De 4 Vaargetijden - Barge cruise in Belgium... are you going to let yourself be taken in the boat?
14 May 2020

Barge cruise in Belgium… are you going to let yourself be taken in the boat?

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Is a boating vacation in Belgium a good travel tip for you?

VaarVakantie Oude Leie
Spring on the Old Lys

It’s spring. Everywhere you can smell the flowers, hear the croaking of the frogs and see the ducklings frolicking in the water…

In the grass there are seductive scents of bitches, who are looking for a nice friend to play together in the grass. Or don’t you smell that, with your human nose? Sorry, I keep forgetting!

What would you like to discover or experience this summer? Or is a stay at home summer, a staycation, what you prefer to do now? Not me anyway! I would like to sail my houseboat again and smell different scents every day. Who knows, I might get to know new dogs with their folks.

Or would you like to get away from home, if you are alowed to pass the border? But surely you don’t want to go to a busy hotel or an overcrowded campsite? It will be difficult to keep enough distance there, I think. And a mouth mask over your snout will be a bit warm to hold on the whole time. Luckily, dogs don’t have to.

I also have a good travel tip for you: choose a barge cruise!

Noty zwemt met zwemvest
Buoyancy or lifebelt?

How safe is a boat tour through Belgium?

My ship’s dog-nose smells that summer’s getting closer and closer. And strangely enough, my houseboat is still on the winter berth in Oudenaarde. Still I notice some unrest, both with my owners and with the people in the street. The corona measures are being relaxed step by step. My owners are busy with spray cans and mouth masks, making more space between the tables. Even the chairs get 4 different colours! So they make my boathouse ready to receive guests and go for a cruise together.

It’s always been safe, I thought. After all, they’ve been sailing for over 20 years. Two other ship-beardies have preceded me… No, now they make sure there’s plenty of room for the guests to stay far enough away from each other. You know, my houseboat is 30m long and 5m wide. There are also two floors. Calculate for yourself how many m² there is for a maximum of 8 guests plus my 2 owners plus myself!

Badkamer #4
Only for people…
Kajuit 3
cabin #3

All guests already have their private bathroom with sanitation in their own cabin. So they certainly do not have to share this with others. My owners have their toilet in the deckhouse (= skipper’s house). Already guessed it for sure? I’m the only one who has to go ashore to lift my leg!

Oh yeah, there are life-jackets for everyone on board. They’re in your cabin. Leave them there, they’ve never been used! I only use my dog lifejacket in the summer: to swim very far.

What can you do during such a canal barge cruise?

Belgium as a vacation country seems boring and cold and wet to you? Do you think there is nothing to experience or discover? Or do you get bored on such a slow boat journey?

In my 6 years of life, I haven’t been bored for a minute! There are a lot of places I haven’t explored yet. In the summer I often go swimming, to cool off a bit. But of course I am a dog!

And the people? I saw them put their bikes on board at the beginning of the journey. “To be more active and not get bored,” they said. Strangely enough that bike stayed on deck the whole trip, without riding a meter. At the end of the journey, the bike was loaded back onto the car…

Fahrrad an Bord
ships bike

There are also guests who do go for a ride! Sometimes they prepare a packed lunch in the morning and leave for the next mooring. Sometimes they stay on board until after lunch and then cycle to the end point. I guess they don’t want to miss that tasty lunch buffet… My owner Olga always makes something extra to go with the bread and pastries. Actually, most guests just cruise along to the end point. In the afternoon there is still a lot of time to go to the sights ashore, on foot or by bike.

There are also guests who bring a very thick book. Now they must have a lot of time to read, right? Once they’ve finished, they can borrow another book from the ship’s library. Oddly enough, they don’t usually read that one book. After every turn there’s something new to see. Or we cross the lock. Or the water birds attract attention with their splashing. And yes, actually our guests are chatting a lot too! And that book? They read a few more pages before bedtime…

What can you reach in Belgium by boat?

Wherever there is navigable water, you can travel by boat! And there are at least 1100km of canals and rivers in Belgium. That’s way too much for one day! Our guests like to have breakfast first. We usually leave after that, around 10 am. There is a lot to see along the way. However, the guests prefer to go ashore in the afternoon to explore the new town. The guests have already studied the brochures and maps before we moor. My owner Olga is also happy to help them make their choice out of all the sightseeing attractions. I like visiting the woods and dog zones.

And so we travel about 60km every day. Many routes depart from Oudenaarde (Flemish Ardennes). There are also tours that depart from Maasmechelen (Limburg). And yes there is also a very nice voyage between Oudenaarde and Maasmechelen, along the beautiful cities of Wallonia.

Scheepslift Thieu
Ship lift Thieu
Ganzevoet Nieuwpoort
Brugge gentpoort
Hellend vlak Ronquières
Inclined plane Ronquières
VaarVakantie Oude Leie
Springtime river Old Lys

What are Belgium’s major tourist assets?

  • The coast: the waves of the sea, the large sand beach, the dike for strolling, walking in the dunes…
  • The Ardennes: with the mountains and rocks, the castles, the picturesque villages and cultural cities, the forests and streams …
  • Limburg: the green province, cycling paradise, Kempen villages, nature reserves, mining past …

Can we cruise down there and avoid the crowd?

Yes, indeed! There’s so much to talk about. Once I start, it won’t end soon… You know, this blog’s been so long. Shall I tell you more about the tours next week? Which one do you want to hear first: the coast, the Ardennes or Limburg?

Until next time!

Noty's pootje

PS Are you a little curious now? Don’t you like waiting till next week? Then just have a look at the routes here… there’s a lot of them, huh?