Friday, May 3, 2013


The 70% chance of rain today turned into 100% sunshine. Lucky, lucky, lucky!  I'd rather be on flatter ground if and when the rain arrives.

They say it did rain all last night, though, and that was obvious in the horrible mud I had to work my around most of the morning. I actually went ankle-deep once. I think it just makes a hiker look accomplished. :-)

More cute house sightings. Brick is used a lot, as well as stone and slate shingles as siding.  It's amazing how many homes have solar panels, especially for a country known for being cloudy. I've been told it's because of the generous subsidies from the government.

Son Jon was on my mind this morning, as I heard, in the distance, part of the "soundtrack" of his life:  race cars zooming around a track. It turns out there is a big race near here tomorrow. I wish he was in it.

I was very surprised that a peat bog would show up on my path in eastern Belgium. Called the Fagne de Malchamps, it's an expansive, open natural area uphill from the hot springs town of Spa. With a solid base layer of rock, the plants there (including a lot of heather) continue to build up a spongy layer over the rock through the years. A nature trail's boardwalk led me through the area. It's good I didn't wander off the path. I learned later that in some spots, you can sink into the spongy mass, never to be seen again.

This is the source of the natural spring water of Spa, which was my destination for today. It takes 30-50 years for the water to make its way down through all that rock. There are actually 31 different "sources" of water in  the town.  As I walked down towards the town, some of the water in the streams was tinted red from its iron content.

I purposely made today another day of less walking, more touring. Getting into Spa by 2 pm gave me time to have a look at the town, charming, but slightly "shabby chic."  People have been coming here for years because of the professed curative powers of its water and the reputation of its famous casino.

But its  newer thermal establishment, up on a hillside overlooking Spa, had lots to offer. I had a very enjoyable 2 hours there, using its indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzis, sauna and "relaxation room."  With its chaise lounges, soothing music and black-light darkness, the room did its job. I have been ready to go to sleep since 6 pm.

My auberge is a very unique, 175 year old castle-like structure, with very friendly Dutch owners.  They're even doing my laundry for me

I'm ready to get some sleep now. Tomorrow will be a 32 km (20 mile) day, and I'm not sure how long it will take -- 8-9 hours?  It all depends on trail conditions and not getting off track. I'm feeling like it will be another good day. But no more mud, please!

P.S.  I just have to share this photo of my first visit to a Belgium chocolate shop. Not my last.


  1. Dogs and chocolate. A perfect day.

  2. Those dogs were barking at me and literally nipping at my heels for five minutes. I preferred the chocolate.