Celebrating our 30th anniversary – part 2

Day 7 – A day in Bruges

After breakfast we got into Joey’s car and drove to the nearby town of Bruges. The plan was to just roam around and just be tourists.
Bruges is a beautiful town and super clean. I mean this place is really geared up for tourists and even though we were early in the season there were thousands of tourists from every corner of the planet.
So we did what all tourists do…

In front of the old government meeting-house, now a ceremonial building on the market square

On one of the canals with the Belfry of Bruges in the background

Another lovely canal scene

No shortage of chocolate shops

Even on sticks

Another lovely scene

To appreciate Bruges you need to go there. It’s a beautiful town and we highly recommended (off-season)

Later in the evening, after diner Monique and I went for a walk alone

The wind had calmed a bit and we had a chance to be alone

Close up of a fishing trawler just off the coast

And our sunset on the beach

Day 8 – May 6th – We made it 30 years together

This morning I found two more broken spokes on Moniques rear tire. I had just one spare so replaced one of them.
The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling on the beach

The wind had picked up again, but it was a perfect day without a cloud in the sky

On the beach near Wenduine we found a perfect sheltered place to relax, reflect and enjoy several beers in the sun

One with the whole gang

Later on we headed back to the apartment for a siesta

The day before we had booked a table at Picardie in Blankenberge for a nice diner with the sunset view

Femke and Joey

Yours truly

Dinner was great

Here’s to the next 30 years

Day 9 – Airbnb near Camping Duinenlac to Camping De Kruitmolen near Brakenburg, NL – 62kms

After a fantastic weekend we got on the road at 10:00. The weather was gray with a slight tail wind.
We decided not to stay in Belgium because our route would have taken us through the busy port of Antwerp. So we rode to Breskens and took the ferry to Vlissingen and eventually to this farmers camping.
Cold and tired we were in our sleeping bags by 20:00. It doesn’t feel like a vacation anymore because were heading home.
Camping is good if a bit dated.

Knokke-Heist. All along the coast many apartments for sale but couldn’t imagine us having one

Verdronken Zwarte Polder

We mostly followed the LF 1b Northsea cycling route

Great cycling paths al the way to Breskens

With plenty of benched to rest

The Norther wind was cold

A lovely yacht

Lighthouse of Breskens with Vlissingen in the background

Just great cycling

Our ferry

The cold wind took a lot out of us and our mood began to sink

We followed the Schelde – Rhein route which ends in Venlo (about 70kms North of Maastricht)
But later decided we would be going back into Belgium after Antwerp

We took the canal to Mddelburg which was going North when we needed to head Northeast.
But when cold and tired we make bad decisions.

Day 10 – Camping De Kruitmolen (NL) to Camping De Groene Linden (near Brecht) Belgium – 85kms

What a day. We got up to a gray morning with a cold NE wind and heavy drizzle. Later on the sun did come out and we shed our thermal sweaters but kept the jackets to keep the wind out. After we reached the camping I inspected Moniques rear tire and found another broken spoke but the wheel kept true so just made a note to stop at a bike shop the next day.
We knew that our destination was about 120kms from home and we were already contemplating making it home in just three days.

On the Calandweg near Sluis De Piet. Nowhere to hide from the wind and rain around these parts

Direction Bergen op Zoom

Following the N289

Crossing canal Suid-Beveland

Windmill in Kruiningen

After Krabbendijke we got off the N289 and headed for Bath on the Bathseweg

In the distance we noticed a huge container ship on the Valkenisse

Just looked strange seeing a huge ship in the middle of farm fields

The industrial area of Antwerp complete with its nuclear power plant

Still on the Bathseweg heading towards Schelde-Rijnverbinding canal

Finally some protection form the wind just before the Belgian border at Putte on the N289.
Things were looking up, the sun even came out

We were glad the woman in charge of the camping opened up the bar so we could get our favorite beers and warm up in the sun. Karmeliet tripple for Monique and a Westmalle double for me. Just love these Belgian special beers

After our drinks it was time to set up camp

Day 11 – Camping De Groene Linden to Maastricht – 122kms

We got up early and were on the road by 09:00. We knew the distance we needed to cover today so we just made a beeline in a Southeasterly direction and headed for home.
While having our second breakfast on a park bench we heard a spoke on Moniques rear tire pop. First time we’ve ever saw a spoke break with the bike standing still. Needless to say now we had to stop at a bicycle shop and have it repaired as there were now two broken spokes. The mechanic only charged us €6 and after hearing what had happened and inspected the wheel he recomended replacing the rim. It was severly bent and to make it true some spokes had to be over tightened while others were loose and the spokes would keep on breaking. So taking that Eddy Merckx route near Brussels was not the greatest idea.

We took a scenic short cut for a couple kilometers

Through farm fields and woodland

On the N153 heading to the Albert canal. Earlier we had passed Malle where one of my favorite beers is brewed Westmalle double. Unfortunatly it was a bit early for one

The Albert canal at Herentals

By now it was getting warm and we began to shed some layers of clothes

Welcome back to Belgian Limburg. Soon afterwards we stopped at a road side restaurant and a proper second lunch to carry us home.

By 17:00 it got really warm

Crossing the Kolenhaven in Hasselt

On the N2

Streight ahead

We had a couple detours due to road works

Crossing the Albert canal into Maastricht from the second of the two bridges

Smiles all around as we could smell home now

It was late when we finally reached home. It had been a very long day and we were happy we could cycle 122kms

Epilogue

It was a great idea to celebrate our 30th anniversary with a short tour. We truly enjoyed the experience and had a fantastic time. Even with those not so pleasant days along the way.
But that is touring, one appreciates the good days more when there are some cold and wet days in-between.
Would we do this tour again? Probably not. Reason being campings in Belgium are few and far in-between with facilities below par compared to other north European countries. We found out that this is mainly due to the strange laws Belgium has concerning campgrounds.
Overall it was nice to do this tour once.