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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Walking the Distance

We, Herman and I, reserved last June to go to Nieuport this week-end. And instead of Herman, working in Boston, I was lucky to get Annemie to come with me.

We joined in June “Les Compagnons del la Dyle Romane". It is the walking club of Wavre. Every three months they send me a bulletin with all the activities and we did not do anything at all. The only thing I did was to send a reservation in June for December hoping that by then we have our act together to go walking.

Well even without Herman it was a lot of fun. It rained all week and a hundred times I told myself what a stupid idea to go walking in the rain in December. Everyday I look at the weather report and you get a mixed feeling. It will be raining and cloudy, could get better but maybe not. Changing weather. Good luck.

The meeting was on Friday evening at the Hotel, Floreal Club, in Nieuport Bad. I arrived first; then Annemie after she finished with her last patient. She has less distance to drive. She already lives in Flanders where the coast is. From my house in Brabant Wallons it is about 140 km.

It is the kind of hotel where you make your own bed when you arrive. There is a kitchen and a nice bathroom. Normally it is for family holidays. People come for one or two weeks in the summer. Just remodeled, everything was new and very well made.

We had dinner with my new walking group. We did not know anybody. It is always awkward in the beginning. That is also the reason I did not want to go alone. My new group was about 40 people and there were two other Dutch speaking groups. This week-end is organised by the hotel. I was told that they started some years ago with a walking week-end to fill up the hotel in the winter. Now there is so much demand that they have to organise three walking week-ends every winter. Marketing tip for seaside hotel in the winter. So in total we must have been about 120 walkers.

The dinner was fine. The members of my new Club were very friendly and with small talk they put us at ease. After dinner during coffee a disk jockey gave a party mood to everybody. People danced till 1:00 am but Annemie and I went to bed early to be fresh the following morning.

Up at seven the next day. Big Nordic breakfast at eight. Everybody ready to walk by nine. The weather was stunning. Blue sky, no wind, a big sun rising from a low fog. With 2°C I was all covered with Sarah ski jacket, Micrografx hat, gloves, double pants and good walking shoes. The morning walk consisted of 10km. in the countryside with a return via the Nieuport beach. The walk was led by a guide in the front for the fast walkers and one in the back for the slow one. We were lucky.The group was quite homogeneous and we more or less arrived all together with an average of 5km per hour.
After a good warm lunch, at 2pm the group of 120 walker took two buses and went to France. Not too far, just across the border, we walked another two hours from Zuydcoote to Bray Dunes in the dunes by the sea in a natural reserve called “Dune Marchand” following for a while “la Grande Randonée du Littoral”. By the time we arrived by the sea it was sunset. Dramatic pink colors when the sea and the sky become one.

Happy and tired we took the buses back and got ready for a great dinner, with candle lights, starter, fish and to finish delicious hot crêpes with apples and worm chocolate. Again a big “Soirée Dansante” but Annemie and I were dead tired with every muscle sore went to bed by 11pm and slept like babies till the next day.

This morning, after again a big Nordic breakfast, we left the Belgian coast to go back home, happy of our walk by the sea.


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