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For the last 11 years I have travelled to Belgium for Easter to meet up with friends. At first it was on motorbikes, but as I’ve gotten older this has changed, and in the last few years I have gone by car. Late in 2017 I purchased a Hymer motorhome with the plan to travel around Europe.

 

My Grand Tour starts this year and it seems to make sense to start my tour from Belgium at Easter. The initial plan is to begin in Ghent, then onwards to the Netherlands, with a stop at Arnhem in particular.

 

I need to get to Berlin for the end of April as I want to attend a friends art show.

 

 

 

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Plans change!

Mileage from Ghent to Keukenhof: 145. Average fuel consumption: 27.80mpg.

One of the advantages of being a motorhome owner and touring in it is the fact that you can more or less go where and when you please. My original plans were to leave Camping Blaarmeersen in Ghent www.camping.blaarmeersen.be last Thursday and head to Holland and the Dutch bulb fields that day. Unfortunately, because my domestic water pump was not working I had to wait for a replacement from Becks in Norfolk to arrive which it did on Thursday afternoon. The staff at the campsite called the local motorhome dealers and arranged for it to be fitted the next day Friday, so a small delay but no problems.

IMG_3285Ghent at night.

What have I been up to since my last blog? Not a lot really. The weather has not been very kind to us here with lots of constant and heavy rain, making some areas of the site waterlogged. But I have been busy though, planning my route to Keukenhof and the bulb fields and also where I will stay for the few days I hope to be there. Fortunately there is an off road (wild camping) site just 1km away and just a short cycle away, so that is my choice.

On Tuesday I cycled into Ghent which was so easy and enjoyable. It is indeed a pleasure to cycle in Belgium because of the cycle ways. I found the main post office sent off some post and had some lunch. Ghent is a really nice city and like many towns and cities in Belgium it has many independent shops both large and small. The cycle ride back was easy, just following the canal back to the campsite.

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Wednesday & Thursday were chilling days because of the weather and catching up on things that have been left behind, so actually felt good. Friday arrived and Cookie had her new water pump fitted and all is well with the world! Hot water, shower and taps working and of course the toilet flushes properly! The afternoon sees me getting Cookie ready for the journey to Holland the next day, including a quick shop at Aldi for their Greek yogurt which really is the best for the price. And a bigger shop at Carrefour’s on Saturday along with diesel to see me through.

Things to remember when cycling in Ghent, or any other city in Belgium. Remember to cycle on the right side of the cycle track. Watch out for tramlines! Saw a few cyclist get caught in them and come off. Wear a whistle around your neck, to many silly people walking out in front of you. Unfortunately, the streets are not paved with gold but very uneven cobble stones. Again, as are many Belgium cities are! Luckily, I remembered most of those.

Holland, Keukenhof and beyond to follow.

 

 

 

 

The journey begins!

Mileage from Reading to Ghent: 218. Average fuel consumption 27.80 mpg.

I had booked myself an overnight stop at The Drum inn, Ashford a well-known pub/stopover point near the Eurotunnel terminal. Many pubs with large grounds have now added showers and toilets to their facilities, and offer them as stopovers for caravans and motorhomes, which is a handy, inexpensive option to the local camping sites. I arrived at the terminal early the next morning, so I checked in and managed to get an earlier train to Calais!

I have always found that driving in Europe is a dream, and in a motorhome it’s even better. The journey along the motorway to Ghent was very pleasant, and with a quick snack stop just inside Belgium I arrived at the campsite, Camping Blaarmeersen (www.blaarmeersen.be), in the early afternoon. The campsite is quite large, and split into small areas for about 9 or 10 units. They do have hook ups, but beware as some points could need up to 50m of EHU cable! Then the fun began! After filling up with water, I realised that the domestic water pump had stopped working. I checked the fuse and other options all to no avail, so on I went to Facebook and the Hymer owners section for some great advice on how to resolve the issue,. Unfortunately this didn’t work, so next was a phone call to my dealership, Becks, who were wonderful and have posted a replacement pump to arrive at the campsite later this week, and the helpful people at the reception desk at the campsite called a local dealer for me, who will fit the replacement as soon as it arrives.500 different beers500 different beers which is fairly standard for some bars in Belgium.

After all that, Good Friday found me in Ghent, a short bus ride away (I later found out that buses are free to use on Sundays!), to meet up with my friends Lainy and Ken from my biking days, and some wandering around the very busy and beautiful city of Ghent. St Bavo’s Cathedral is just stunning and beautiful, the Leie canal is busy with trip boats, and various sizes of house boats were moored up. Over the next couple of days we strolled all over town, taking in the wonderful flower market, doing some window shopping, stopping at coffee shops and eating at lots of nice independent small and large restaurants.

A bicycle made for 3!A bicycle made for 3. Ghent is mainly car free so everyone gets around on bikes or the trams.

img_3278.jpgA busy canal side.

IMG_3290The canal by night.

There are many good restaurants in Ghent, I would recommend trying the following restaurants:

Three Monkeys (https://www.three-monkeys-ghent.com/ for a selection of 50 different versions of omelettes, burgers and finger food.

Brasserie Savarin (http://www.brasserie-savarin.be/) a really great Ghent stew: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/user/4862541/recipe/stoofvlees-flemish-beef-stew

5th Gök (http://www.5thgok.be/ ) Great variety of food. Their toasted sandwiches were really good and the pasta looked good as well.

Hopefully, my water pump will arrive within the next couple of days and then I am heading for Holland and the tulip fields.