Ow my muscles. I underestimated the impact of using a different bike, it seems. It’s a great bike: smooth, silent, sturdy, but the configuration takes a bit of getting used to. I’m much more inclined forward, supporting part of my weight on my arms and though this allows you to put greater strength through your legs, it also requires some muscles to keep a correct – as my physiotherapist would want it – posture. So this morning: ow.
Nevermind, we don’t have to jump back on the bikes, plan B is to do a walk in the neighbourhood. We look for the biggest bunch of trees around and they even have their own website with a few recommended walking tours. After a truly sumptuous breakfast, taking the waiter up on his offer of using whatever we cannot finish and making ourselves a lunch bag – bag, microfilm/foil offered by the hotel – we set off around nine. The bikes spent the night on the car, they’re secured with a lock so it’s actually the safest place for them and even though we won’t bike at all today, we just leave them on. We park at the main entrance to Bosland, which profiles itself as the largest patch of adventure forest in the country. I’m not sure what they mean and I think we must have bigger stretches in the Ardennes region, but according to their website there should be some nice hiking to be done, so we set of on the red trail. I forgot my camera in the hotel room, that’s a bummer because I can’t take high-res, true colour pictures, but I look on the bright side and decide to enjoy the hike without heavy bag. If we see deer now, I won’t miss them because I’m fiddling with the hardware!
We follow narrow forest trails carpeted with evergreen needles. It’s really quiet for a while: no bird song, no other hikers.. then we hear the sound of gun fire far away. Must be from the military training grounds nearby, it sounds like they’re very busy. Anyway, aside from that, it’s pretty quiet: I comment on the difference with our home town, where you often have noise of planes during their loud take-off or landing phase, but a bit later there’s a huge noise, obviously several planes taking off one after the other. Can’t see them because of the low clouds, but sounds like large jet aircraft, probably from the military airfield close by.. I wonder if you get used to it if you live here, it’s honestly loud enough to drown out somebody speaking close by, unless they’re shouting.
We see exactly three people walking during the whole hike: one other couple and a trail runner. It’s warm enough to walk in a t-shirt and mostly dry, even when it does rain the trees keep the worst of it away. I whip out my phone a few times to identify bird noises, quite interesting if you can’t see them through the leaves. We spot a pair of big birds posturing in a tree and the app helps us to identify them as woodpeckers. I’m supposing that one male encroached on the territory of another and is now being told off by means of expressive neck movements, beak pointing and loud exclamations. It seems to work: after a few minutes they each dive down from their podium tree and disappear in different directions.
Still tired.. we plod on, consulting the tracking app now and then to check how far there is left to go. We determine we’ll go to the movies this afternoon and pick out the what/where/how on a smartphone. At the 11 km mark we reach the car and have our breakfast-left-over-lunch on a bench near an empty playground. The size of the parking lot suggests that it must get quite busy here sometimes, but as it’s rainy and the first school week and a week day, it feels like we have the whole forest to ourselves.
We drive a big half hour to the nearest cinema complex, just in time to get a snack and drink before giving our tired muscles a well deserved rest. We see Tenet, just out with raving reviews. Thankfully, though our muscles are tired, our minds are still fresh and we manage to follow the complicated, time-travelling story line with only a little difficulty. Back to the hotel, shower, dinner – I’ve been looking forward to this sabayon since yesterday evening – and writing. Unfortunately, I forgot my little box full of camera thingamabobs and cannot load the pictures of my reflex camera onto the laptop.. The smartphone is okay for fish-eye pictures, but it always tries to compensate for lighting etc., giving the pictures an artificial feel..