The River Lys, or Leie, marks the border between Belgium and France so it wasn’t until about noon on Saturday that we were truly in France. Some final Belgium thoughts.
The country has some wonderful cruising grounds and, as in the Netherlands, there are frequently good tieups in the center of the old cities. Ghent, Brugges, Namur and Liege are all special. We also enjoyed several days in out of the way places like Blauvwe Kei and Fintele; rural moorings in beautiful surroundings. Smaller towns like Geraardsbergen and Veurne are also favorites.
For our barging friends, if you are going to be spending much time in Flanders it’s really worthwhile to join the Vlaamse Pleasurvaartie Federatie, the VPF. With the discounts on mooring charges it more than paid for itself after just a couple of marina stays and it puts you in good stead with the locals. Plus, you can get a flag!
This stand was at the Dendermonde market although we saw the combination at markets just about everywhere.
The cycling in Flanders is epic! Well laid out and signed paths take you through quiet country backroads to just about everywhere. Even the cities are bicycle friendly, with special lanes and traffic lights. And most of the time there are no hills. Even when there are they are very modest. Since almost everybody cycles, drivers are very courteous, waiting to pass until it’s safe and giving you plenty of room. How unamerican!
Caution! Frog crossing!
In Flanders almost everyone speaks at least some English along with their native Flemish. Wallonians only speak French. All are friendly and helpful. Throughout the country the beer is great. They do need to work on the restaurant lunches, though. Dinners out are a little pricey and please don’t get us started on restaurant water. There is no such thing as the carafe d’ eau ( free pitcher of water) in Belgian restaurants. Water is often more expensive than beer!
We have no idea what this jet was doing propped above a building next to the canal.
That comment in the last posting about the Belgian crane was not an exaggeration. The amount of construction happening all over the country is astounding! We saw workers busy on all kinds of building, new, reuse and restoration, in every place we visited. We asked a couple we met at a restaurant in Kortrijk where all the money was coming from and we got the Belgian equivalent of the Gallic Shrug. There was some mumbling about the upcoming elections and public/private partnerships but some of these are really long term projects like Kortrijk, which after 12 or 13 years is still a loong way from completion. These are not elite big towers either. Most of it appears to be residential and public serving spaces. We were impressed!
We really enjoyed our three months in Belgium. We’re glad we came back. But now it’s on to France!