Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 3 - Europe 2011

Day 3 Saturday, May 28, 2011 Breda, NL to Brussels, BEL
Trip 127.62 kms Time 8:29:59 Average 15.28 kph (I think I spent about 20 kms getting lost)

Having had a good night's rest I was up bright and early (6 AM) to get an early start for Brussels. When I went to the breakfast room at 6:30 it was still locked up. I went over to the restaurant next door and the manager told me breakfast wasn't until 7 AM on weekends. I went back to my room and did some packing while waiting. At 7 I again checked the breakfast room and it was still locked up. Then I noticed a sign that said breakfast wasn't served until 8 AM on weekends. I went back over to the restaurant/hotel thinking I would ask for a refund and go somewhere else for b'fast. When I told the manager that b'fast wasn't until 8 AM next door he said I could have b'fast in the restaurant. Wow!!! what a spread. There was juice, bread, buns, baguette, cereals, eggs, bacon, cheeses, cold cuts, fruit, yogurt, etc. Needless to say I had a very good b'fast.

I then went back to my room to finish packing and just as I was loading my panniers on my bike noticed that my handlebar pannier was missing. I had forgotten it in the restaurant in my hurry to leave once I had stuffed my jersey pocket with a hard boiled egg, etc which I would save for lunch later. I quickly went back to the restaurant and my pannier was still sitting on the chair where I had left it. Wew!!! What a relief.

The night before I had gone on Google Maps and checked out the route from Breda to Brussels and had written down all the villages, towns, cities that I would be passing trough on my way. Using the list I had made I set up my GPS for the next village which was Rijsbergen about 16 kms down the N263. I had to negotiate my way through several side streets before reaching the main road but once there I was only able to cycle at around 18 kph due to a head wind which I was to have to put up with for most of the day.

Some of the towns I passed through were Zundert, Gooreind, Merksem, Boom, Meise, and finally Brussels. Progress was quite slow due to that damn head wind, road works (usually in town) and detours. I managed to reach the Dutch/Belgium border at around 10 AM. The road conditions changed quite dramatically. Much rougher and not so well maintained as they were in Holland. I stopped for a break at 10:30 to eat a sausage pastry which I had bought in a bakery in Holland. It had a rich spicy tomato ketchup like sauce baked into the pastry with the sausage which was very tasty.

Eventually I reached the outskirts of Antwerp. This is where the Belgian road works began. When the Belgians tear up a street to do repairs they block it off completely. Well almost. I was still able to get through with my bike but eventually paid the price for ignoring the detour signs. I ended up having to negotiate several stretches of very rough gravel. Getting through Antwerp took about 2 hours. Very complicated GPS directions. Had to reset it several times. It was quite a relief to finally get out of Antwerp. By this time I was getting pretty hungry so decided to stop at a corner gas station to see if I could get a snack. There was a sandwich bar but it was closed on weekends. The attendant very kindly directed me back down the street to a Snack Shack which was just 50 metres away. It was set back from the main road and somehow I had missed it when passing by earlier. I was able to order a very tasty ham, cheese, vegetables, mayo sub on a baguette with a large diet coke for 3.45 E. There were tables and chairs set out on the patio in front of the shop so I was able to sit outside and enjoy a pleasant lunch. It was a very popular place as a steady stream of customers kept coming and going while I sat and enjoyed my meal.

I had told Vivien, my friend who lives in Brussels, that I would be arriving around 4 PM. I stopped to take a picture of the "Welcome to Brussels" sign at 10:09 AM which would be 4:09 PM local time. I then set up my GPS to find 397 ave. AJ Slegers which was about another 8.6 kms or so my GPS reckoned. I somehow managed to get way off track and after cycling 5 or 6 kms was still no where near Woluwe St. Lambert the district that Vivien lived in. That gave me the idea to reset the GPS for Woluwe St. Lambert which was still 8.3 kms away. This seemed to be the right way to go as soon I was not far from my destination. But by this time it was getting quite late, going on 6 PM so I stopped at a corner bar and went in to call Vivien to let her know that I had run into some difficulty finding her place and should be there in another half hour or so. With about 3 kms to go my GPS battery started giving me a warning that the battey was about to die. At this point I had covered over 120 kms and so was I about to die!!! I stopped to write down all the directions that were left to do (about a dozen of them) and continued on my way. With about three more turns to go the GPS died. I stopped several people to ask for directions to Slegers since I was so close. The third person I asked was able to help out and I finally arrived at 397 ave. A.J. Slegers at 6:30 PM.

I've tried to upload a couple of pictures that I've taken so far but it was taking forever so had to give up.

Tot Straks, Roly

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