Day 5, 22nd May 2011, Elsloo to Spa

We were pondering our arrival in Elsloo last night.  We had to stop and ask about where we might find a hotel in the neighbouring village of Meer.  Four locals joined in the conversation and decided there were none, but on reflection said it was possible there was one in Elsloo, but they were unsure because the village was all of 4km away.  When we got to Elsloo, I asked at a restaurant where the hotel might be.  The host asked want sort of hotel I wanted, as there were apparently several, and he asked how much I wanted to pay.  Normally I refuse to volunteer a figure, but I got caught out and suggested 80E.  He then gave me directions.  What a surprise when the hotel price was exactly 80E.

We had a late start this morning because our very pleasant and voluble host wanted to talk about his son who is working as a chef in Australia.  We have heard similar stories a number of times over the last few days.

We rode into Maastricht on the same LF pathways we had been using and had desultory look for more maps, as our bike route maps ran out just a few km south at the Belgian border.  Eventually, we decided to ride on using TomTom on the Iphone, and a large-scale map for general directions.  This worked really very well, as the bicycle route chosen by TomTom, while hardly inspired tourist-wise avoided the traffic.


There is a very sudden change at the Belgian border. There is no more bike infrastructure, no special lanes, signals, route markers and no bikes, that is, absolutely no bikes.

The Belgian border marks the northern extent of the Ardenne region, so the terrain changes from very flat to quite hilly, and of course this is the reason why the bikes disappear.

We decided to head south to at least the spa town of Spa, before turning east and then on north to Brussels.

The hilly terrain was a bit of hard work after the flat terrain of Holland, but not too bad.

We rode to the town of Dison, just north of Verviers.  Dison is my candidate for the ugliest town in western Europe, followed quite closely by Verviers.  We may have made a mistake here.  Common sense would have suggested finding a hotel in Verviers.  It was 4.30pm. But Verviers is such a shithole that we decided to ride on towards Spa and see what we could find.  Belgium appears quite shabby after the polished perfection of Holland.  This was quite a solid ride up and down the ridges of the Ardenne. The only hotels were full, so finally we pulled into Spa to find that the only obvious B&Bs were also full, hardly surprising as it was now 6.30pm.  88km for the day.  So we settled for a very comfortable 115E room. It doesn’t matter, we knew full well that we would pay more if we had to stop in a resort town.

We had an excellent dinner with particularly good service in a local restaurant.  At the end of the meal the chef asked if we were Flemish, and on finding we are Australian, apologised profusely for not talking to us.  It is a bit sad that a French Belgian can talk to us, but not to his fellow countrymen.

You may need to scroll the map to see the route.  Afte the flat terrain of Holland, the elevation profile may be interesting.  Instructions are on the main page of this diary.

View 22 5 2011 Elsloo to Spa in a larger map

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