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Messages - Belgium

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International / Re: Suggested Routes or Tours in the Netherlands?
« on: May 12, 2012, 05:24:24 pm »
I've read that April in the Netherlands is spectacular.

Well, actually this april and may were absolutely terrible for bicycle tourism.  Coldish and buckets of rain.  But maybe 2013 will be different!

Not bad.  When it comes to absolute numbers, larger countries have associations with more members.  Logical.
But I was clever enough to introduce in my initial message also the size of the population.  ;)
I was rather thinking of 'Vrienden op de Fiets' (Friends on the Bike), with most of it's 70000 members speaking Dutch (because of living in the Netherlands or in Flanders).  On a population of 22 million. 
I think we all know there's no country in the world where the bicycle is so omnipresent, not only for recreational purposes but in daily life as well and that's the Netherlands.

I know one, but won't unveil yet its name because yours may be bigger ;-)
My favourite one has 70.000 contribution paying members, on a population of 22 million inhabitants.
And what about yours?

International / Re: European Bicycling Resource
« on: April 09, 2012, 08:55:48 am »
One of the most useful bicycling resources is the address book of 'Vrienden op de Fiets' (Friends on the Bike,  It contains 4500 addresses of people in mainly the Netherlands, Belgium and the (very) western part of Germany) that accomodate cyclists during their trips in these countries.  Of course only recommended if you really like to get in touch with locals ;-)

General Discussion / Re: Bike Barge Holland
« on: April 09, 2012, 08:24:08 am »
Unless you are very unpractical and unadventurous, or not so healthy, or a little bit lazy, or just too rich, there's no need to book these kind of tours.  Why?
Bicycle Rental: Available in all cities and bigger villages.  Renting is cheaper if you do it in a smaller city and not in Amsterdam!
Tracks: It's not even necessary to buy lots of maps.  The Netherlands are crisscrossed with signposted tracks, connecting all places.

Accomodation: Go for the 4500 families of 'Vrienden op de Fiets' (= Friends on the Bike).  They allow other cycletouring members of the organization to stay in their home for a modest price.
Freedom: If you like a place, you can stay one more night for visiting some of their tourist attractions.  A main disadvantage with Bike Barging is that you always arrive in late afternoon/early evening and that you leave (very early) the next morning.
Local people, local food: On the boat, the same cook prepares all the dishes and you're always surrounded by other tourists.  If really interested in a country, going to local restaurants and staying with locals is far more recommendable.
Belgium: Everything I mentioned above, is also valid for Flanders (Belgium).

General Discussion / Towpaths in Belgium
« on: April 09, 2012, 08:04:11 am »
Nearly all rivers and canals in Belgium have one car free towpath.  Sometimes both sides are even exclusively for cyclists and pedestrians.  And if we add all the former railway tracks that over the last decades have been reconverted to greenways, we may say Belgium has a pretty dense and safe network for cycling and hiking.  'Fietslogies' listed most of them.

Map of Belgium:
List of tracks in Belgium:
The most popular one between Ghent and Bruges:


Accommodations and Camping:
3. Has anyone stayed with Vrienden op de Fiets?

What was your experience?  Do you recommend staying with any of them?

I used to stay with a few of these families in Belgium (Ghent, Namur, Beloeil, Pottes) and I can absolutely recommend this formula.  This year, they charge only 19 euro for one night (including breakfast) and most of them are always very helpful with providing information about the region, where to cycle, fair priced restaurants and more 'inside' information, that's not that easy to find.  Going for 'Vrienden op de Fiets' saves you also from a lot of weight (although their booklet with addresses is not that light), and from the problem of finding adequate camping places.  Nearly every Dutch village counts one or more hosts.

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