After a great nights sleep on the ferry in our cabin bunk we arrived at Zebrugge, Belgium. This was a bit of an occasion for us really. while the trip had begun six days ago in Wales, now that we had arrived on the Eurasian continent it felt like we’d really begun the journey. From here there should be no more outside transport, just the bikes and us to get to Nepal.
As we left the boat we came across an English guy and his couple of friends he was touring with. He claimed to have travelled by bike a lot through Belgium and assured that coming off the ferry we should take a right and soon find a sign to take us to Bruges. As it turned out this was not true and we were later informed at a tourist info centre that we should have, in fact, taken a left at the lights. The young guy at tourist info also gave us directions to Bruges that took us through Damme, an old Belgian town.
The route to Damme was lovely, long, flat road along a canal, which we found before too long after receiving the correct directions. We had a another group of English guys join us along it, three friend who had left from Hull on a two day tour to Antwerp and back. We cycled along with them until we arrived at Damme about an hour later.
Damme was a really lovely old style Belgian town which we wandered around for a bit. We had a coffee before getting back on the bikes on to Bruges.
After leaving Damme we followed the same Canal all the way into Bruges. The whole city of Bruges is a UNESCO WORLD heritage site, and it’s very easy to see why. The whole places is almost a charicture of old Europe: Canals, cobbles, spires, squares and narrow winding streets. It does make for a beautiful place to visit though and we spent the rest of the day wandering around the historic old town.
In the evening we we left the city and rode towards Gent keeping an eye out for somewhere to camp for the night. After riding through pretty developed countryside and getting a bit worried we wouldn’t find a spot we came across the perfect empty field, off the road with a row of trees to block the road.
After dumping out stuff we went off in search of water. At every house we tried nearby no one seemed to be home. We eventually found ourselves poking around an apparently empty, what appeared to be something like an old folks home. Calling out for a while and not finding anyone we presumed the place was vacant. A tap nearby was perfect for filling up our bottles, so of course we went ahead and started to fill up.
Almost as soon as we started we heard someone come round the corner. A large, old Belgian poked his head around the corner and demanded, understandably, to know what we were doing.
We tried to explain that we were very nice boys out on a prefectly innocent cycle through Belgium, but he was not happy. “do you do this in your country? This is Belgium. Go immediately”. So sheepishly we left, and found water from our very kind lady a bit further up the road.
As it turned out, in our hasty retreat from the angry Belgians place, the water filter we used to store water at camp had fallen from the bike. So, we went back and poked around again until we found it, making sure to let him know we were on the premises.
That night we slept well despite the rain that started soon after dark.