Belgium, Brussels and Bicycles

  Bruussels to Gent (Belgium) Stage
71.3 km Distance
 Nothing Elevation
 Overcast and moody Weather

Last Tuesday it was my birthday and my feet had started to get a little itchy. So I dedicated a number of hours to researching potential next moves in Europe. Heading south to Morroco was looking favorable but the sweltering Spanish summer had already started to show its bite. And anyone who has spent time in Andalucia during the months of May and June will know the type of inferno I’m referring to. On reflection north was a better direction to be headed. It just so happened that a cheap flight, from a random small airport close by to where I would be visiting over the weekend, to Brussels in Belgium appeared during my investigations. In the wee hours that night I pounced on the opportunity - flight booked. 

I wanted to be in Germany anyway by the start of June and arriving by alternative means of transport is kinda my thang. So my first days in Brussels were spent searching for the not-so-perfect bicycle, upgrading my backpack with two wheels, which would get me to Bremen in the next 10 days.

My wonderful hosts in Brussles, also bicycle enthusiasts, pointed me in the right direction. I scoured flea markets, second hand bicycle stores and online platforms. I was surprised at how expensive the options were - but calculated if I could sell the bike when I got to Germany then I could absorb some of the cost. 

Finally I found Chuck. An old and heavy bright green mountain bike which looked worse than it rode. A plus for detouring would-be bicycle thieves. I had all I needed; spare inner tube, puncture repair kit, bike pump, equally weighted panniers and elastic straps to tie down my backpack. I added two 15mm spanners to my inventory in case of rear wheel deflation and late Wednesday afternoon we saddled up and hit the road.

Navigating through Belgium on a bicycle is a breeze. With the notch system planning a route between two points is as easy as selecting your departure and arrival point on the online map. Jotting down the numbered ‘notches’ and following well signed paths along the way it’s difficult to lose the way. 

I was delighted that my first planned route never crossed a main motorway, ducked in and out of farmlands on gravel paths and snaked along the beautiful tree-lined canals. After a few days of organising logistics I was glad to be finally on the road with the wind in my hair. 

My hosts from Warmshowers in Brussels - enjoying a picnic on the roof.
Homecooked pasta salad and blue cheese quiche - hospitality at its finest.
Street art and 'green spaces’ in hidden alleyways in Brussels.
The long halls of the underground music conservatory in Brussels where one of my hosts studied classical oboe performance. 
Chuck all loaded up, rocking and ready to go. 
At a canal crossing along the way - I giggled as I rang a large bell aside the dock to call the attention of the ferry lady across the way.
Navigation in the 21st century - connecting the dots.