Day 1 – 4 april 2016 – From Gent to De Panne
By: Nikol Salen (English arrangement: Dirk Devreese)
Ready to go:
Fully packed, we leave Gent with a light but wetting rainfall.
Already after about 15 km, in the village of Drongen we had to make a turn around: road works.
As you might already have experienced yourselves, the only thing a man can do in this situation is following the arrows. We end up in Bachte-Maria-Leerne. Not so bad, as the pre-ride-research learned us there is a cosy “brasserie ‘t Lusthof”. Time for a coffee. Sounds promising, but the place is closed on a Monday morning.
Although present, other coffee shops seem to be member of the same union as ‘t Lusthof: closed. Not a good start. Just hope this ride will not follow the saying: “from the frying pan into the fire”.
We find relief in the city of Deinze. Café ‘Gentlemen’ serves a good coffee. Funny, all those English hats on the wall…but beside the hats, there is not much “gentlemen” to experience. We look to the other side of the window. Rainfall did stop! What has been predicted becomes a reality: dry as from 11:00 h. It can’t go wrong anymore now!
We stand before the church of Ardooie. Searching for the “star of fame” dedicated to Mathias Sercu, Belgian actor and Royal Enfield rider. Hoho, not that shiny anymore! With a big portion of goodwill and a magnifying glass, one can still discover two letters of his name. Never mind Mathias, even without this star you will shine!
A sandwich bar provides all what’s needed to still our hunger under Ardooie’s church-tower
In the afternoon, the sun comes brightening our day. The route becomes more and more beautiful.
We ride along Houthulst and have a stop in Merkem at a Royal Enfield dealer, organizer of events like Triple-M. A bit further we arrive at Driegrachten.
Plenty of choice…but what direction to follow?
We just follow the water, simple. There is no need to make it more difficult is there?
Good choice it seems. We can follow the water till Veurne.
Adorable it is, the landscape. And quiet, the environment!
Veurne will be the last stop for today. We visit the museum dedicated to the first World War. The folder promises: “Visit the experience-center ‘Free homeland, life behind the front line. Discover the stories about education, nursery, judgement,…during the first World War.”
We gaze on pictures of people running away from the war. It is impossible not to think about all the refugees from war-area, trying to find a life. Not that far from here, just across the border with France, today some of them are . . . in pure misery.
The end of the exhibition allows the visitor to give a comment. Nikol leaves a message on refugees: we during the World War and them . . . now.
OUT! We leave the images of horrible misery behind us. Back into our holiday!
Up to De Panne! We booked a night in advance as we were sure to sleep here. The start of our tour along the Belgian borders: “The Rim of Belgium”
After a delight shower, we go for a walk on the promenade. We have an aperitif with view on the sea, to round the day. We are ready to start our ride tomorrow.