Day 7, 19:04 – Halle

halleMay 7: Brussels – Nivelles

I left Brussels at about 11 am because it took me 3 hours to take photos of the city.

I reached Halle, 25 km south of Brussels, at about 07 pm where in both hotels they keep telling me they are overbooked because of this seafood event in the capital. Initially I planned to stay on a park bench in Halle but after a warm diner in one of the restaurants I decided to continue towards Nivelles.

I reached a little village, about 5 km from Nivelles at 03:40 am the next morning where I put my matress under the roof of a bus station. I hated seafood conferences and dark forests.

Day 8, 01:48 – Ittre

ittreMay 8: Nivelles – Seneffe

Nivelles – Seneffe is probably only about 15 km one from the other but even so I thought I wouldn´t make it. I was more stumbling than walking, partially with hallucinations and sitting down to rest every 10 minutes or so. When I finally reached Seneffe at about lunchtime, I entered the first supermarket to feed myself and than called the first pension that appeared on google maps to reserve a room. The landlord was a little surprised that I talked so little but I just wanted to have my peace. I think I went to bed at about 15:00 and slept the whole night.

I had learned that the nightwalks are killing me and that I needed to have some quality rests. I remembered a documentary about the Iditerod husky race in Alasca, one of the toughest races in the World where a multi times champion commented that if you compare the race times of the slides, they all have more or less the same speed. However, at the end there are significant time gaps between the slides, so how is that possible. It is mainly because of the resting intervals, the slide that can keep the resting time to a minimum but efficient and with high quality is the one that is going to lead the race.

With me it was more or less the same, you can do a night walk or two and make 50 to 70 km on the short term but than the next day you are toast and do 10 km. So as a consequence of this I started focussing more on my resting times and even in Spain where you have a lot of albergues every 3rd day I preferred to pay a more expensive guest house or hotel where my sleep would be definitely better.

Day 9, 20:58 – Estinnes

estinnesMay 9: Seneffe – Vieux Reng

Accomodation in Belgium was really a nightmare. Even in Binche, a relatively large city which I reached about 5:30 pm, there was just one B+B which was full and the only Hotel shut down some time ago. So I decided to continue to the French border.

At about 09:00 pm, in the Belgim – French  borderland, close to a village called Estinnes, I suddenly heard drums in the distance which came from 3 young guys who were drumming in the middle of nowhere. Of course they were curious about me, didn´t speak a word other than French but new that Santiago was in Spain. Even though it took them some time to understand that I intended to walk there, I guess that didn´t make any sense to them (and who is going to blame them?)

It took me some time to take photos with each one and each camera of them but I was more than happy about it, at least I had some social contact. I continued to walk into the night until I reached the French border, in Vieux Reng, at 11:30 pm. I found a church at about midnight, where I put my sleeping back in the surrounding garden. As it was Friday night, there were still some younger guys hanging around and drinking, so I only fell asleep at about 02:30. I woke up at 05:00 because it started to rain.

Day 10, 10:47 – Maubeuge

maubeugeMay 10: Vieux Reng – Maubeuge

I was pretty tired from the night walk the day before, so I was happy to have reached Maubeuge, checked into the Ibis Budget hotel and decided to try to get some rest and to cut my hair in the afternoon.

Day 11, 16:03 – Leval

sambreMay 11: Maubeuge – Maroilles

This was one of my best days since I left Aachen. I felt good, it had more or less stopped raining, temperatures were pleasant, the light and colours were gorgous and the whole afternoon I walked on a grass trail along the river Sambre.

I stayed at night in Maroilles, my first  oppurtunity to test the bivouac. The owner, an old man didn´t charge anything from me, he said I could stay as long as I wish.

Day 13, 15:39 – Saint Quentin

saint-quentinMay 13: Bohain en Vermandois – Saint Quentin

There is not so much to see in Saint Quentin but I liked this monument at the city entrance roundabout. Maybe an indication that the people living there have a sense of humor.

Bohain – Saint Quentin was in principle not so distant but as I pushed the day before pretty hard to come as close as possible to St. Quentin, I probably was a little below the appropriate temperature and as the night was fucking cold with a pretty bad sleep it cost me more than expected to reach this important stage target on my way to Paris.

Day 14, 21:43 – Berlancourt

berlancourtMay 14: Saint Quentin – Berlancourt

Lovely! I saw the moon a little late because I was looking to the other side. What was particular was that it rose from the horizon. A friend of mine posted: “I can hear the wolves howling in the background” and I answered him “Yes, me too!”