What a spectacuar day. Perhaps the nicest day of cycling I've ever done. We left Antwerp this morning at 9:45 to the sound of church bells calling citizens to 10 o'clock mass. Didn't see too many people rushing to church though. In fact, the streets were pretty quiet. Lots of police presence and barricades everywhere in preparation for the triathlon. It took us a good hour to get out of the city, but once we did, we were cycling through lovely green suburbs, magnificent estates, and parks. Sunny but slightly cool weather made for perfect riding conditions. We saw rhododendrons everywhere, in at least four different colours. Lots of cyclists on the paths too, it being Sunday.
We stopped for lunch outside the train station in a little town called Heide. There's a very cool war memorial there, with two soldiers facing each other across a huge slab of granite. One is presumably German, the other is Canadian ("Canada" can be clearly seen on his epaulette). Though I'm a pacifist, I was quite moved. It really brought home the fact that we were cycling through what were horrific battte grounds 75 years ago.
After lunch, we continued north through beautiful parkland toward the Dutch border. Just before crossing over, we stopped for a treat at a little subburb of Essens called Hoek. The café there served beer that owner brewed herself. How could I say no? It turned out to be a "light" Belgian amber (only 7.5%) that I very much enjoyed, called Lampetier. If we were spending more time in this area, I'd definitely seek out their other offerings. Ratebeer doesn't seem to like it, but there's nothing like drinking a beer in its natural habitat.
Tonight's B&B is on a farm just north of the Belgian border, near the town of Wouwse-Plantage. Tomorrow, we plan to get an early start toward Dordrecht to try and beat the light rain forecast to start in the afternoon.