TOURING THE NETHERLANDS (2) SOUTH AND BELGIUM

July 19 - August 8 1996

Touring The Netherlands South and Belgium

After touring Holland in the North last year, we spent our summer holiday in the south. This province is called Limburg. Then into Belgium, a region called The Ardennes. Again that summer was really hot, the landscape is hilly and in The Ardennes even mountainous.

Also poor photography for this page.

Day 1 - 2 > Eindhoven - Maastricht - Bemelen

Resting and changing for a more summery outfit

Resting and changing for a more summery outfit

We started early and it was a little chilly in the morning for some miles we cycled alongside a canal. It was a pleasant trip, with absolutely flat terrain and no wind.

We arrived in Maastricht and went to our camping to check-in. We decided to stay around Maastricht, which is an ancient town of over 2000 years old. We decided to stay for another day just to cycle around in the wonderful hills of this most southern part of The Netherlands.

Green rolling hills of Limburg

Green rolling hills of Limburg

Day 3 - 4 > Bemelen - Vaals - Valkenburg - Bemelen

The highest point of The Netherlands (321 m), were The Netherlands meet Belgium and Germany

The highest point of The Netherlands (321 m),
were The Netherlands meet Belgium and Germany

Next day we started for a scouting trip to Vaals. We didn't know this was the most demanding trip in Holland. Vaals is the highest point in The Netherlands. That was what we knew, but such steep hills!

Beautiful landscape, with shady routes and little brooks. A visit to Valkenburg a lovely little town, a tourist's attraction. Old architecture build out of sandstone. Over the centuries they dug it up out of the St. Pietersberg south of Maastricht.

Valkenburg

Valkenburg

Day 4 - 6 > Berg en Terblijt - Maastricht

Cave-houses

Cave-houses

These 2 days no long distance cycling but looking around in the typical Burgundian villages. For instance Berg en Terblijt, where one can see cave-houses.

Maastricht

Maastricht

Maastricht is not a typical Dutch town, one might think it is located in France. Easy going people. The old Romans founded the town as she is today.

We consider Maastricht and Nijmegen the oldest towns in Holland. If you come to Holland, do visit these towns as well as Amsterdam.

Cold feet on a hot day

Cold feet on a hot day

My camera every now and then

...my camera every now and then

Lovely countryside, relaxed cycling. We learned how to climb and I took photographs very now and then. Some photos can be found in 'Red Flowers'.

A cold beer in the afternoon. Have two of them and your legs feel like lead.

10 years later...

10 years later...

Cadier en Keer was one of the villages we frequently visited. The reason for that was a lovely little café where they serve delightful meals.

About 10 years later my son Edo decided to study law in Maastricht. Luckily he found a room in Cadier en Keer and almost weekly he had a good dinner in this café.

Day 7 - 8 > Maastricht - Luik - Amay

And into Belgium. Watch how the river Meuse works her way through

And into Belgium. Watch how the river Meuse works her way through

Next morning we left for Luik (Liege). The route was going uphill along the river Maas (Meuse). This region in Belgium is called Wallonie and its language is French.

The suburbs of Liege are a little gray, but its centre is beautiful with lovely routes along the Meuse. Liege was once a strong city in coal and steel industry. We had a lovely evening in a restaurant where the Italian cook sang us his songs from Naples to us.

On our way to Amay a German guy had lost control over his bicycle and fell. He had to go to the hospital, with a wounded knee. Going down hill with a heavy bike is tricky.

A good rest and a nice dinner on a little camping in Amay.

Day 9 - 10 - 11 > Amay - Namur - Dinant

Will with his camera

Will with his camera

A wonderful route just along the river Meuse, so there was not much climbing. Sometimes we climbed out of the river valley to visit the little villages on the high banks. A lot of outdoor sports like cycling, canoeing in the wild river and mountain climbing.

We met Will, a funny guy, an Englishman with his French wife. He is a photographer for his hobby and he takes his pictures with a very old camera and a black cloth.

It was high season and Namur and Dinant were crowdy. Youngsters enjoyed outdoor sports a lot. Hotels and campings were noisy.

Day 12 - 13 - 14 > Dinant - St. Hubert - La Roche en Ardennes - Spa

Old ruine in the mountains

Old ruine in the mountains

This was a difficult part of the route. It was hot and the highest climbing we ever did untill then. We crossed the rivers Lesse and Lomme and just climbed straight to St.Hubert (590 m).

A little less tourism. Quiet villages in the woods and along the rivers. Mostly farming and forestry cultures. Friendly people.

A few miles to the east is Bastogne. In the last winter of World War II, American allies fought a bitter battle there in surrounded positions.

We turned to the north to La Roche en Ardennes. At last we descend to the valley of the river Ourthe.

We found a little hotel and had a good dinner with a nice glass of cool beer. Brewery is a specialty in this region.

Day 15 - 16 - 17 > Spa - Verviers - Eupen

Ardennes mountain-home

Ardennes mountain-home

A hot day and we had to do our main climbing. I was happy with every bit of shade from the large trees along the route. After every climb there is a reward: a beautiful sight in the valley.

It is said, one has to be born a cycle climber. Well, I am not, but I found out a good trick: take your own time, concentrate, feel no fear. Choose your right gear and don't shift too much. Take deep breathes, you may think you are hyperventilating but that's impossible. At the same time you push your legs around in your own rhythm. It's not easy, but practice that again and again, in a few seconds the oxygen reaches your leg muscles and fatigue is gone. Don't start climbing with a lack of oxygen; you'll lose it within ten minutes and then it'll take time to get over it, physically and mentally. What is in your head is the most important. There's no mountain you cannot climb if you really want to. At the end you laugh at those young gorillas that went ahead of you.

Then there was Eupen and a nice camping, a little noisy.

Day 18 - 19 > Eupen - Epen - Heerlen

Back home by rail

Back home by rail

The day started a little hazy and chilly but it soon was sunny again. We descended in the valley of the river Geul and just followed it down stream. An easy ride passing our border. Back in Holland we cycled around in the little villages in the very south of Limburg. Beautiful woods and old Roman architecture.

We stayed in a b&b pension, with a nice family that just started a little hotel for backpackers. Our host was a history teacher and we are still friends after all these years. One meets wonderful people when cycling around! Next day we continued north to Heerlen, when one of us didn't feel well. Stomach problems and even a little fever. After some time the patient was so weak she couldn't stay on the bicycle. Probably polluted drinking water. We hopped in the train in Heerlen and back to Eindhoven.