We are now in for a completely different experience – we are leaving Wallonie and going into Flanders. This means the language has changed dramatically from French which we understood enough to get by, to Flemish or rather gobbledygook as we understand not one word. Luckily for us and anyone outside of this area, the locals all speak English as otherwise they would be slightly isolated in the world.
As of the end of yesterday we have covered 2150 kms.
The roads have improved, there are cycle paths everywhere and quite a lot more cyclists. We stopped at a railway station so Duncan could do some work and the station cafe did very good coffee and it came with complementary biscuit and chocolate. That’s a first.
Before we crossed the border, we turned a corner in a village and there was a large removal truck blocking the road. We squeezed by. On the other side was a vehicle waiting. Julie took a photo of the truck. The man in the vehicle asked why she had taken a photograph and she told him because she thought it bizarre that someone would block the main road through a village. His reply was what we consider a very Belgian answer. “But he is moving house”, to which Julie replied “well, it’s early and the truck is empty, so you could have a long wait, good luck”. “It’s OK” he replied. Off we went. Ten minutes down the road, he zoomed past us going in the opposite direction. His brain obviously eventually kicked in.
There is always something to amuse the cyclist. There has to be really or you would go bonkers. Lots of farmland but the villages are very regular.
The entire day stank of cow manure.
We came across a total of four blocked roads and below, a blocked cycle path.
Two houses below in the architectural ‘style’ I mentioned yesterday.
We got on a great cycle path which took us along a canal into Ghent. We flew along with the wind behind us. What a relief to be off those roads.
Bit tricky working our way through but at least we got here without being soaked. cobblestones are terrible to ride on.
We finally arrived at our accommodation at 3pm. We had a key code for our apartment. The cleaner was still there so we grabbed a coffee – we just made it before another downpour. We saw the cleaner leave. Well, the apartment was terrible. It was nothing as described on the Booking.com website. It was tatty, run down, dirty and dingy. It was also the most expensive we booked on the whole trip. The kitchen cupboards had rat bait in them and virtually nothing else. The bedroom faced the street and had no curtains or blinds. There were five lights that didn’t work, the bathroom had the shower head over the toilet with no screen or curtain. The mirror had fallen off, the sink leaked and the handle fell off the shower. After calls and texts, the agent came around and seemed genuinely surprised it was so bad. They found us an attic room in a new converted house 1.2 km further out. We had booked the first place to be close to the centre. Belinda and Paul booked their hotel to be close to us!
Belinda and Paul had their dramas too being stuck in traffic due to an accident (surprise surprise). They arrived 3.5 hours later than expected. We finally caught up at 7.30 and found a typical Belgian restaurant close by. Late evening. Miserable weather due to continue!
Ghent looks so far like a fabulously well preserved city. There will be plenty of walking, talking, eating and drinking over the next couple of days and the bikes can stay in the yet to be finished basement.