The Ardennes, situated in the south-east of Belgium, are one of nature’s unspoilt areas, rich in fauna and flora, with vast forests of broadleaf and fir, hills and fast flowing rivers. Visitors can wander through the many picturesque villages nestling in the valleys where traditions and folklore still live on, and where the region’s arts and crafts can be enjoyed. Springtime in the Ardennes is the season for walking, cycling, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Horse riding, climbing and mountain biking are other examples of popular sports in the Ardennes. The keen mountaineer has an exciting choice of challenges. In Winter, the Ardennes are a fun paradise for downhill and cross country skiers, or perhaps you prefer tobogganing and snow scooter racing. There is action, even underground. Some of the caves are certainly worth a visit.
Before Winter finally got here, a few of us decided to go camping in Belgium, partly because of the crazy rules that come with camping in the Netherlands, so to avoid the politics of it, we descended on the South of Belgium
Since moving to The Netherlands, i must admit that the place has not quite grown on me, six months and i hardly speak the language (not from the lack of trying), the food is terrible, not to mention the beer, and the highlight of my time here are the mini adventures i take cycling over the weekend
It is no wonder then that i have spent a great deal of my time in Belgium, in particular the South where French is spoken and the nature is wild, and when it all fails, i can call on a friend who lives in an apartment overlooking the river in Liege
Anyway, camping in the Ardennes.
I went with Pascal, a German living just a bit over the German /NL border and lives in a camper van, groovy. We agreed to meet somewhere at a train station and off we went , armed with alcohol free beer – see Pascal was trying to detox himself from smoking and drinking and was washing down crates of alcohol free beer, fair to say by the end of the first night he failed and got totally smashed 😦
But with our alcohol free beer, we were off adventuring, nothing makes me as happy as being on the road again, windows down, joining in the weekend traffic, which sadly grabbed us just in Maastricht, some 20km from Liege (in Belgium)
Our destination was this place
However, i also had a rendeavous in Brussels to pick up a tent and sleeping mat from someone on freecyle. I liked the idea of spending the night in my own tent that i did not mind a little detour, so this we did. Seeing as i did not know where we were going, i agree with Pascal that i would go with him to the camping place, then make my way to Brussels, believing with all my heart that i would make it to Brussels and back in no time. Of course i was wrong, but i was able to go to Brussels, pick up the tent and sleeping back, engage in a broken french conversation with an old woman who was clearly drunk and disillusioned, made it to Brussels central, realised the train to Liege (it was the closest main station to the camping wilderness) was not leaving for another 30 minutes, stopped to talk to 2 Iranian Azeriz working in a shaurma shop, practiced the old farsi, wished them well and i was off on the journey back to Liege
Now at this point, i knew that there was no way that i would make it to the camping place because the train from Brussels to Liege would only get there a little after midnight. But i was comforted in knowing that i had a tent, sleeping bag/mat and my wits about me, what more could i ask for? Then it hit me, i had friends in Liege, so… and luckily my phone still had a bit of battery so i called Niko and my knight was indeed in town and my bed in his apartment was made 🙂
exhausted, i made it to Niko’s around 1am and passed out… in the morning, we had our customary coffee and philosophy chat about life, we discussed the Desmond tutu letter: Desmond Tutu plea to the people of Israel
Then i had to leave and finally get to that camping spot…
It was not too eventful this time, in fact i did not feel so bad about leaving Liege because i could not wait to go camping
it took practically all day to get there, which was not helped by the rain and lack of rides, but some of the highlights included, me scavenging for some really delicious pears, i wish that i could take the entire tree with me, failing to get a ride and walking all the way through forest to the camping site, getting to the village in one piece and seeing friendly faces, and then party time!!
In all, i need to return to Belgium, if not for the camping, then atleast for the beer and wild parties