Tag Archives: Belgium

Back to the future

‘Ein Volkswagen, mit dem Sie überall zu Hause sind’ – official VW Helsinki T2 sales brochure 1972

A dream for a long, long time. I always wanted to tour in one of these little oldtimer camper vans. A few months ago I heard of a small company in the South of the Netherlands ‘Classic Camper Rental (Classic Camper Verhuur)’ where they rent them out. Hell, I did not need much time to decide to go for a weekend with such a beauty!

My first kilometers are quite exciting and hilarious. Our camper is called Allida and is ‘born’ in 1978. It is a Volkswagen T2 Helsinki, still mostly in its traditional setup. Ok, a few modern safety items have been build in, but still. The typical VW sound is there, the gigantic steer gives me muscle ache and the gear lever is just a bit too far away. I need a full strech to go to 3rd and 4th gear. We can only drive 70-80, or at least that is how far I dare to go. It all feels a bit less secure in a way. Oh, and I do not want to destroy any part of this beauty.

We decide to go South, to Belgium. The only rule this weekend, we really want to avoid the highways. Well, we soon get lost, but in a nice way. Slowly driving, following signs until we reach the Hautes Fagnes in East Belgium (High Fens). A beautiful natural area with heather, large grassy spaces and beautiful forrest. We enjoy cruising this area and soon reach the reservoir of Robertville where we srumble upon the nice campsite Anderegg to park Allida for the night.A special moment, as we brought some 70s clothing to make the experience real. How surprised our fellow campers are seeing us in disco outfit!

The next morning, after a challenging night on a very hard bed and with a loud ticking clock in the background, we decide to go for a great cup of coffe in Malmédy. On the way we enjoy the views of the reservoir and hike the short hike to Reinhart’s Castle. Malmédy is a very lovely historic town, with a beautiful cathedral, colourful baskets with flowers everywhere and great cakes to go with the superb coffee. After a pause we proceed. Yes, Allida needs rest every 2 hours. Just to prevent overheating the engine, which is just air cooled. We drive to Germany. Just because we can. We visit the small, very touristic town of Monschau. Even though we manage to take down the average age by many years, it is a beautiful historic place, definitely worthwile the visit. The typical German half-timbeed houses with slate roofs create a fairytale atmosphere. We have an excellent late lunch and walk around the town. At the end of the day we decide to stay on a campsite in Hammer. Strange place, but our spot is next to the little river, so very magical. Enjoying a nice wine and some tapas we finish the day.

The last day we pass the small town of Eupen, where we have a nice coffee again. We go back North, back to the Netherlands. I really love the beautiful landscape of our province Limburg and enjoy driving ‘my’ camper around. We have the necessary break in Gulpen. Allida can rest, we hike for an hour and have a great beer stew for lunch. The end of a great weekend in a fantastic little camper van. It is old, it feels old, but I love it. With pain in my heart and arms from steering I part. Maybe ’til next time? Tschüß.


Roparun 2016


“To ad life to the days, where days cannot be added to life anymore.”

Roparun – an event with a good cause. While running non-stop in relay from Paris (or Hamburg) to Rotterdam (524 kilometer) in the Pentecost weekend, money is collected for people with cancer. Since 3 years I am member and coordinator of one of the 400 teams joining in this challenge.

Our team, Teamall4Friends, consists of 25 people: 8 Runners, 6 cyclists, 2 navigators, 5 drivers, 2 catering ladies, a masseur and a team captain. The run is a relay race with 2 sub-teams of 4 runners, each covering about 30 to 50 km per stage. In the end, each runner has covered roughly 65 km. The whole run takes about 43 hours. Throughout the year sponsors are contacted and events are organised to collect money for the foundation and for the run itself. After a whole year of planning, collecting funds and arranging the necessities for our run, Pentecost has come and we finally go to Paris.

Roparun – 14 – 16 May
It feels good to see everybody again. The people in my team I know, but not on a very personal level. Yes, we spend 3 days together in rather tough circumstances. Non-stop, day and night we are on the road. We do everything together without much sleep, we eat little and are sometimes packed for hours in a small bus. It gives some feeling of intimacy. We talk, laugh, sing, complain, suffer, give compliments… we agree to be honest to each other. How will it be this year?
The weather is reasonable. Pentecost is early so it is cold, very cold. Especially in the night shifts. But it is mostly dry. The exciting feeling at the start is all we need for the first stage. The average speed is high, 12,5 km/hr. The guys love to run. We sub-devided the stages in small bits.1km running, 3 km rest, 1 run, 3 rest, and on and on and on. Until the stage is over and our next team is taking over.
I am a navigator. I keep us on track, inform the sub-team of challenges to be overcome during the stage and am the trouble shooter. If something happens, I find the solution, I fix the navigation, put batteries in the GPSes, feed the cyclists and keep the driver alert. I am the contact person for the base camp and our other team. A role I really like, because no stage is the same. I can look outside, make pictures and post them on our live site and on twitter and facebook. Just to keep the home front informed.

This year I will also run in one of the stages. Something I really like to experience myself. What do they feel, how do they experience the route, the supporters, the other teams on the road. It is only a bit more than 10 km, but I love it. Running in the beautiful countryside of northern France, crossing the border to Belgium, hearing the cheers and getting tired. I want more. There was not more this year. Maybe next year?

The days are intense. First night no real sleep. Just a power nap of maybe 15 minutes. Second day I still feel ok. Get a bit of sleep on a small camp bed on a parking somewhere in Belgium. Funny idea and part of the adventure. Just get into your sleepingbag somewhere and try to get some sleep in the open air. Lovely. Along the route are many villages giving us a warm welcome. People are awake day and night and party as long as the teams pass by. Next night again just a power nap. Fatigue is entering our bodies and minds. Small annoyances come up, but nothing too serious. Every year I am surprised how most people can manage, even though they must feel dead tired. Somewhere I seem to enjoy it so much, that it overcomes the negative feelings. We are on a mission!

In the morning of the third day we arrive on a large parking. We share it with all the other teams. Busy, tired faces, sore legs, but still eager to go for the last 60 kms. There are showers in the public swimming pool. Yes, time to take care of myself a bit. It is lovely and will keep me going until the evening. In the mean time the ladies from the catering are making pancakes and grilled toast with cheese.

After 43 hours in the race, and 55 hours of being ‘awake’ we finish in Rotterdam. We finish almost 2 hours ahead of planning, with an average speed of 12,1 km/hr. We are 26th of 252 finishing teams. We feel good! We meet our family and friends at the finish line and after the official ceremony and group picture we feel tired but so satisfied. We did it again!

Now, after a few nights of sleep I feel proud. I am part of a great team. Even though I meet some people only for these 3 days, I can still say sincerely that I love  them!