Belgium isn't known for dry, sunny days, but today was a beautiful exception. It was a delightful day in several ways.
One highlight was meeting a British couple who are hiking the GR5 in its entirety, from Holland to the Mediterranean. This will take them about 4 months, timed carefully with the coming birth of their first grandchild. It's easy to differentiate a long-distance hiker from a day hiker by the size of their packs! Peter and Christine were drying out their tent by the trail when I came upon them. What ensued was a lively sharing of experiences and trail conditions. I really admire them for tackling the whole route in one go, and camping, as well. I regretted parting company with them, but they were heading south, and I was going north.
The majors hills were behind me today as I began my general NW traverse across Belgium's Ardennes region. The words "bucolic" and "pastoral" kept coming to mind all morning, as narrow country roads took me through green spacious meadows. No more riverside cliffs and boulders. And somewhere between villages, I crossed the invisible linguistic border between German- and French- speaking Belgium.
My afternoon was spent going through a vast area of planted evergreens. Very lucky for me this time, no harvesting taking place! There's no wilderness in Belgium, but was still very peaceful walking today (hurray, no hills!). At one point, a spring chose the trail as its path downhill, but even that was a pleasant diversion.
Here's a little explanation of the white and red blazes that guide the hiker. The following mark indicates that you're on the right trail. Very reassuring! I always feel secure knowing that, at this precise point in time, I'm where I'm supposed to be. I have been know to say aloud to these marks, after a too -long absence, "It's about time!"
This second sign indicates that you will be making a turn to the left very soon. Good to note!
And this one basically says, "Not this way, stupid! Didn't you see that LEFT turn sign?"
After walking about 6 hours and covering around 15 miles (I take my time when I can), I arrived in Vielsam, which is in an area that has seen a lot of war. This memorial commemorates soldiers from the area who lost their lives in one of the two world wars. I have seen this in many communities in France, as well.
I had high hopes of efficiency when checking into my Holiday Inn. Oh well. The room is nice and I do have both BBC and CNN, but my room phone won't work, the wifi operates at a snail's pace, and I actually got locked into the elevator once.
I'm writing this at a pizzeria that has good wifi. And wine. And apple pie.