What could be worse? An international border with no controls, no fences, no barbed wire keeping “foreigners” out, no armed police, no vicious dogs, nothing except people and vehicles moving freely, trade going on unhindered, no customs, no checks, no immigration, etc. And both countries benefitting from it. I wanted to take a picture of a sign at the border saying e.g. “Welcome to Belgium” or “Welcome to France” but there wern’t any – if you hadn’t looked on a map you’d never know you’d changed countries.
So today I started in France, went into Belgium, back into France and back into Belgium again, quickly back into France before returning to Belgium before a … I wont list them all but 15 border crossings and all within the first few miles and nobody asking for my passport. And when Farage, Blobby Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Jenkin, et. al. gets their way …
Wallonia in a less than a day. Go in, look (a little), depart. But Wallonia’s claims to fame include:
1. Audrey Hepburn (from Wallonia)
2. Magritte (from Wallonia)
3. Inspector Maigret (written by a Wallonian, probably in Wallonia)
4. Home of French Fries (controversial but said to be US forces who heard French being spoken and made assumptions)
5. Wallonia does NOT want independence
6. It was Wallonia that blocked the EU trade deal with Canada.
And to make life really challenging in Wallonia, their French really is different. E.g. the french for 90 is “quatre-vingt-dix” whilst the Wallonians use “nonante”.
But I’ve moved on and and am now in Flanders, in a campsite in the outskirts of Gent (or Ghent). Quite a distance to get here but no hills so quite fast but still quite a distance. Campsite is large and looks like it’s part of the main sports complex for the area. Room for over 230 “pitches” (tents/caravans/campingcars). And it’s got a shop and a cafe. Except I tripped on a rock and have badly bruised my ribs & sternum. Hopefully better tomorrow.
Found a nearby shop with a better GPS so I had to pay them a visit (and a lot of money). Hopefully this one will work better (place I purchased the other one from has sort of agreed a refund subject to …)
Despite my ongoing moaning about hills and tired legs, it’s now ages since I got off and pushed. I have stopped for rests but I can’t remember when I last got off and pushed it’s so long ago now.
And I just realised that according to Wikipedia yesterday I exceeded the “traditional” Lands End to John o’Groats cycle distance of 847 miles (though there is no official route so everybody does different distances). Yesterday (or maybe the day before) my total distance got to 888 miles. Not really important.
And if I’m still in Belgium tomorrow maybe I’ll have to start with the jokes about Belgium.
Houplines (Lille) to Gent (Belgium)
Today 64 miles (including cycling to GPS shop).