Category Archives: Belgium

North Sea

This blog post marks the end of my second stint of cycling in Europe, this time through the UK and Ireland. Unfortunately I missed out on the western and northern parts of Ireland, but the island proved to be larger than I thought and, moreover, I was running out of Summer.
Wales, on the other hand, was a thorough success and I liked it immensely.

sleeping

Not missing sleeping for around three months on roughly 0,7 cm of foam.

coffee_ritual

But I will miss my little coffee making ritual…

From Calais I cycled back to the Netherlands along the North Sea. This led me through French Flanders and the town of Dunkirk which was important in the Second World War and where, since then, nothing ever happened, even though some people are still waiting,  and then, after that, Belgium.
During my first episode of cycling I had toured through the central part of Belgium and it now struck me how short the coastline was: not more than 65 kilometres, much of which, it must be said, is an urban eyesore. Many apartment blocks were obstructing the sea views and casting long shadows over the wide boulevards. A tramway transports people along its entire coastline from De Panne in the south to Knokke-Heist in the north making it the longest of its kind in the world.
And that is something.

The last bit took me through the Dutch province of Zeeland. It wasn’t quite Wales, but then, it was a lot easier to ride the flat expanses of former islands and connecting dams and bridges, than the cliffs of Wales.

It was this province that lent its name to the country of New Zealand. Not long after it was discovered by Abel Tasman, in the 1640’s, Dutch cartographers marked the island on their maps as Nova Zeelandia, possibly because of the impression it made of being a jigsaw of islands and sea.
When he sailed east from Mauritius he and his crew managed to spectacularly miss the entire landmass that we now know as Australia and hit first Tasmania and later New Zealand without ever setting eyes on the continent itself.

Next: North Africa.

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Dubai and Brussels

One sunny day, the government of Ethiopia decided to cut off the entire internet. It was only for  ten days, so that was alright. The reason were the upcoming exams and the fear of exam papers being spread on the social media as had happened last year.

One woman in the hotel, with an Eastern European accent, said she would leave Ethiopia. She couldn’t live without internet she said and I had to admit that she looked pale, as if life was leaving her quickly.

From Addis Ababa I flew to Brussels with a long layover in Dubai. Although it was after eight in the evening, it was still 40 degrees and stifling hot. Besides the debilitating heat, there are several more reasons why the city is such a popular travel destination, but I can’t really think of any at the moment. Shopping  malls apparently….

The airport is not a bad one when it comes to lengthy layovers. There are many vending machines that sell cheap snacks and coffee for under a dollar (3 to 4 dirhams). Drinking water is freely available as is wifi.

In Brussels I entertained myself with a short walk in the surrounding countryside and this is where I saw a cow. It looked very peaceful and I made a photograph of it:

Brussels_cow

It made me think of lunch.

Another highlight of Brussels was a visit to the Magritte museum:

Magritte was an artist who made beautiful paintings of a ball (top left) , a woman (bottom left) and some creatures that seem to have come in peace even though the subcontractor had goofed up the windows of their hotel (right).

 

Brussels

My hosts in Brussels took me to the Atomium. The total height of the structure is 102 metres and it’s total weight at it’s inception was 2,400,000 kg. During a renovation in 2006 they added another 100,000 kg. After the World Expo in 1958, for which it was purposely built, they forgot to tear it down again. It involves a lot of qeueuing to get anywhere beyond the entrance.

It’s fairly symmetrical as the picture below shows.

Brussels

The Atomium in Brussels

The day before I had packed my tent at a decrepit campsite with  a predominantly  Polish clientele living in mobile homes. The friendly Flemish  owner wasn’t particularly concerned with matters of hygiene, but it sufficed for a single night.
On my way to Brussels I followed scenic routes along little rivers and canals. The last twenty kilometres confronted me with the first serious  hills sofar and I used gears I had never had any use for before. Slogging my way up In this fashion I reached new heights, as did my saddle pain which, I am afraid to say, left my buttocks in a sorry state.

In Brussels I enjoyed my first rest day.