15th April. Vianen, The Netherlands.

We left the Citadel car park after another quiet night, it had been a very good place to stay.  It was drizzling when we woke up, which made us feel quite at home, we expect the weather to be mankey over a Public Holiday.

Darren FINALLY persuaded the SAT NAV that we did NOT want to drive through Dinant on the restricted roads, it was adamant that we did! (a stern talking to sorted it out)

I was raining so much during the journey that the tyres kept slipping whenever Darren tried to pull away from a roundabout!  Thank goodness we weren’t driving through a mountainous country this time!  I kept getting flash backs of the horror of trying to drive up the cobbled hill to the walled town in Portugal. (http://hartfree-bright.co.uk/21st-march-castelo-de-monsaraz-portugal/)

The route Darren had chosen to take us up to Vianen, through the centre of Belgium, was very pretty.  We passed through an area where there were fields of trees with blossom on them, we saw signs later on which mentioned apples and cherries so we assume that must be the crop they’re growing.  The trees looked so beautiful in bloom.

We stopped for lunch at a service station an hour from our destination and parked behind a lorry.  A short while after we’d parked a man got out of the back of the container that had been left on the upper parking area then he walked down the slope to the lorry in front of us.  Nothing too strange about that in itself except he was wearing exercise clothes, bright yellow shorts, t-shirt and trainers and he was carrying dumbbells which he placed on the ground next to the lorry before going back up to the container and getting a sports bag and some more exercise equipment!  When we passed the lorry on our way out he’d changed out of his exercise gear.  This begs the question are there containers dotted around the Netherlands where lorry drivers can exercise to break up their journey?  One of the other containers had a table in it and the lorry drivers were sitting in it having their lunch out of the wind.  An inspired use for the back of a lorry.

The sandwiches we bought from the service station were gorgeous, I hadn’t been expecting to have a freshly made sandwich but that’s what I got, we also had a coffee that filled the cup, which was a nice surprise.

It was a relief to arrive at Vianen, we hadn’t been sure about moving over the Easter weekend in case everywhere was full but although there were already six motorhomes parked in the car park there was still plenty of room.

I was slightly disappointed to see that although there was a canal behind us and a small river in front of us we were too low to see them but as the main reason for staying here is so that Darren can work and I can catch up with some photos that was probably a good thing, it cuts down on the distractions.

Our legs were in desperate need of a stretch so we wandered into the town.   As we walked along the path to the town someone suddenly hooted at us and as we turned towards the sound we saw a car flash past with someone waving.  A moment later he came to a raised roundabout the edge of which sloped down to the road, I commented to Darren that it was strange that the car was driving round it with the wheels of the passenger side up on the roundabout, then it suddenly occurred to me that he was driving the wrong way round the roundabout and was trying to get out of the way of the unfortunate driver who had just entered it.  Somehow he succeeded in missing the other car, most strange but even stranger was that there was no angry blast on the horn as there would have been in many other countries!

Vianen is a walled town, it seems quite small but it has some fancy buildings in it.

Old ‘eagle eye’ (Hey!  Less of the old) spotted an ice cream shop as soon as we entered the town so we had to go in and get some.  It was lovely ice cream, it wasn’t really the weather associated with eating ice cream, in fact we were wearing numerous layers of clothing because the wind was biting, however we’ve eaten ice cream at the Arctic Circle so the weather definitely wasn’t going to stop us from buying one.  As we came out of the shop we saw a sight you don’t see every day, a man carrying a very shiny brass instrument, it was almost as big as him.

This town must be one of the friendliest we’ve come across during our travels.  We received a lovely smile from the man serving the ice cream, a HUGE smile from a lady who was stopping to let us cross the road, a smile, a wave and an apology from a lady who thought she had cycled into my photo and another from a man who thought he had done the same thing, he cheekily pulled his hat down to pretend to hide as he cycled past.   Smiles are so rare these days that I have clear memories of people who have beamed at us on this trip, that’s not to say that we haven’t met lots of very friendly, happy people, just that it’s unusual to receive a big smile too.


As we were strolling down the high street admiring the buildings a stork suddenly flew overhead, much to my excitement, I thought we’d left those behind.  We caught sight of his nest high up on a chimney behind a beautifully decorated building.  This nest was very neat unlike the nests we’ve seen up until now.

The town had two very big churches, one of them was extremely grand and the gate that we walked through on our way back to the van was also decorated.  We had a short walk back along beside the canal and stopped to watch a little red boat docking.

Back at the van we had some unexpected entertainment laid on for us.  Darren happened to glance out of the window just as someone cycled past and Darren commented on the bright yellow panniers that the cyclist had, a short while later he saw another bike with bright yellow panniers and just as he was mentioning it a group of people riding bikes with the same yellow panniers came past.  There was writing on the panniers advertising a cycling tour, the thing that confused us was that the cyclists didn’t go anywhere they just rode round and round the car park for about half an hour, only ringing the changes by sometimes cycling between the vans and sometimes cycling along the little lane in front of the car park, then as if by magic they suddenly all vanished.  Very strange!

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