Trip dist: 143 kms. Trip time: 9 hrs, 30 min. Tot dist: 3,825 kms.
Ho, folks. Check it out. This is THE perfect bike road: flat, no curves, wind in favor allows you to bike at 30 kms/hr, nice flower-filled countryside, no cars, and approaching a pretty village. What more could a girl want?
Crossing the border into Belgium was....indeterminate (I decided to skip Luxembourg and Trier to save a day--I'm already seriously behind schedule for Istanbul and Trier can easily be reached by train for a day trip from Köln). The map says that Belgium starts right at the end of the town Guè de Hossus, but there were no signs alerting me to the fact I had changed countries. The confirmation came in a rather curious manner. As I was posing for the traditional border-crossing pictures (these are at the real border, the picture you see above this post, on the other hand, was taken already 1 km inside of Belgium), I got an SMS message from the mobile phone carrier, alerting me that coverage was switching from SFR (the French service provider), to PROXIMUS (the Belgian service provider), and informing me what the roaming charges were.
Scary, how technology pursues us, and oftentimes knows more about us than we....
The two videos of the old downtown square that you see in today's movie folder that look so similar are not a case of dèjá vu, Rocroi (in France) and Phillippeville (in Belgium) are simply two fortified cities, so they are both laid down as impeccable pentagons with bastions, and the city plans of one and the other are practically interchangeable!
Anyway, from the very little I have seen of Belgium so far it would appear that the people here are rather well off economically (I cannot say the same thing overall for France, especially in the small towns and villages--even the ones that get lost of tourists and with them, one would expect, a significant influx of money): here in Phillippeville (pop. about 7,000) for instance all residential buildings are 2 or 3-story houses, all red brick and all of them very elegantly furnished in wood and leather (yup, could see through the windows ;) ), the cars are all less than a couple of years old, big, and very clean and well maintained, etc. And this is just in a tiny little middle-of-nowhere town!
Not much else to say for today, except that I'm rather looking forward to Aachen, a town that right at the border straddles 3 different countries. Should be exciting.