Belgium
Wallonia

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

139 travelers at this place:

  • 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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  • 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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  • Day509

    Poupehan

    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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  • Day503

    Lac de la Gileppe

    November 11, 2017 in Belgium

    From Dutch speaking Belgium, we passed into the low wooded hills of the Ardennes and French speaking Belgium. Frituures changed to Friteries and boulangeries became more frequent.

    It was bad timing that Flanders, the area we were moving away from, was celebrating Martinmass, where children would be processing through the streets with paper lanterns or carved beetroots with lights inside, singing "Sinntemette" songs, sometimes with a man dressed as St Martin riding ahead of them on a horse. Friends and family would be passing on toys from St Martin and a special meal, sometimes of goose, would be eaten.

    We are beginning to get a bit confused with all these different celebrations! Another thing that we were losing track of was what language to speak, as we had decided to pop into Germany to return our deposit bottles and buy some crates of alcohol free beer for the trip back to the UK.

    If it wasn't for the border sign, we would have known we were in Germany by the recycling bins (good) and billboards advertising cigarettes (bad). We soon pulled up at a Getrankenhaus which supplied us with a couple of crates from their excellent range of beers.

    Back in Belgium we pulled off the highway on to a dead end road that lead to Lac de la Gileppe and its stopover with free electricity. There aren't that many lakes in this country, so this one (really a reservoir) was a big focus for the area. It was a beautiful setting, in a valley thick with autumnal woodland. Darkness closed in quickly after we arrived but the next day we explored. A covered viewpoint allowed us to look down on the reservoir and the dam-top boulevard from high on the valley slope. It was beautiful to see the tree canopy of orange, gold, yellow and brown spread out so far, broken only by the glassy surface of the lake and the small river trickling out of its base, cutting a course through the hills.

    A 5km trail took us along the top of the dam, past the huge stone lion, down through the woods, with beech leaves that almost glowed golden before falling to create a copper carpet. Crossing the river we climbed the 106 steps back to the visitor centre and spent a little time looking at the backlit displays and watching a short documentary about how the dam was built to ensure a clean supply of water all year round for the wool industry.

    Next, a glass sided elevator took us 77m up to the panorama restaurant at the top of the tower and afforded brilliant views over the lake and forest. We spent a little time looking at a photographic display of the local area but the restaurant looked a bit too posh for a quick drink and snack so we decided to visit the down to earth café at the bottom of the tower. The sky had been getting progressively darker as a bank of cloud closed quickly in on the tower. As we were waiting for the elevator they reached us and the panoramic windows were engulfed by a blizzard of snow! It lasted only a few minutes but it was impressive!

    By the time we were at ground level it had cleared up and we watched a group of Scouts using leaves, mud and twigs to build temporary dams against the surface run off. We were happy to be warm inside, with Vicky eating 'Crepe Gileppe' and us both drinking '77' beer; a 7.7% craft ale brewed specially for visitors of the 77m high lake tower and served in its own individually designed glass.
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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: http://www.veterinairepeeters.be/
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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

    Arlon

    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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  • Day7

    Belgium!

    July 3, 2016 in Belgium

    We stayed just 5km from the Belgian border and felt up for a cycle ride so we took the tandem and headed for the little bridge over the stream that turned out to be the border.

    The photo of Vicky facing forward is taken from France while she is in Belgium and visa versa for the photo she is turning round in.

    It is a real pleasure to be able to move so freely between the countries over here.

You might also know this place by the following names:

Wallonia, Wallonische Region, Valònia, Valonia, Wallonie, Vallonia, Wallonië, Valônia

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