A circuitous route to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Stage One beginning in Munich, Germany ending in Jerusalem - traveling through Austria, Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Second stage from Vienna, through Germany, Czech Republic, Holland, Belgium, France and Spain.
Final destination - Santiago!

Post Script: The changeable situation in Jerusalem has led to a change in plans. The Rome to Jerusalem leg of this journey has been changed to the 'End to End' in the UK, after which the journey will resume as above in Vienna.

Saturday 28 March 2015

Leaving Belgium, for the second time, tomorrow.

Over the past week I have been in and out of three countries, border hopping as I worked my way both into Belgium, and now into France, where I will remain.

Leaving Maastricht I had a beautiful sunny, though hazy, day.  It was hot as I worked my way down the river to Liège, my first big city in Belgium.  I had hoped to catch a boat from Maastricht but they are only running on the weekend so I dipped out on that, and with the roar of traffic constantly in my ears I decided that I would hop on a train for the last few kilometres into the city.  I hadn't been successful in purchasing a guide book in Maastricht and was hoping for success in Liège.  I spent two days traipsing from one book store to another, in between getting distracted looking at things, without any luck and at the last one I discovered why.  The Belgium Friends of the Camino group only sell their guides through the website, which, being itinerant at present, was absolutely no help to me, and exceedingly frustrating.

Because I had had some problems with signs disappearing at odd times, and having absolutely no idea where the path went I decided my only option was to catch a train to the town of Huy, where I knew I could pick up a cycle path following the River Meuse to the city of Namur.

It was at this point, through the wonders of the internet, that my way connected with Sylvie, Nicholas, and their delightful family.  Sylvie kindly loaned me her guide books, sent with Nicholas to his work and collected by me in exchange for some of my heavy gear, which I reclaimed again the following evening when they opened their home to me, providing a warm welcome, a dinner of traditional Belgium dishes, and a comfy bed.  The guides meant that I had a couple of days walking through some beautiful forests, instead of along the river, though I was never far away, and have spent quite a few days walking along it too.
My "Botel" in Maastricht where I spent 2 nights.  It is moored on the River Meuse
The length of the working barges on the river was a real surprise.
Église Saint Jacques, Liège
These columns in Liège intrigued me, a contrast to the grand building behind.  Sylvie told me that they actually marked the old cathedral that once stood there.

Liège has many contrasts between old a new - here the extension to the Opera house.
Liège railway station is an extraordinary building, elegant lines and reflections throughout, and looking like a spaceship from outside!

I stayed in an old château (above and below) about 5 kms from Huy........

.......... though the view from the front door was a bit scary!

Below is the impressive church at Huy.

The square in Huy.

Nicholas walked with me from their home to the path on a beautiful sunny morning, spending time to show me an old château which is being carefully restored.  After connecting with the path I had an enjoyable walk through the forest to the town of Namur.  Having stayed in a château two nights earlier this night I stayed in a Casino, and the following night I stayed in the Abbey at Leffe, famous for its beer production, exported around the world apparently.
The château being restored in Wartet.
Walking through the forest means a climb up out of the river valley, generally followed by a descent.
The further up the River Meuse I walked the more impressive the cliffs were.
A street scene in Namur.......
.......and a river scene - near my hotel.
An impressive and different statue in Namur.

On the way to Leffe there were views across the river to interesting villages and the odd impressive château.

Leffe is just on the outskirts of Dinant, the birthplace of Adolphe Sax and this bridge has a line of oversized models of  the instruments on each side.
At the other end of Dinant stands the Rock of Bayard (left) a 40metre monolith.
The path was very close to the river (still the Meuse) at times ........
........ and going along this bit was quite scary.  I had to be very careful going around the overhanging part of rock - not a lot of space with a large pack on!
Looking across at Waulsort.

At the Abbey at Leffe I met the first pilgrims for the year.  I shared the room with two men from Germany, a young man from Holland and two women, also from Holland.  The monks fed us with a tasty dinner and breakfast.  A couple of days later, in a cafe, I met another chap from Holland, and that night in Marzee Jaap arrived at the Chambre d'Hote.  There was no restaurant in the town and so Aafke, Elisabeth, Jaap and I pooled what food we had for dinner.  A tasty meal.

The next day I had the company of Aafke and Elisabeth for the first part of the day until our paths diverged.  They have continued on towards Vezelay, while I'm on the Via Thierache now, heading for Saint Quentin, on my way to Paris.  Not only have I lost fellow pilgrims, but, after many days of its company, I have also left the River Meuse behind.
Dinner with Jaap, Elisabeth and Aafke
Elisabeth and Aafke heading into Treignes......
..... and later heading into Olloy sur Viroin, where our paths diverged.......
..... and I headed into Nismes.
Chimay.  Interestingly the villages after Nismes have been quite "grey".  The stone work in the buildings has been of grey stone, though the newer buildings on the outskirts of the villages are often bricks of various colours. 


  1. I've never been to Belgium, but it looks like a fascinating place- such variety in what you saw. And yes, that path looked a little slippery so close to the river- but what a lovely river to walk beside! Preparations going ahead here. Only four days now before I leave home!

    1. Have a wonderful time. You'll get a mix of weather - warm and sunny one day, cold the next, but it will get better, and no doubt in Italy there leaves will be well and truly be dressing the trees. Well compare notes when we return! Have a wonderful journey.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Wonderful pictures of our country, with an Australian point of view. Such a joy reading from you Janet. We think about you everyday and we wish you a very nice Camino to Saint Quentin ! Sylvie, Nicolas and the children