I spent a week in the town of Aarschot. If you’re wondering where that is, it’s very close to Leuven (a university town), around 50 from Brussels. It’s a city and municipality in the province of Flemish Brabant, in Flanders, one of the three regions of Belgium.
My home for a week was a caravan in the home of a farming couple and their two children. My caravan mate was a lovely girl from England and I was glad I had some company. I hadn’t really lived in a caravan before and this was a different experience for me. (But I’m saving that story for later).
Aarschot turned out to be a much larger town than I initially thought so. I had an impression that it will be a smallish town the size of my locality in Bangalore. But it turned out that I was wrong. The town is actually quite large and has a nice big square with different restaurants around it. On weekends, there is some activity as people come out to enjoy the sun and some of the famous Belgian beer.
But otherwise, it’s pretty quiet as I discovered while setting out for a walk with my caravan mate, Lou. We decided to explore the natural “reserve” area, a few kilometres down from where we were staying. From there, we’d venture into town and maybe grab a glass of wine.
I like seeing places on foot. Or bicycle. You can stop and stare. Do unplanned things. And generally get a feel of the place. Something you wouldn’t get if you were whizzing past in a car. Or a bus.
|Quiet picturesque roads, where we encountered a few cyclists and a nice trail leading to a green forested area|
The natural reserve (I am really not sure it was one, but calling it that for reference) turned out to be a rather pretty area. We walked on the edge of it, I think. Met some cyclists on the way, but we were the only walkers.
We went in for a bit and then decided to turn around towards the main city centre in search of food. Lou was a bit suspicious of my direction skills, but I had the map with me. A distinct advantage.
|The town is quiet, with flower lined roads, signs and routes for cyclists and a large square where most of the restaurants are located|
We walked through the pretty streets of Aarschot and got a bit lost. Some of the streets didn’t have any names. Or they had hidden them well enough. So there were periods of time, when we stood at a crossing and didn’t really know where we were. This is where cathedrals play an important role as a GPS. Using the tall tower, you can make your way towards it. So, as soon as I espied the tower, I knew we could head in that general direction. We did, and landed up at the town square.
The sun dappled square was quite busy since it was a holiday and people were enjoying their beers and drinks in the warm afternoon sun. We basked in the sun ourselves for a bit; had a glass of well deserved wine.
And then set off in search of Asian food. Well, I was dreaming of noodles (I have these cravings sometimes) while Lou said she’d be happy with fries. We didn’t land up getting either. Roamed around a bit looking for an Asian place. Every town, city and village has to have an Asian place. Surely.
City roads of Aarschot
Do we want Indian? Not me!
We weren’t about to give up though Lou was getting quite swayed by the thought of “frites”. But that particular day, there were no frites in Belgium. Well, at least not in Aarschot. In our vicinity anyway. We walked around to the station area and finally sighted a Chinese restaurant. By then we were tired and hungry.
Dreaming of noodles, I ordered my “nasi goreng” (not a Chinese dish I know, and I had no idea why it was there) from the menu. Around 15 minutes later two plates of rice arrived on the table. That’s when I realised my mistake. Obviously, even my recent trip to Malaysia hadn’t helped differentiate between “mee” and “nasi”. Ah, well. Nobody’s perfect.
So, of course, my noodle dreams had to be shelved for another day. We enjoyed our food, never the less. And then walked back to our life. And the caravan.