Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bicycling Belgium

Since it finally got really nice out recently, we took a nice bicycle trip from Gent to Brugge. Belgium is a bicyclists paradise, and not just within cities. They developed a network of dedicated bicycle paths connecting various cities, through rural farmlands, highlighting different landscapes and items of historical interest, and complete with indicator signs so you know how to get where you want to go. You can easily bicycle to many places in Belgium. Plus, most of the country is about as flat as Chicago, so no difficulties in climbing hills.

The ride to Brugge was about 50 km (31 mi). We stopped once for a beer by a canal in a tiny town, once for lunch, and plenty of short breaks here and there to take in the scenery and refuel.

Bicycling the countryside is also exceptionally cool due to the various WWII relics and memorials you can see that are not necessarily published tourist attractions. Small but interesting tidbits of history. Part of this route was filled with concrete bunkers that the Germans built in WWII. Apparently they were used for storage and the Germans had planes that took off from the adjacent canals. The walls of the bunkers are 1 meter (3 ft) thick!!! They are also quite typical of WWII bunker (such as ones in Scotland and north of San Francisco) in that their roofs were covered in grass to camouflage them from bombers. Now they have bats living in them :) There was also a memorial to 52 Canadian soldiers who died at that location. The memorial was comprised entirely of scrapped tank parts.

You know your in a tiny town when you can stop in the middle of the main road.

rural bicycle path

Belgian beer break!

This town's highlight. And emptiness on a Saturday afternoon.

WWII bunkers built by the Germans.

Memorial to Canadian soldiers made of tank parts.

Lunch time in another small town!

Flea market in Brugge

Having an ice cream in Brugge

The concrete was oh so comfortable for a nap after a long day. Brugge's central plaza.

1 comment:

  1. I was in Belgium last summer with my folding bike, and those inter-city bike routes were so much fun, and such a great way to see the country. Did you catch any of the Ronde van Vlanderen yesterday?


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