A to Z of Belgium || Hiking in Furfooz Nature Reserve

furfooz

We’re making progress! We’ve made it up to F in this A to Z business. We’re getting there! Not by the end of the year, but we’re getting there all the same. Why rush the adventures, that’s what I keep telling myself. Sounds so much better than you suck at this.

F was a tough one! The options were pretty limited, and at first we were going to head to the Flanders Fields near Ieper (Ypres) and visit the Commonwealth cemeteries from the War and go for a bit of a walk, but we didn’t really fancy that. History not really being our thing and all that. So we did some late night internet trawling, on Friday night – we are nothing but organised here – and the next thing, we were up and on the train to Furfooz Nature Reserve down near Dinant in Wallonia. If we’d had known this, we probably would have combined this little hike with our trip to Dinant for D, oh well.

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You’ll probably be shocked to hear, but we didn’t take our bikes! Shocked-face emoji, or something. I just fancied a hike and since the reserve was so close to the train station, there was no need for the bikes. And, for a change, things went nicely to plan. We got all the right trains, we only had to walk 2/3km from the train station to get to the park, spent a few hours following the trail, walked back to the station and even managed to be home a little earlier than planned as we made a different train. It was all jolly good.

What we didn’t know was that Furfooz is a kayaking hot spot. There were many, many people kayaking down the river but hardly any one going for a walk. That just means more peace and quiet for me!

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The walk to the park was nice and easy, straight down the river’s edge. It only got difficult when we decided to take a different route up the hill to check out a cave we could see. This was completely unnecessary as the route would have taken us that way had we just continued on. But what’s a hike without crawling up an incredibly steep hill with shoes that are absolutely not suitable. I don’t know.

Entrance to the park was €4 each, which seemed reasonable, and given how much my legs ached the next day, I think I got my monies worth. Although most of the ache was more than likely down to not having good hiking boots (there were a lot of steps and rocks to walk over). I will definitely be investing in a good pair of boots some time in the future!

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I wish I had a little more to say about our day out, but there wasn’t much else. A lot of walking, a lot of stair climbing and a few caves to see.

Actually the caves were the best part, I’ve not seen any before and although these weren’t huge, they were big enough for you to go inside and at least be in a cave. That was cool. We even spied the odd bat here and there too! Extra cool!

I wish my photos could do justice to the scale of them. I think the one with Kris in the photo does the best job of that, but the fourth photo of that section above was a massive cave, that went downwards from the path, but I couldn’t get myself in a position where I could capture the whole thing in a photos. Sigh. It would have been nice to have gone down to the mouth of the cave, but it was far too steep and the big stop sign sort of said otherwise.

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What else did we see? Old roman baths, although not as old as they technically were, there were more of a replica. That’s the little building in the photos up there. Many kayaks, I already mentioned that. Some gorgeous views, see the photos just up there! Where you can see the train line, that’s where we started the day.

Also, those two insects (the last photos in the second set), I’m curious to know what they are. I haven’t looked it up yet, so I’m going to leave this post here and consult Mr. Google.

A good day indeed. Any advice for the purchasing of hiking boots? It’s not something I’ve looked into much at the moment, so I’d like to hear other people’s thoughts on that. If you have any that is! Happy Monday! 

Linking up with Van, Marcella, Lauren and Isabel for Wanderful Wednesday.

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A To Z of Belgium || An Afternoon in Enghien

Life As Unusuals | Lifestyle and travel blog. A to Z of Belgium, an afternoon in Enghien

Ah, the elusive A to Z of Belgium blog series.

I’m still working on it. I’m still fighting against the impossibility of time to get it done before the end of the year.

I am not succeeding.

In fact, I outright suck at this quest.

It’s not all my fault. Sure, sometimes I just don’t fancy going to a place that begins with D, and other times I want to go to another place that begins with T and I’m torn between using a place up before I get to it’s letter or using it for T and just blogging about it when I (eventually) get to that letter. Then there’s the times where I just don’t want to anything. And then there’s every other time: where it’s raining.

The struggle is real. The struggle is the Belgian weather forecast.

But, I’m up to E.

And E is for Enghien!

Life As Unusuals | Lifestyle and travel blog. Enghien, Belgium. Life As Unusuals | Lifestyle and travel blog. Enghien, Belgium. Life As Unusuals | Lifestyle and travel blog. Enghien, Belgium. Life As Unusuals | Lifestyle and travel blog. Enghien, Belgium. Life As Unusuals | Lifestyle and travel blog. Enghien, Belgium.

Turns out, there’s very few places in Belgium that begin with E.

It also turns out that the only reason we were heading to Enghien – the castle and, its park and gardens – were closed on the weekend we chose to go. Instead, the usually free grounds now cost €5 to enter the Miniature Models exhibition that had taken over the entire park.

I came for the nature. I did not come for scale models of tanks.

It’s ok though, we only cycled 70km to get there. It only took 4 hours of solid cycling. It’s not like the castle and park made up 75% of the town. Oh wait. It did.

We weren’t bitter. We parked our bikes in the car park for the castle grounds (oh the irony) and we had a little wander about the town, took some photos to prove we went there, and then we got the train home.

To add insult to injury, we bought tickets for the train since we’d left our rail passes at home. Turns out, they were sitting in my handlebar bag the entire time. Could have saved myself €9. Could have paid to go into the damn exhibition with that €9.

Life As Unusuals | Lifestyle and travel blog. Enghien, Belgium. Life As Unusuals | Lifestyle and travel blog. Enghien, Belgium. Life As Unusuals | Lifestyle and travel blog. Enghien, Belgium. Life As Unusuals | Lifestyle and travel blog. Enghien, Belgium. Life As Unusuals | Lifestyle and travel blog. Enghien, Belgium.

Drama aside, it was quite a nice little town. But seriously, I wanted to see a castle.

Guess we’ll just have to cycle back.

Like heck we will.

Here’s hoping for better luck with F. So, do you like model trains or tanks and shizz?

Linking up with Lisa for Life Thru The Lens

Linking up with Van, Marcella, Lauren and Isabel for Wanderful Wednesday.

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Weekend Snapshots || 70km by bike, no problem

Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem.

I realise that I continually talk about riding my bike. It’s not to sound like a pompous douche, it’s just that I have no other form of transport. If I had a car, I’d be just as douchey writing about how I drive everywhere all the time. But, you know, the planet and stuff, so I have a bike and make douchey eco-comments instead.

So yes, another weekend and another bike ride. Sue me, the sun was out. It hardly ever happens here. I had to make the most of it.

I even had plans to visit somewhere, Enghiem, that elusive E in my ongoing A to Z of Belgium project which is still evading me. Seriously, the plans were set in stone. We had the route written on a post-it and everything.

Then I had a flat tyre.

Then we had to Google how to change said tyre and how to work my 5-year-old puncture repair kit. Spoiler alert: the first attempt was a shamble.

The second attempt was a bit more successful and is still holding strong so that’s a good thing.

The rest of the time was spent trying to understand why a round tyre would not becoming round when inflated. This lead to much frustration on the part of Mr. Oh-so-cool Kris and a little bit of laughing on my part. Who knew, Kris’ uber cool composure could be shattered by a tyre.

In the end, we managed to solve all the problems (puncture: keep fixing it until the repair sticks. Tyre: pump it up until it pops into shape when you give it a tug), it was time to head off to Enghien.

Or not.

It was now too late to cycle out to Enghiem, since it was 70km away and then we’d want to look around and finally the train back home at the end of the day.

So instead, we picked ourselves a route from the cycle-node network and decided that we’d spend the rest of the day cycling 70km from Leuven to Aarschot and back again.

Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. nature themed street art Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. coot bird in nest Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. Juvenile cootLife As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. field view Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. tunnel of trees

You might think this was crazy, given how much I weeped about 30km when we went to the Ardennes, but the best thing about Flanders is that is just so flat.

So 70km, in a mostly flat route is pretty easy. Well, pretty easy in that I cycle 12km minimum most days of the week, have been doing it for a while and have been building up my distance on the weekend too kind of way. Also known as: being smug and sounding douchey.

Dammit, I was trying to reduce the levels of douchery.

Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. farm yard gate Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. vineyard and field view Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. village road Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. town view Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. windmill in Belgium Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. bee collecting nectar from sunflower

There were a couple of highlights from our little trip like:

  • Very few hills
  • A friendly gentleman and his dog that stopped to chat to us whilst we were snacking on the side of the road.
  • Mostly good weather
  • Vineyards to see – not because I drink wine, but because I like the rows of grape bushes (trees?)
  • Orchards – for the same reasons as vineyards
  • Seeing some sunflowers in bloom
  • Getting to the end and not feeling like I might die

Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. sunflowers in bloom Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. Female mallard in water swimming Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. Old historic european tower, Belgium Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. sunflowers in bloom Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. River with grass sides Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. Domestic duck in water swimmingLife As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. Heron bird looking for food at riverside Life As Unusuals || Lifestyle and travel blog. Weekend Snapshots :: 70km by bike? No problem. Railway lines.

It was a good weekend. I would say, I’ll try not to bang on about riding my bike so much, but that would be a lie. What did you get up to this weekend?

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