Day 27 – (September 17th)
Well-rested and well-fed from the day before at the beautiful farmhouse B&B in rural France, I was ready to take on the 75 mile ride into Brussels. Without cellular data, however, I could not stray from the path in front of me that I had loaded while on the Wi-Fi network.
Luckily for me, I had learned my lesson of using the cycling route on Google Maps in France and just followed the main roads one would take if driving a car. Considering I was in the middle of nowhere in rural France, I knew the traffic would be light and these ‘highways’ would be the best roads I could find.
After a quiet and uneventful 15-mile ride through an impoverished region in northern France, I crossed over into Belgium and the socioeconomic transformation was instant and impressive. On the French side sat abandoned farmhouses and rotting tractors while the Belgium side boasted booming agribusiness and beautiful stone houses that were a perfect combination of traditional architecture with modern style.
The roads also instantly improved and I was greeted with a sheltered bike lane! I had not had a dedicated bike lane in France since I left Paris. Can you tell I was happy to leave France?
The halfway point of the trip brought me to Mons, Belgium, where I stopped to have lunch and get a Belgian SIM card so I could use data while in this wonderful country. After a few more photos in the beautiful city center, I hopped back on the bike to crush another 35 miles onto Brussels.
I absolutely loved cycling through Belgium! The ride from Mons to Brussels along a covered bike lane was such a welcome luxury after slogging through France. Before I knew it, I was in Brussels with a few hours to spare before nightfall.
What a magnificent city! The capital of both Belgium and the European Union perfectly combines its medieval heritage with all the benefits of a modern metropolis. You can get distracted walking down its cobblestone streets and admiring its palatial stone architecture, and completely forget you are in one of the most influential cities in Europe! Pictures do not capture the wealth and beauty of this city:
After some sightseeing, I posted up at the Delirium Café to let some of my inner frat boy out by tasting as much Belgian beer as I could knowing I had to ride the next day. Content after a number of pints, I sauntered back to my hotel to get ready for more touristy activities the next day.