A rantbox by Michiel Scholten

A little tale of just enjoying life

Here it is, finally. I wanted to post it together with a shitload of nice pictures we took, but decided in the end to just post it :) It reminds me a bit of the 'A quite verbose story about a week offline' post of a year ago, and is mainly intended for my own future reference, but here is the diary-like posting of our little vacation we took the first week of this month. Written on my Sony Clie TH55 pda btw [just _had_ to take it with me, along with the foldable wireless keyboard I bought for it].


The trip was quiet, except for the part where we got lost in Luik [stupid Belgian city :)]. Weather was nice, sunny, warm [thank Light for climate control]. Saw an old F Ford with it's two owners that shared the same age: an awesome 75 years. Still looked great!

Camping is nice too; they even speak Dutch [not the Flemish version of it :)]. Almost like home. Luckily not all the way, because this is supposed to be a vacation. Birds are great: they share the same Lebensraum as you and don't mind intruding on yours; which is great ;) Too bad they are that fast: photographing them is a pain. So instead we went out taking some pictures of the little river l'Ourthe, that secludes the camping side of the surroundings by splitting itself and flowing among the two sides of the place, and the rest of the lofty landscape we are emerged in. Ah, the silence.


Our first full day of our vacation is a wet one. We woke up with a bit of sun, but the sky turned more and more cloudy fast. When I came back from fetching some umbrellas from the car, I had to run to stay ahead of the rain. Ah well, after more than an hour of lightning, thunder and rain, it went more quiet and we went for the car. A rainy day is a perfect day to see some surroundings by car. So we did.

Now back with the tent the sun starts to break trough the clouds again. The owner of the camping says tomorrow will be better. It'd better be, otherwise I'm going to demand a free Belgian beer ;)


We went on a little field trip today: sightseeing of the direct surroundings of our little camping on foot. First a bit of the very small town Tonny, then a little bit of survival in the wet forest that lay behind it. Then on along a little stream and through the rolling landscape to another small town that seemed as sleepy as Tonny. Back we went alongside a bigger road, which was just plain boring, safe from some nice views of the little river l'Ourthe.

After some small groceries we went for a very nice meal in Bastogne [quiches are great, as is the beer], with a trip full of quite breathtaking views. You can say much about the lands of the French, but the rolling hills are beautiful when the sun's showing upon the lofty grass. Ah well, the Netherlands are great too in that respect ;)


Today was trip-to-a-castle day. After a long night [*cough*] we woke up to another not-so-sunny day. But going to Bouillon to see the big fortress they have there seemed to be a good idea nonetheless. It turned out quite ok, save from some showery moments. Even half in ruins the fortress was very impressive and large, and the show with predator birds was quite entertaining too. When we went strolling through some of the shop streets of the city to kill time before dinner, rain started and finally stopped when we where finishing our drinks after eating. All in all a nice day tho'.

Did I mention Belgian beer is great? ;)


We got bored today and went for a rather long trip to Han-sur-Lesse, where the Cave of Han is located. After paying eleven Euros each, we where driven uphill by a fast-moving and very hobbly little train/tram/thingee. Then we where split up by language and we followed our Dutch-speaking guide into a natural-looking cave entrance. Into an fascinating world of stalagmites, stalactites, curtains of chalk stone, grown by water at the astonishing rate of four centimeters a century. The guide turned out to be a student, and didn't have Dutch as mother tongue, so she spoke with a cute accent and mingled quite a few sentences. After a short light/sound show we went to the boat, which turned out to be non-functional, quite to the surprise of its driver. Another boat came to the rescue and got us out in a way too short trip. At least the cave was beautiful, but I think the entrance fee was a bit high, considering the guide wasn't even paid and relied on gifts from us tourists. But walking through a damp cave filled with cool forms made of white stone and hearing that in January, the underground river has filled that part completely, is impressive.

It was still a rainy day, and dinner had to be made outside under a tree, but all-in-all it was a lazy day, consisting for the biggest part of getting at the cave and getting back to our tent.


Rraaaahhh! /me is getting mad of this wet world. The day was mostly dry, which we used to get a nice view on the basilic [large church] of St. Hubert and the very nice little city of Durbuy. The first was YABCC [Yet Another Big Catholic Church], and the latter is the smallest city of the world [their own words], about which I don't care, but I thoroughly enjoyed its looks. It was looking exactly as it had hundreds of years ago, nicely preserved. Its castle stood dreamily at the side of the small river l'Ourthe [yeah, it's starting to sound like the green line throughout our little vacation], the various narrow streets twisting away from it. We had a lot of nice views from various points while strolling through the streets and among the river, and had even a top-down view of it from a tower at one side of the valley the town is located. A lot of free space on the memory cards in our digicams vaporized in the hours exploring Durbuy.

While at the tower, we had to seek shelter from a large shower, so when we where in the village again and had decided we had seen enough, we went back to our car, eyes flickering to the sky now and then. While driving back to the camp, we experienced quite a downpour. No, several ones. Lightning drew interesting figures on our retinas while rain made driving an adventure on its own. Ah well, we made it to the camp, only to stay in the car for another 40 minutes to wait for the rain to get bored and go away.

After eating at the cafeteria of the camp itself [surprisingly tasty :)], I tried getting our tent in better shape, as it was looking quite depressed. It didn't work out, and now we're both depressed. And everything in this tent is damp. Including me. *Sigh* If only the sun started shining for longer than 5 minutes at stretch.


This was our first day of sunshine since we arrived here, and we enjoyed it by doing little. We went tanking in Luxembourg, where fuel prices are about 20 euro cents per liter cheaper. Still quite some sum though; it's time people come up with a decent replacement for oil-based fuel. Enjoyed some nice views of hilly Luxembourg and Belgium on the way back and spent lots of our time just reading our books.


After brute force folding our camping table [the thing wouldn't cooperate], packing our stuff and tent, we went on our way back so we could be home in time for celebrating an anniversary. It was a nice, relaxing week. Too bad for the not-quite-it weather [bit chilly, we could have used some more sun], but all-in-all a good pause from our online life. Except for the 420 digital pictures we took together :)