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Biking in Belgium (and the Netherlands)

Six days. Two countries. Three hundred kilometres. Fourteen beers. 

Chet and his friend Hermann recently headed across the channel to explore a couple of the world's most cycle friendly countries. They jumped on the Eurostar from London to Brussels (£30 to bring your bike) and then took the train onwards to Ghent, where they jumped into the saddle. 

From there it was onwards to Antwerp, Gorinchem, Haarzuilens, Utrecht and Texel, and then back down to Bruges. Chet's panniers were so full that his bike almost toppled over! He suggests packing a little lighter - 'all you really need is your waterproofs, a bike maintenance kit, some clothes, and a Beeline'. 

Here are some of their photos from the road

 

Ghent to Antwerp

 

Chet and Hermann toasted the start of their holiday with some of Ghent's finest beer, some sausage and mash, and a boat trip around the city. 

From Ghent it was onwards to Antwerp along the Schledt. Where they had to cross it, there were plenty of boats set up to take them across for free. Nice! 

Antwerp into Netherlands

Fuelled by Belgian waffles (which are incidentally super cycling snacks) Chet and Hermann continued along the canals towards the Dutch-Belgian border. Another (free) snack presented itself in the way of an apple tree. The only problem was that the only apple left on it was right in the middle. But that's not a problem for these intrepid explorers...

...they did get the apple and it was delicious - in case you were wondering!

 

Going Dutch

Once over the border, Chet and Hermann's first stop was at a food market where they found stroopwafels being freshly made. Irresistible!

They spent the night in the lovely little historic shipping town of Gorinchem before cycling onwards to the tiny village of Haarzuilens which happens to be home to a famous castle. The Kasteel de Haar is (according to its website) the 'biggest and most luxurious castle in the Netherlands'! For over a century the van Zuylen van Nijevelt van de Haar family spent every September at their castle - hosting some legendary dinner parties with guests including Coco Chanel, Gregory Peck, Yves Saint Laurent and Brigitte Bardot. 

 Chet and Hermann were there in September but unfortunately the tradition has now ceased (we're sure that they would have been invited otherwise). Instead, they spent a couple of hours having a look round. 

Once they'd arrived in Utrecht, Chet and Hermann jumped straight on a train and headed up to the island of Texel - they had wanted to head up to the islands and Texel looked alright on the map so off they went! 

Texel

Texel provided a super couple of days of cycling along coastal routes and taking in the 'quaint island-y feel'. Chet and Hermann stayed in a tiny town that had just one restaurant, and a whiskey bar which house over 3,500 bottles different single malt Scotches. How about that for a whiskey collection? 

The lighthouse offers not only beautiful views across Texel, the sea, and neighbouring islands but is also something of an architectural oddity as a Russian doll of a lighthouse. When the original lighthouse started to crumble a new lighthouse was simply built around the outside of it - you can now step between the buildings. 

 

Bruges and back

After a couple of days of coastal bliss, Chet and Hermann headed back south (by train) to Bruges. The beautiful city of Bruges loves its beer so much that they actually pipe it through the streets! Chet filled his panniers with some, and some chocolate, and headed back home.