Day 33 – 1st August 2020 – Herpen, NL to Lovendegem, Belgium
Ok penultimate day today… and off into another lovely sunny morning.
I am not in any rush so can enjoy a little be more of Netherlands before crossing over into Belgium.
One of the first things of interest I see are these…. solar panels, but not just square slabs, but creative designs… so cool
and of course the usual collection of churches
but also… windmills, especially as I am now nearing the sea. I am heading for the islands of Zeeland, which, as the name implies, is on the coast.. lots of water, bridges and windmills to see here I hope.
My first windmill and tower of the day….. mmm must be time for….
and very nice it is too.. in the cute small town of Klundert
as you can see, the sun is disappearing and it is becoming quite overcast… hope no rain today.
Am starting to see more water and shipping, with wind turbines making much more of an appearance as I enter Zeeland.
The weather is starting to brighten up and then I see this in the distance… wow a working windmill, must go and see that.
It seems to be quite the attraction and there are loads of people both on and off bicycles so I presume this is a very popular holiday area…
Next to the windmill is a field with cart horses, well you don’t see many of those around, and here are mummy and baby… sooo cute
There are other ‘attractions’ here.. not sure why there is what appears to be a Japanese Zero aircraft, (my plane recognition might be a bit off.. it could be a Messcherscmit or Fokker Wolf I guess), on a stick… odd!
Another couple of windmills..
and then it is serious wind farms… I enjoy the idea of the old and new, still using natural resources
and I think this looks like mummy and baby too…. OMG they’re breeding
I traverse some fantastic roads over bridges between the islands, one can see the mechanics of how the Dutch keep the North Sea at bay, via a system of gates and sluices.
I am passing more villages and soon am through the last crossing via a long tunnel to Terneuzen. Before long I will be over the border into Belgium so I think one last koekje bij de koffie is in order don’t you
I check out ever faithful booking.com and look for somewhere to stay… I think maybe I will stay in Belgium, but I forgot how blooming expensive it is… over £100 a night in some places. There are a few cheaper options in Bruges, but I don’t want to go there. There is nothing within the distance I want to travel over in France so am a bit stuck as to what to do. I check out AirBnB too, same problem… then I come across a place in Eeklo, Belgium that is actually pretty reasonable given the average rate here; a bit off route as it’s just west of Ghent, but seems to be the best I can find so book that.
Back on the road. A couple of final photos…
then I am on a fast road heading into Belgium…
Suddenly the road surface changes into concrete slabs, extremely bumpy, they are laid end to end with a ridge between so not very comfortable… ahh I’m pretty sure I have now crossed over and am in Belgium; I remember the bumpy roads from previous visits.
The concrete doesn’t last for very long and am soon back on black top.
More, but Belgian, churches
I enter the town of Eeklo to find my B&B… spot this tower
and a very odd aircraft, that has its wing stuck into a building…
Looks like the accommodation tonight will be in the heart of the town, oh great a nice wander around and somewhere I can walk to for dinner.. am looking forward to that.
I pull up outside the B&B, it’s obvious that I can’t park here so I hope they have parking somewhere nearby. I think it will be ok to leave the bike here a minute while I check in and unload. I immediately notice that everyone here is in masks, I think it must be pretty strict.. good.
Anyway, I press the doorbell… and again… no answer. However, the front door has been wedged open with a piece of cardboard, oh maybe that is for me to get in, so I push the door open and shout hello, but no reply… all a wee bit strange methinks… I tentatively go inside, shouting hello as I go. Ahead of me is a steep staircase, joy, and a couple of doors towards the back of the building. The first door on the right seems to be a waiting room, like a dentists! How odd.. the next door leads into a small ante-room and then what appears to be a lounge area, there is a very large and handsome cat, who looks at me like Who TF are you?? There is another doorway into a small kitchen area and some french doors out into a small garden. But, no one is around.. I am worried I have entered the owners private quarters so am feeling a little bit awkward. I ask the cat where is Mummy, not much of an answer there, probably doesn’t speak English I guess.
Next, back outside and make sure I am in the right place… yep there is a sign above the door… I also see there is a brass plate on the wall, which appears to be for a dentist or some other health practitioner, hence the waiting room. I check on booking.com and find a phone number… it’s an answer machine, the announcement is in Dutch of course, but I leave a message after the beep to say I am here and waiting to check in.
I decide that I should off load the bike while I am waiting, this takes about 5 minutes.. still nothing so decide to have a look upstairs. Nothing to report just a couple of doors with women’s names, which I assume are the bedrooms.
Ok so I’ve been here at least 20 minutes and have had enough now… I check on booking.com and miraculously find another place even cheaper than this one.. it’s in Lovendegem, just a few kilometres away. Ok booked and cancel this one explaining that I cannot check in and unable to contact the host. Pack the bike back up, praying the owner of the B&B doesn’t make an appearance.. awkward!!! Phew, all done and still no-one is here…
I arrive at the place in Lovendegem… immediately I am met by Kurt the owner, he keeps well away and explains I am in the ‘cabin’ around the back, it’s called Lisa… I laugh and tell him it’s my daughters name… he says ‘what a coincidence’ and laughs too. ‘The key is in the door and please come to reception after you park up to get a form’. ‘OK no problem and thank you’. He says ‘Please wear a mask at all times outside of your cabin except at the breakfast table’, ‘Of course.. will do’. Suddenly he says… ‘beer or coca cola’? Oh…. he is offering me a can, which is very nice of him, but a little bit incongruous given the social distancing already displayed, but I feel churlish refusing so take the beer… he then reminds me to leave my key in the basket in reception in the morning. I ask if he can recommend somewhere to eat, he says there is a list of nearby places on the wall in my room.. cool, thanks.
I ride around the back. The surface is gravel, dirt and what appears to be bark.. I manage it no problem and park the bike opposite the ‘cabin’ which is actually a cinder block building with a row of rooms each having their own patio. Entrance to the rooms is via a patio door. They are really quirky and I get a very good vibe here. The room itself is great with a huge double bed and a small single plus the bathroom is enormous.. yes very good, much better than that other place I think. I quickly unpack the bike and then walk over to the reception. Kurt has left me a note with the wifi details etc. It says see you in the morning for breakfast.. oh ok, he is keeping well away, which certainly suits me as I don’t want to be taking anything home!
Back to the cabin and a quick change before riding the bike into Lovendegem. Having checked out the list on the wall, I see there is a Pizzeria… it’s my last night, gotta be done hasn’t it. Outside I realise I am going to have to haul Minnie backwards to get her out from where I have parked… bloody hell Pogs, what a plonker!! It is hard work in the dirt and bark, but eventually I get her turned around… am not parking here when I get back.
In Lovendegem itself there is a huge canal with lots of working craft… must be time for a few photos I guess
The Italian restaurant is just by the canal so in for the last pizza of the tour. I ask for a menu, it’s order online only because of COVID… I get the WiFi code and choose my pizza. I must say the service is quite slow and I have to ask to actually place my order. However, the pizza arrives quite quickly and is delicious… happy bunny!
On the way back to the ‘cabin’ I take a couple of photos in Lovendegem
Tomorrow is just a short hop over to Calais and through the tunnel to Folkestone and onwards to London and home… I must say I am looking forward to it.