Due to the corona pandemic, we decided to stay close to home this year.
The idea was to cycle around Belgium, preferably on the foreign side of the borders.
We took a train from Brussels to "De Panne" to start the trip at the North Sea. Kaylie, Linda's eldest daughter joined us on the first part in the north of France.
Usually, we plan our trips based on existing long distance cycle routes for which we download different GPS tracks.
When deviating from these tracks, we create our routes using Garmin Basecamp.
This time, our only guideline was the Belgian border and as we only have roadmaps on our Garmin, we were using the App "Pocket Earth" on our phone to find the rural and dirt tracks close to the border. While this worked very fine most of the time, we of course also took rural roads which suddenly stopped in the middle of a field or we ended up at the back of a farm where a mad dog was guarding the estate.
Scrolling the settings of Pocket Earth, we found the possibility to highlight local, regional or national cycle paths and this of course made navigating a lot easier. Some of these routes were close or parallel with the Belgian border.
That way, we discovered parts of the Meuse route in France, different converted train tracks in Luxembourg, and well known cycle tracks like the Vennbahn in Germany, and the Maas route and Schelde-Rheinroute in The Netherlands.
Every country is different, different language, different food on the menu, different prices, different habits, different rules (certainly also related to Covid-19). Usually, when you go on a holiday cycle trip, you will experience this a couple of times.
Before we did this trip, we did not realise that this really happens the minute you cross a border. While we have been cycling close to the Belgian border, we still experienced cycling in 4 different countries (France, Luxembourg, Germany, The Netherlands)
If you want to do a trip, experiencing all these differences, it does not always mean that you need to be far away from your home.
Worth staying a little longer :