Not everyday in the van is a day of exploring…not on foot anyway. As we were heading home in a day we needed to make tracks from The Netherlands and ensure we were in Paris to catch our flight. As the drive was looking to be around 5 hours we decided to split it up not only to take a break and share the load but also to see some other interesting sights.
From Utrecht to Paris we stopped at Borgloon and visiting a beautiful sculpture “Reading Between The Lines”. Would you follow your satnav off a cliff? By the looks of things we would, or more like a road that doesn’t look public. This before heading off we nearly learnt the hard way to not remain glued to our phones but to observe the signage around us. We pulled into a narrow road with rows and rows of all different fruits ready to be harvested from cherries and cranberries to rows upon rows of pears. We ambled along the narrow pathway until we reached the stunning sculpture, if only the weather was nicer we’d have spent more time there and definitely got better imagery especially of all the stunning fruit. Here is where we had our first run in with the Belgian old bill and she was not impressed. Completely ignoring all the native cars parked and driving down the road we were pinpointed and pulled from the queue. Her opening line of “when you’re in our country you follow our rules” did not sit nicely with me but thankfully the much more level headed Joshua was driving and I wasn’t able to give her a peace of my mind. I mean come on now I felt like she was lumbering us in with the ignorant stereotype of brits but I would like to think we aren’t like that. We had simply followed our sat nav which directed us down a road which can I just point out took us down the road along with the other locals and they were not being sassed at like we were. After some smooth talking from my better half we were on our way without a fine, my mouth firmly closed and with a big lesson learnt.
Next stop was a little further away in the beautiful Ardennes. It was such a contrast being surrounded by greenery and nature rather than the motorways and concrete cities. The River Lesse in Dinant was our destination as we’d booked tickets to embark on a 12km Kayak downstream. The journey felt long but we knew vanlife meant not everyday was spent enjoying a new place because you need to get there first. This was our longest drive yet but with Joshua at the wheel time flew by and we enjoyed the scenery and our playlist booming through the radio.
We arrived well within time and couldn’t sit to get on the water bringing back memories of the Philippines when we were last on one in the lagoons, lets just say the water was a lot chillier here. As we took the bus up the winding roads towards the start I was a bit nervous thinking am I going to be able to do this for over 2 hours! We picked up our cards and headed down towards the starter, health and safety was well and truly out of the window. Zero instructions or even a life jacket but who cares and anyway we were excited especially when we saw the slide down to the river. The boats were loaded onto a conveyor and we hopped in before being pushed down the mini log flume. Within seconds we had puddles of the icy cold water collecting around our bums and I realised it would be a very cold couple of hours. The scenery was beautiful being submerged in nature with the calm flow of the water pulling us downstream and around the bends the work was minimal. The trees overhung the rivers edges and offered shade and the birds chirping was a beautiful sound track to the adventure. We floated past castles, gaggles of geese and even got puled into some white water. The tiny rapids were so much fun and we felt like pros skimming the foaming water and down the slopes. Our arms and core ached as we pulled into the finishing area but we felt like time had flown by and we were not chilled to the bone so very much looking forward t warming ourselves up. I can only assume this place would be even more stunning in the glorious sunshine kayaking whilst wearing a bikini and catching the rays between trees rather than our gym gear and a jumper but still we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. After a hot shower and a cup if tea we felt ready to get back on the road.
We drive between huge rock faces and alongside the stunning river before we pulled into a small village to sleep for the night. We were exhausted but it was worth it. We’d managed to shave a few hours off our travel bag to Paris at the very least and made memories along the way. It was sad to think about leaving the van for a few days. I guess its because I knew I needed to face reality when I got home. The past week or so has been like a whirlwind adventure. Something to keep my mind busy and soul happy I was scared about what home would be like. This trip was just like dipping our toes in to see what the foreseeable future has to hold for us.