Day 13, 17 Sep, Renesse to Brugge, Belgium.

The weather was still very agreeable today, and although there were some clouds, there was a clear hint of a sunny day ahead. Usually, when the sun had risen higher in the sky, it would chase away the clouds, warming up the day.

After a quick breakfast, I packed up and went straight to the reception to pay the bill. Only thing was, this part of the world was pretty laid back and the manager had not arrived yet. Another man was there though; he didn’t speak English so he gestured for me to wait by putting up five fingers to indicate 5 minutes so I just hung around.

I was impatient to get on the road. Today I would be crossing into Belgium, and I’d hope to make Brugge (say bru-ger), or Bruges (say broojzh) depending on which country you came from, before sunset. I wasn’t quite sure of the distance but estimated it to be around 100km or so. It was going to be a pretty long day.

A woman arrived by bicycle a little later and I paid the 9 Euros for sleeping in an empty field and taking a dump in their toilet. I wondered if I should have just stealth-camped and save the money. It really wouldn’t have been much different.

I headed for Burghamsted, the next village less than 10km away. I found the supermarket and proceeded to stock up on food. When you’re on the road, it’s always better to have some food ready…just in case. I got the fresh milk that I just absolutely must have in the morning, and some bread. Water, on the other hand is never a problem – you can drink it straight from the tap. Saved me quite a bit of money.

The road to Burghamsted was a very civilised one, even though this was a very rural area

After Burghamsted, I crossed another massive dyke

Sometimes, the path would wind through graveled dunes that were higher than the houses nearby

I had no idea what 'slagboom' means but it sure sounded serious. I was more concerned with keeping to LF 1a, Noordzee route.

Serene leaf-strewn paths like this made for nice distractions.

Following the LF1 A faithfully would sometimes take you through very colourful settings

from town squares with busy sidewalk cafes in full swing...

to quiet back lanes.

Arriving at the town of Middleburg

Passing through Middleburg

Obviously, Churchill was a hero in this remote part of Netherlands as well.

I was very amused by this lady in an electric wheelchair...check out the skull-and-bones flag flying behind her

Doesn't look bloodthirsty to me

Canals inevitably means boats, which take priority when they had to 'cross' the road. Here, the middle span of this bridge is lifted to allow the tugboat pulling a massive crane of some sort to pass.

Middle span coming down

My next destination was Visslingen, a port just outside the town of Middleburg (where Albert would be making his way home from) to take the ferry across to Breskens. It was a pedestrian-and-cyclist-only ferry and cost 3.5 Euro for the 30 minute crossing.

The Visslingen ferry terminal

The seating area of the ferry

The sun was out, and so were the passengers.

In the hold below, bikes are simply tied to railings with the ropes supplied

I went around examining the different bikes that the Dutch rode.

A well-used Giant MTB...knobbies at the back, slicks in front

Europeans favour high handlebars for more comfortable, upright riding.

At Breskens, except for the occasional dunes, the scenery was quite plain, all the way to the town of Sluis.

I patted myself on the back for being quite clever to have plotted my route through this town because all I had to do to get to Brugge from here was to simply follow the canal. Easy peasy…

In Europe, whenever there’s a canal, one can be sure to find a cycle path next to it and although I didn’t have any reference to this canal, I simply deduced as such from the Michelin map of northern Belgium (and a bit of France) that I had bought in Delft.

As Sluis, a rather popular tourist town, I stopped at a tourist information booth to confirm my plans and after that, I headed straight for the canal which passed through the town itself. One hour later, including a break for food at one of the many benches along the canal, I arrived at the UNESCO certified heritage city of Brugge, just 20km away. Actually, 10 minutes after I rode along the canal, I was already in Belgium but as EU countries go, there really isn’t a border. Things just subtly change as you go along – the houses, the language (not that I could understand any of it), the number plates, the directional signs ….

Arriving at the town of Sluis, where I would follow the canal all the way to Brugge

The idyllic town of Sluis, almost on the border of Belgium.

Booms meant that no motorised vehicles were allowed on this path, not even motorcycles. Great...

There's just no point in speeding when the scenery is so captivating

Tourist boat, probably plying the Brugge/Sluis route

Finally, I reached Brugge...after 111km

I headed straight for the campsite, the only one within city limits, and was pleasantly surprised by it. It wasn’t big, but it was fringed by tall, dense forest which apparently contained recreational cycling and jogging paths. Lovely, I thought and proceeded to pitch up my tent in what I though was a site for tents. The office had closed by now and as is usual of campsites, you just pitched your tent (or your mobile home) in an empty plot and register yourself the next day.

Camp Memling, a very nice campsite next to a dense forest. I didn't know it yet but I, and the tent next to me, were parked in pitches reserved for mobile-homes. We had both come in after the office had closed.

I had clocked 111km today, the longest per day since I began my tour. The wind had been quite cold and I was feeling a little knackered. I made a quick trip to the supermarket nearby, came back and cooked a simple but hot dinner of rice with tomato, an egg, some simple seasoning, with some bread and cheese, and I had myself a little feast.

Tomorrow, I will check out ‘the best preserved medieval town in Belgium’… or was it Europe? Anyway, sleep came real easy. It was cold that night, too…at least 6-7 degrees. Maybe it was because of the forest next door. Brrrr…. Good thing I had Aljoscha’s sleeping bag that Eva made me exchange for the one I had originally brought. Thanks Eva 🙂 It kept me warm and toasty inside, especially when there’s a drawstring to close the bag even tighter from the neck down to contain the body heat.

Tomorrow: Exploring Brugge

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Distance today:: 111km
Distance to date:: 732km

Playback today’s ride on Garmin Connect

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