Ok I completely forget to include a rather signficicant event in one of the previous posts that influenced where we decide to cycle to after leaving Tine’s.
On the way out of Ghent going to Keerburgen, so on Day 8 of cycling we stopped to eat the bread, meat and cheese we had bought earlier in a supermarket. It was raining so we were eating in a bus shelter with out bikes propped on either side. While we were happily eating our lunch out of the rain, a van pulled up with the signs of the local government on the side across the road for us.
We just sat there and waited for the driver to approach us and we’re kind of assuming it would be an official coming to tell us to move on, that we couldn’t stop and eat here. This guy gets out, tall guy, long-ish hair tied back and walks over to us. Oh here we go…
The guy was actually super friendly, his name was Siegfried and he did work for the local government as a groundskeeper. He asked if we needed directions or help, we said we were ok and he said “alright no problem”. He offered us to stay with him and his family that night, they lived nearby but that night we were staying with Tine.
Siegfried got back in his van and just before he pulled off asked us where we were going before he pulled off.
By now we had gotten into the habit of telling people our goal was “Istanbul, first” and then maybe elaborate on the whole year long trip if they seemed interested, it was easier this way.
So, we told Siegfried “Istanbul” and that got his attention, he got out of the van came back over to us and told us how he’d been there over 10 times! He asked us what our route out of Belgium was and we told him we were leaving through the Eifel National park which bordered Germany in the South East.
“I have a holiday home there and will be down this weekend with my wife while the kids are at camp! Call me up when you get near and you can stay with us a night.”
And with that Siegfried gave us his phone number and address and told us to call him when we got near.
So the result of all this is that we had planned the rest of route through Belgium such that we would arrive at Houfen where Siegfreid and his wife had their holiday home on Sunday, the day he guaranteed he would be there. We couldn’t turn down such hospitality.
So we found ourselves, not with time to kill per say, but with a comfortable distance to ride in a generous amount of time. So back, to Day 10. As the crow flies the journey from Zoutleeuw to Aubel is not really that long, but since we had time on our hands we decided to go through Hasselt and then dip into the Netherlands for a bit and go via Maastricht and then down into Aubel, on the outskirts of the Eifel National Park.
Once again, we were on the fantastic Belgian cycle route which works as a network of nodes you plan a path between.
We got lunch (Lidl) in Hasselt and gave Siegfried a call letting him know we’d arrive on Sunday (it was now Friday). We then pushed on to Maastricht.
We crossed into the Netherlands without noticing. We were probably only there for about 90 minutes all told, but I reckon it counts. We flew the Maastricht, didn’t really feel like stopping again at the time.
As we approached Aubel we started to experience something long forgotten since entering Beglium, inclines! We hadn’t climbed a hill since getting off the ferry.
We spent a bit of time looking for somewhere to camp, but couldn’t find anywhere discrete, and asking around if we could sleep in someone’s field led nowhere as the land was all own by “the chateaux”, so eventually, reluctantly, we ended the day in our first campsite.