Belgium,   July 12 to 18  



Losheimergrabben, quiet backdoor from Germany to Belgium.
Quiet now, but in December 1944 this was where the German army launched its last desperate counteroffensive of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge.


The flag looks like the german flag, but the stripes are vertical. The german flag has horizontal stripes.








July 13, Buttgenbach to Liège, 74km



Canadians are used to bilingual signs; in this part of Belgium signs are in three languages. French, Dutch, and German,

This was in Buttgenbach where I spent my first night in Belgium. Before 1918 this region was part of Germany; it was transferred to Belgium as part of reparations .














On the uplands a few km out of town, the Aerodrome de Spa.
There were a number of corporate jets and about a dozen of these yellow helicopters, ready at call for the Formula 1 high-rollers. Team members don't drive to the race site, they go by chopper. The major hotels in the region all have pads.








Liège was one of the few places where I've felt ever uneasy... despite its size (pop'n about the same as Calgary) it didn't appear to have much for the visitors.

Stayed in a run-down & expensive Hotel Mercure that had a sign in the lobby saying "We will be closed from September to December for renovations".

I went looking up and down the alleys for something for dinner besides pizza. I think I was the only person there from out-of-town.






        July 14
        Liège to Wavre




        July 15
Wavre - Waterloo - Dworp
        65km and an afternoon spent at Waterloo









In Belgium there has been a lot of effort spent over the years in cobbling rural roads. Usually you only find cobbles in town. This made a very slow and difficult morning picking my way across the fields and farms to the Waterloo battlefield.






















I put out 6 euros for a ticket to climb to the top of the pyramid and it was worth the price. I closed my eyes to imagine
how these fields would have looked with a quarter million soldiers, horses, cannons...

In the distance you can see a plume of smoke. Another museum across the field reconstructs daily a battlefield tableau with live cannons.

















The Waterloo Panorama












        July 16: Dworp to Ghent, 68km



Another one of those things that amuses bwilsonduncan:

       tow trucks


and this is a BIG one. It has nothing much to do with me cycling through Belgium.








        The river Dender near Ninove, around noon.









Approaching Ghent.

The red part of the road is for bikes. Deluxe treatment of bikes in all the large cities in Belgium.







(St Bavo's Cathedral),

Under reconstruction, like so many of the cathedrals in Europe.



Festive quay on the river Leie.

The Castle Gravensteen is in the background.








    One of the things Belgium is known for is lace. This was a store on one of the little sidestreets of Ghent that sold only lacegoods.  



        July 17 Ghent to Ostend... and beyond






The route from Ghent to Bruges
followed the banks of a broad canal.
Compared to some of the canals I've travelled,
this one was heavily used by serious shipping.

Across the water,
a fellow véloist with ramorgue,
heading back towards Ghent








    The famous tower of Bruges. In the movie 'In Bruges' there were some scenes taken at the top of the tower. I looked for a way of getting inside to climb to the top, but it seems to have been closed for the lunch hour.  









        On the outskirts of town, a beautiful old tour bus, dating from the late 1940's













On many of Europe's canals the traffic has been reduced to vacationers and charter boats.

Not so on the Bruges - Ostend Canal. Here's one of many serious, working barges I met enroute. Looks like a good seven or eight knots.












Next morning, July 18, onto the P&O ferry to Dover.

I bought my ticket and was sent to the front of the line, the only véloist among a dozen motorbikers. When the loading started, I was signaled to be first on, up the ramp to the second deck; OMG, can I actually pedal up that steep ramp, with 300 cars, trucks & busses watching? Or will they get to see me go half way, then have to push, à pied, the rest of the way?

                                    …whew, made it!







Two Welsh motorcyclists I met in the line at the Calais dock. Trevor Jones and Steve Jones (not brothers, I think. Just a lot of Jones's in Wales.)

They were returning from a motorcycle tour in Portugal. Good company on the three-hour crossing.