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4 thoughts on “belgium

  • Satoshi

    Hi Rob

    I am not entirely sure from which side you enter Belgium and if arriving from South East via Luxembourg (it's worth a visit) or Directly from Germany via Cologne (Köln) or Aachen (Aken in Dutch). You may be doing via Maastricht (NL) where three countries share the border. South East is more pictursque but hilly, anywhere north of the language border is flat and can be a bit dull with generic looking villages and towns. Beer and fries (very thin french fries not chips eaten with mayonnaise) are the staple diet here with good steaks and meat balls with cherry sauce. You also get some good quality seafood when in season such as Zeeuwse Mosselen (Dutch mussles in fact coming from Holland but cooked in Belgian way). Belgium is not as cyclist friendly as Holland, hey Holland is the bike-friendliest country on the planet. You will be suprised how few people wear helmet here. Brussels is a city which people either love it or hate it. It's very hard to cycle in this city – hilly, with stone paving, tram tracks and the crazy drivers. I think you should visit Brussels and other little places in Germany, France and Holland once you are settled in the UK.

  • Satoshi

    OK I hope you have read my post on Dutch bike path network.

    Once you are in Belgium You will naturally head for the first big town in the north – Antwerp. The bike path network situation is different from Holland. Less visible and oftentimes just a shared farm road or older intercity roads. Instead of riding next to the highway or railway try to find canals which usually have nice cycle paths alongside. This way you can also avoid motor traffic and the canals connect to the backside of towns usually with more historical buildings.

    The YHA hostel in Antwerp is a bit outside the city and within the city the bike routes may suddenly disappear and turn into stone paving or worse criss crossing tram tracks. I zoomed on this stone paving and tram tracks on my Brompton with 16 inch wheels every day!!! Anyway It's a nice city to for a day visit but I wonder if it's worth staying overnight. You can press on heading out of the city and try to find a campsite somewhere. Also if you are going south to Brussels ther aren't many places worth noting in between. Within Brussels cycling is possible but it's a hilly city and the traffic is as scary as Paris. The cities you should DEFINATELY vist are in West Flanders – Gent (Ghent in English) and UNESCO listed old town of Brugge (Brouge in English) are pretty far from Antwerpen but can be reached in one afternoon through the flat and open country if the weather permits. I can't think of anywhere worth a stay between Antwerp and Gent and it's relatively hard to find a place to stay in Belgium other than touristy places and the coastal towns and the farmers may not let you pitch the tent.

    Checking your Lonely Planet book and its website may be a good idea.

    I lived in Belgium for almost 4 years (on and off to start with) so I know a lot about Flanders just ask me anything.

    I will post more info about the coast later.