites, so after a quick breakfast of pastries and coffee we hopped on a train and headed out!

    Arrived around 12pm and walked into the city centre from the train station. It's quite an attractive city, with some lovely old buildings and interesting alleyways to explore. Lots of young people around as well, despite it being summer holidays.

    First stop was the first UNESCO site, another of the belfries. This was attached to a church, but was mostly in ruins these days. It was originally planned to be a colossal 180 metres tall, basically unthinkable in the 15th century, and would've comfortably been the world's tallest building until skyscrapers in New York and Chicago started breaking the 200m barrier in the early 20th century.

    But they never finished it, and after a few fires and wars it's now basically the same height as the church it's attached to. Still nice to look at though!

    Next stop was the beguinage, another multi-site WH list entry that's unique to the area. A beguinage is basically a community of religious single women who wanted to retreat from public life. They weren't nuns, they took no vows, they didn't collect alms and they were free to leave at any time to marry or return home. But otherwise it was just a simple, quiet community of religious women (usually landless nobles, widows, second daughters and so on).

    There's 12 beguinages on the list, but this was one of the largest so it was good to explore. And it was very peaceful, set off to the side of the city in a walled compound. Lots of small houses, narrow streets, canals running through of course, and a few parks plus the obligatory church. A very nice environment, and as with a lot of places in Belgium, well off the tourist radar so we had it mostly to ourselves (aside from the students who live there now, of course).

    Headed back into the main part of town where we ummed and ahhed about what to do next. We had a quick lunch in a chain health food place called Exki, then debated having a drink outside and doing some people watching. In the end, the weather decided for us, as an enormous downpour forced us to take cover in a small portico along with a lot of other people! It absolutely bucketed down for about 10 minutes before stopping.

    Since everything was now wet and we didn't feel like sitting inside, we just headed back to the train station and grabbed the next train back to Brussels.

    By the time we got back, it had fined up a bit again, so we walked from the station back to our hotel - about 30 minutes worth. Strolled through a nice park and past the royal palace as well, which was good to see, though we were too late to go inside (and I have a feeling dogs wouldn't be permitted!).

    Back to the hotel where we settled in for the evening to work and plan. I briefly ventured outside for some takeaway kebabs from the store across the road, but that was pretty much it! It's surprising how common kebabs are here in Belgium (and Netherlands and France too, for that matter). Though they're different from Australian-style kebabs with meat, salad and sauce - these tend to just have meat, sauce and cheese. No hummus or tabouli either!
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  • Day42

    Etappe 1 Rotterdam-Aarschot 138km

    July 13, 2017 in Belgium

    Vandaag dan eindelijk de atart gemaakt..Vanmorgen bleek al snel dat we wel heeeeel veel bagage hadden en dat allemaal passend in de wagen van Jos.?niet helemaal... dus de reservefiets maar thuisgelaten.
    Daarna kwam Lucas ons escorteren met zijn motot..imposant hoor en Ferdie erachter met de auto gingen we via de Coolsingel en Erasmusbrug naar de Kuip en natuurlijk daar nog een foto. gemaakt.onderweg werden we ook met de Go Pro gefilmd ! ..Inmiddels was t al 10.30 uur en begonnen we echt met fietsen naar Moerdijk..Het ging prima en heerlijk fietsweer en na 1.5 uur bij Moerdijk stond Ferdie en lucas ons al op te wachten en hebben we koffie en taart gegeten.Daarna onze weg vervolgt door brabant en de Bike map route was echt prachtig..rustige landwegen en soms door de bossen..echt mooi
    Gestopt in Belgie na 90 km.voor de lunch en Ferdie kwam erbij gezellig.Weer verder en na de 100 km ging de gang er wel een beetje uit en verlangden we naar een Belgisch biertje..Na 138km en rond 18.00 uur kwamen we bij ons hotel in Aarschot.Prachtig hoor een hele oude watermolen verbouwd tot hotel.maar met oude muren om ons heen.Echt een toplocatie en eindelijk dan de Leffe em Brune gedronken en daarna eten in t centrum
    Lekker stoofvlees en pasteitjes..Al met al een goede dag gehad..de moraal is hoog en we gaan ervoor.Morgen krijgen we de Ardennen erbij..eens zien hoe dat gaat...Dus nu 23.00 uur lekker pitten.
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  • Day1

    Saisonstart 2018 - Belgien

    February 8 in Belgium

    Heute ist Leuven angesagt, eine Studentenstadt kurz vor Brüssel. Stellplätze gibt es keine, der Parkplatz am Rande eines Parks in Kessel-Lo tut es aber für eine Nacht. Von hier geht es mit dem Linienbus in 25 Minuten ins Zentrum von Leuven

  • Day3

    1e Etappe Rotterdam naar Aarschot

    July 13, 2017 in Belgium

    Een geweldig leuke dag gehad. Nadat we alle deelnemers opgehaald hadden bleek de hoeveelheid mee te nemen bagage toch wel erg veel te zijn. Besloten de reserve fiets en de koelbox en de senseo toch maar thuis te laten.
    We hebben eerst een stukje Rotterdam gezien natuurlijk, de Erasmus brug en het Feijenoord stadion.
    Na flink wat door elkaar gerammeld te zijn op de slechte Belgische fietswegen zijn we nu in Aarschot.
    Rustiek hotel in een oude watermolen. De rivier loopt nog onder het hotel door.
    De eerste etappe was 135 km, dus we lopen voor op het schema (120 per dag). Maar zien hoe het morgen gaat.
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  • Day18

    Leuven

    June 21, 2015 in Belgium

    Why is it that so many Belgian places names have become synonymous with war? The Ardennes, Ypres, Flanders' fields and, of course, Waterloo, the purpose of this trip. There is also Dunkirk, just only a couple of miles across the border. Leuven is one of those such places, especially the library.

    At the start of the first world war (actually, before war was declared for the breaching of Belgian independence and neutrality) the books and manuscripts of Leuven's library were burnt and destroyed. Since then, Leuven's name has been associated with the Great War. As a strange connection, it was Manchester's John Rylands Library that replenished the destroyed books.Read more

  • Day22

    Rock Werchter

    July 2, 2017 in Belgium

    Meu segundo festival na Bélgica e com um lineup bem misto - compararia com nosso Lollapalooza.
    Em muitas coisas ele foi parecido com o Graspop, em muitas coisas diferente. O principal acho que foi o público, que era mais sossegado. Ainda tinha um monte de bêbado maluco que queria tirar selfie e gritar no celular quando eu estava gravando coisas, mas foi menos que no anterior.

    Acampar dessa vez foi melhor. Tive mais tempo para preparar a barraca, o local apesar de ter chovido estava menos barrento. Foi também mais caro, já que tive que pagar para acampar e dentro do acampamento se quisesse usar as acomodações (chuveiro, tomada) tinha que pagar mais um tanto ainda. E o local do acampamento que peguei era muuuito longe do festival. Especificamente 2,5km ou meia hora andando. Isso foi meio que culpa minha que não entendi que precisava comprar antes o camping e tinham diferentes áreas pela cidade.

    A organização do festival estava impecável*! 3 palcos, sendo 1 principal e 2 cobertos (The Barn e KluBC), várias áreas para comer, uma área artística que tinha graffiti em containers, e o espaço era gigante. Acredito que menor que o Maximus mas ainda assim gigante. Ah sim, algo diferente: os palcos cobertos tinham uma lotação máxima. Quando eles enchiam os portões eram fechados e se você quisesse assistir podia ver de um telão no gramado. Eles também tinham uma espécie de arquibancada dentro, dava para ver o show sentado se quisesse ou ficar em pé e ver por cima da cabeça de geral (fiz isso no Cage the Elephant no domingo). O palco principal tinha uma "área vip" para quem chegasse antes. Era a mesma coisa: depois de um tanto de gente dentro eles fechavam o portão e já era.

    Os banheiros todos limpinhos como sempre (dentro do festival eram com água, fora eram químicos 🤢) e acho que o festival em si estava bem mais limpo que o Graspop. Tinha menos copos e garrafas no chão. Isso porque eles fazem uma promoção que cada 20 copos reciclados você ganha 1 drink. Ou seja, tinha galera juntando tudo que podia hahaha

    O lineup, novamente, foi misto e pra mim bem incrível. Uma pena que eu gostava/conhecia poucas bandas de lá. As que eu conhecia com certeza vi o show inteiro, mas a maioria eu acabei vendo metade mesmo. Dos 4 dias eu só fiquei no show das últimas bandas (que faziam 2h30 de show) em 1 dia hahaha. Minha contagem foi 11 shows inteiros e 13 de longe ou pela metade. Todos os shows que vi foram legais, os artistas estavam super empolgados e sempre que podiam iam até o público. O Chester (Linkin Park) por exemplo cantou uma música inteira abraçado com uma fã. Foi uma lindeza só!

    O público como disse era bem diferente. Tanto que as câmeras no telão eram Hug Cam, Kiss Cam ao invés da Ad Fundum (beber até o fim) do Graspop. Tive problema com algumas pessoas mas o que posso fazer, a cultura é diferente e tem coisas que acabavam me deixando nervoso 🤷‍♂️. Teve uma coisa cômica apenas que foi um cara tentando me animar quando eu estava sentado no show do The Pretenders, me dizendo para tirar selfie com ele, tentando me levantar para dançar e o amigo dele me oferecendo cerveja hahaha. Os belgas (e franceses) que conversei que estavam sóbrios eram bacanas, os outros nem tanto hahaha.

    No geral, muito bom o festival novamente. Talvez eu já não estivesse no espírito da farra nos últimos dias, ou estava muito cansado para aproveitar 100%. Mas tirando o choque cultural, o resto todo valeu a pena. E agora que venha o próximo, ResurrectionFest, na Espanha! Vamos ver se a cultura muda.

    * 2 coisas me deixaram chateado. A primeira é que o ônibus que saía de Leuven (estação que leva para o aeroporto em Bruxelas) te deixava de um lado do festival e meu acampamento era do outro lado, uns 3,5km depois. Andar com 20kg de roupa, barraca e eletrônicos nas costas por todo esse caminho tanto na chegada quanto na ida não foi muito legal. A segunda é que eles colocaram os lockers dentro do festival! Não pode entrar com câmera mas o lugar para guardar a câmera fica dentro, WTF? No final eu acabei deixando numa área lá reservada a "coisas proibidas" mas todo dia era uma briga tentando dizer "vocês disseram que ia ter locker e não tem, vou fazer o que?". Tanto que no 3o dia de festival o carinha desse lugar já até me conhecia hahaha. Foi estressante mais do que problemático. Espero que arrumem isso no próximo ano.
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Arrondissement Leuven

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