| GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)
The Kingdom of Belgium is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, covering 30.528 square kilometres. It is the home of 11.250.585 people, of which 65% are Christians, 27% have no religion and 5% are Muslims.
The currency is Euro, worth 7,46 Danish Krone. The GDP is US$470.179 billion.
Belgium has a temperate maritime climate influenced by the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The fauna is not that interesting, but among the larger mammals are the Wildcat (Felis silvestris), Common genet (Genetta genetta), Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) and the European otter (Lutra lutra). The flora is only slightly more interesting - and then again; here are actually nothing I will be looking for.
I passes a few larger towns, one with a tank placed on
the central square. In a village, I see the first of their famous blue cows
- which does look a bit grey to me. Another field have donkeys, and one
I pass the large Semois River on one of the beautiful country roads. A bit after, I'm stopped by a police woman. She claims she only speak French, and for the fun of it, I do ask if she should speak Swedish, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish, Italian, English, German or Danish - in these languishes. She have no humour.
Then a lot of police vehicles star to pass. At first; it guess it must be the Belgium president. More flashing blue lights, and I think it could be Thump. The the bicycles start to pass, and it turns out to be the Circut Ardennes. I follow them to Bouillon, which is a pretty town. Here are numerous restaurants and alike, and I do a few of the streets and walk along the big Semois River.
Way up on the mountain top, the massive Château de Bouillon overlooks the town and river, and I walk towards it. It have been made over 100s of years, and is quite intact. Many of the rooms have still some interior or remedies, which make it so more interesting. Unfortunately, all explanations are in French - and only French.
In one of the small museums, a bible from 1226-1270 is
displayed. A lot of colourful paintings,
all made by hand. Further in, is a
collection of printing tools and alike.
I explore the entire Château, and despite I only have a long sleeved T-shirt on, only the dungeons feel cold. The older parts have stalactites hanging from the sealing. Water is dripping in many places, and in one room, a cistern with crystal clear water is found. From the towers, there are so many great views to the river, city and surounding countryside, and I make way too many photos!
I head on by the winding Corbion - Vresse-sur-Semois road. I had expected it to be truly mountainous, but it is more like a slightly hilly forest. Here are many tiny villages with stone houses with sledge roof. Several trucks are transporting huge conifer stems out of the area.
A bit passed five, I find one of the camp sites I have prepared. I check the Norwegian weather forecast for the night temperature, and it should stay at 10C. I might get some sleep, if I ever finish the work. That turns out to be passed midnight. Day 1: Château de Bouillon
7/4. It is a pleasant 15C and sunny, when I wake up at eight. I start the day with a drive through the countryside by the minor roads. I see some of the giant power horses on the fields, but only find riding horses along the road. The landscape is flattening out, and the fields get huge. The farms look like they have not been expanded for many years - or proper maintained for that matter.
Again, some trees are covered in mistletoe, and the anemones are in full flower in the forests. My first stop is at the lovely village of Crupet. Old houses in red bricks and black slate, narrow alleys and a general idyllic atmosphere. The local castle is being restored, and for once, it is found below the village.
I find some small roads most of the way to Louvain-la-Neuve, where a huge and modern Hergé museum is found. All about Tintin and his friends, along with some cool souvenirs. The entire area is brand new and extremely fancy. The road leads under the museum and a vast shopping centre.
As I'm close to Brussels, I head right into the old city centre to see the little figure of Manneken Pis. I manages to drive real close and even park the car. The entire neighbourhood is made up by big old and lovely buildings, and most are cafés, waffle shops or souvenir shops. Unfortunately, the little statue has one of the days, where it is dressed up, and not even fancy! Well, I've seen it.
I follow the pedestrian street up to the central square;
The Grand Place, and the buildings are just astonishing! I try to
photo them, but the light - and camera - make some restrictions. I guess
Brussels could be worth spend a couple of days in, in good company. And here
are so many waffles with all kind of toppings, that have to be sampled. I
only buy one plain one, and it is real sweet and tasty.
As I see it, the big Atom from the world exhibition is the "Eiffel Tower" of Belgium, and that is my next target. It take some time to clear Brussels, but the many old buildings, along with the bright new and fancy ones, make it a pleasant drive.
The Atom is significantly larger than I had expected: It is huge! Normally, iconic sights tend to be way smaller (except the pyramids), but this exceed my exportations. I just stop to make a few photos, before I head on towards Meise and the National Plantentuin van Belgie; their big botanical garden.
The National Plantentuin van Belgie is huge! But mainly made up by a forest-like park. Several lakes and ponds, one with a huge château in. The Palais des Plantes is equal huge; here are 18.000 plants, and it is so well kept. Well, except their Victoria-pond. It is soaked in algae. I meet a gardener, and he tell me, they can't figure why. It turns out they have filled new soil in, for the Victoria plants: Enriched compost! No wonder they drown in algae! I advise they to shift the water, perhaps the soil and add a lot of hay to the pond.
I enjoy the rest of the waste covered collections, but skip the major part of the park. I have another botanical garden in sight: Gents. Again, I pass through the farmland, but now, it is Dutch-flat. No reason to use the minor roads, except for the cosy farms - which I have plenty of photos of by now. The highways are in general in a bad state; uneven and with pot-holes. But the traffic smooth, and soon after, I'm in Gent.
Exactly like last time I was in Gent, the one-way roads make it challenging. Especially as the GPS don't seem to give a dammed. Never the less, I find the Gent Botanical Garden, which closed at 12;00. Tomorrow; Sunday is closed too. Well, I see the huge and beautiful pond from the fence, and head on.
More flat landscape, and I'm at the coast in Veurne. It
should be a charming town, but at five in the afternoon, I head straight for
a camp site. I'm out of dinner, but find some chopped soup vegetables in a
supermarket, and add some pickles and sweet corns, and it make a good dinner.
Then I can explore the town in the morning, although it might rain.
8/4. A light rain make me sleep a bit longer, but my first site is a nearby town anyway. Veurne is not that coastal as I thought, but when I find the centre, I do see the charm. Old and rich houses surround the Grand Place, and several over-decorated churches are nearby. I only wished the sun would participate. The photos of the day; Veurne.
I have a few other sights, and hope I can catch-up with the sun further down south in France. Belgium is a nice country, which I might return to one day. I have taken 388 photos, driven 439 kilometres and only spend €106.