Gardens of Aywiers – Capturing the colours (and tastes) of autumn

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This gallery contains 16 photos.

Among the most popular events where we live are the twice yearly open days at the former Abbey of Aywiers at Couture St Germain, just a couple of kilometres down the valley from Lasne. Today the former abbey buildings are … Continue reading

Arnhem to Aarschot cycle tour. Netherlands and Flanders – just because it’s flat doesn’t make it easy!

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This gallery contains 5 photos.

A few weeks ago I found myself in the Netherlands for the opening of the new Gazelle factory in Dieren.. As this event went into the evening it required an overnight in nearby Arnhem which in turn left me wondering … Continue reading

Celebrating cycling in Bruges

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This gallery contains 18 photos.

This post is a photo gallery of cyclists and cycling taken while I was wandering the streets on our recent visit to the lovely city of Bruges. My wife calls this sort of behaviour “stalking” and seems permanently worried that … Continue reading

Impressions of Bruges – beautiful canal city of Flanders

Photo Kevin MaynePhoto Kevin Mayne

I wrote recently about Belgium’s undiscovered gems of history and tourism. Bruges in West Flanders is not one of those, it is possibly one of the two or three best known places in Belgium to visit along with the WW1 battlefields and Brussels Grand Place, especially for the English speaking world.

I have previously been there out of the main holiday season when the cobbled streets, squares and canals were not over-run by fellow tourists so it was with a little trepidation that we booked to go to Bruges on an overnight visit in early August. We hoped past pleasures were not going to be swamped by the sheer volume of people, especially as we were introducing two friends to Bruges for the first time.

No need to worry. Despite the fact that it was much busier the town retained its charm, beauty and sense of history throughout the weekend. In fact just a few minutes from the hot spots around the main market square there were oases of peace and tranquility tucked away to delight the senses, and the camera.

Photo Kevin Mayne

That is helped by the fact that the city has very low traffic volumes and speeds. It isn’t quite car free, but here the pedestrian is king, closely followed by the horse-drawn carriages, bicycles and tour boats.

Photo Kevin Mayne

Photo Kevin Mayne Photo Kevin Mayne

In visual terms there are some wonderful set piece locations that should feature in any montage, especially the views over the canals.

Photo Kevin Mayne

The open water area in front of the gate of the Beguinage is especially stunning at night.

(To see the photos below at their best click on any image in the gallery and it will appear full sized on your screen.)

But the best of Bruges also encourages me to look beyond the set piece, especially to look up above the heads of the tourists. There the Flemish stepped gables mingle with the grey rooves of the great churches and the coloured facades glowed in the sunshine of a bright day.

Of course while I was there I couldn’t help be drawn in by the fact that Bruges is one of Belgium’s top cycling towns, so in the next post I’ll post a little photo essay on the cyclists of Bruges, but for today I’ll just let these picture of the city speak for themselves Definitely one of my top recommendations for any tour of Europe, not just of Belgium.

Photo Kevin Mayne

Cycle touring rule 1. Don’t forget to stop and look.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

Another moment of poetry and wonder, delivered by the magical world of cycling.

Neerijse, Flemish Brabant, seen from the Round Flanders Cycle Route yesterday.

This isn’t just special because of the view. It is special because someone knew that this lovely section of track was there and included it in the cycle route. Between the small towns of Huldenburg and Neerijse a section of LF6 takes a diversion away from the seemingly straightforward route in the valley that connects the two towns and encourages you to climb up to the ridge above.

That might make a few people grumble, and even more so because a very short section is just loose gravel surface and not tarmac.

Should that be the case I would put it gently to those grumblers “You have forgotten why we do this”.

The whole section is beautiful with great views. This spot in particular was utterly silent apart from the birdsong and the occasional scrunch of tyres on gravel as riders drifted by. Not all of them paused to look, but I couldn’t help it.

Thank you to the cycling friend that selected this route section. You have shared a gift.