Friday, 23rd May, 2014

Country: Belgium
Distance travelled:
Weather: clear and sunny with occasional brief showers

I woke way too early this morning considering the time we got to bed. It was, however, looking like another beautiful morning so I decided to get up anyway. We were on a bit of a time limit with the fee for the aire so had to be packed up and ready to leave before 11 am or risk having to pay for a second day and I had a few things I wanted to get done. My second attempt at an espresso worked much better but we still need some proper milk before it gets anywhere near perfect. Toast for breakfast again today.

Dragging my bike out of the garage of the van, which is something like playing Tetris in reverse, I rode off to the approximate location of another nearby geocache, which I also couldn’t find. While I was riding around attempting to pinpoint its’ location, I managed to hit the kerb and fall off my bike. I took a bit of skin off my knee and my forehead but came out OK however combined with smacking my temple on a cupboard and nearly tripping over the kerb at the aire, it wasn’t turning out to be my morning so I scuttled back to the van and theoretical safety.

Once we were all packed up, we moved the van over to the water and loo-emptying location. Someone had jammed the little roller door of the sani-station open so we didn’t have to pay for that but the water cost 50c. While the tank was filling, Mark walked over and paid for the overnight ticket which was €22.50 at an automatic machine. I think this was a little expensive especially since we didn’t need the electric hook up so I made sure to fill our water tanks up to the brim.


We were heading in the general direction of Ghent when we decided that we could both do with a day of rest. It had been a very long day yesterday and a very late night and we were marking time until Sunday and our get-together with Kris and Mihai, friends of Marks’ through work. So we pulled up and found another aire between us and Ghent to head towards instead.

On the way, we stopped at two different supermarkets looking for both milk and cordial. After some research on the internet yesterday, we discovered that Belgian people generally drink UHT milk. It is possible to find fresh milk but not common and the general consensus seems to be that there is something wrong about fresh milk since it goes off so fast. We came away with “karnemelk lait battu”. This however turned out to be a mistake since on further investigation, this is buttermilk and we had inadvertently picked up the sweetened version. Someone on the internet describes this stuff as tasting like sadness and while it wasn’t the worst thing I have ever drunk, I ended up having to mix it with UHT milk. The second bottle we bought with such high hopes will be thrown away…

Cordial is also less common than in Australia. We ended up with several bottles of siroop or sirop (obviously syrup) in flavours such as orange, mint and grenadine. Unlike the milk, this turned out to be a success since we had accidentally bought six large bottles of mineral water earlier. Mixed together, we had a cheap type of softdrink.

When we eventually reached the aire, we found it had a parking fee of €10, quite reasonable if you wanted to use the provided electricity, but again, we had no need so parked up across the road. When we arrived there was already a huge RV type motorhome there with the slide-out sides and all the bells and whistles. The location was a very out of the way spot, so I am not sure what these people were doing there. Maybe they were just passing though and needed a break like us.

I extracted my bike from the garage again and rode off to find another local geocache. Still no luck even though I had translated all the Dutch into English and checked the photos provided. I think I may just end my geocaching career since I don’t seem to have much luck at finding them. It started to rain, a common occurrence in Belgium we are told, so I rode back to the van and had a nap instead. Later in the evening Mark and I walked back to the site of the geocache and he couldn’t find it either so I think perhaps it has been removed after all.

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