Country # 12- Belgium was the 12th country that we visited during our 14 month career break.
Many people know Belgians as chocolate chomping, trappist swilling, waffle grilling food heroes. But residents of this western European nation really love to burn off the calories they ingest. Whether it’s through soccer, cycling, or kayaking, the travelers we met from Belgium try to stay in shape to counter their rich diets.
We met Belgian travel buddies Anouk and Hans during our fourth month in South America. At the time we were in Huanchaco, Peru staying near the beach at Oceano Hospedaje. We later reconnected in the Miraflores section of Lima for my birthday. Then in Cusco we shared a homestay while volunteering. We originally bonded over a ceviche lesson but eventually grew to be great friends. We made tentative plans to reunite with our new friends in their native Belgium.
Nine months later we arrived in Leuven, Belgium and Hans and Anouk met us by the train station. We figured they’d take great care of us but they went above and beyond anything we could imagine. They set us up with a private apartment in the center of this university town, took us on a road trip to Brugges, and dined with us over a monstrous bowl of mussels near the sea.
The adventurous highlight of our stay in Belgium occurred on a river in Wallonia. Joined by Hans’ sister Margot we had a day on the river. We rented kayaks from Kayaks Libert and got an upper body workout. We rowed for about five or six hours only taking short breaks for a picnic lunch and of course, Trappist beers at a riverside bar. Since it was the end of the summer, the river was packed with Belgians looking to glide through the forest one final time.