Walking in Pajottenland

Where to go walking when in Belgium? There are a large number of walking clubs and there is a website (walkinginbelgium.be) that lists all the events in each area from each club throughout the year. Generally at the weekend or on holidays there are a number of walks not too far away from any part of the country. You can simply turn up and pay a few euros (unless you are a club member) to take part, choose the distance and off you go. The routes and distances are well sign posted and there are usually a couple of places to stop for refreshments (sandwiches, beers etc)

and getting your card stamped (Controls).

While in Brussels, we joined the Pajottenland Hekelgem – an 18km walk round the area of Affligem on a sunshine and shower day –  with rolling countryside, woods and wheat fields –  a short drive away from the capital. Lovely!

Sunshine days

Its the May bank holiday weekend so its a trip to the North East and Newcastle with its grand classical buildings – from Central Station to Grey Street and from Pilgrim Street to the Tyne – and its location not far from the Northumbrian coast and countryside.

fullsizeoutput_15ccA City whose wealth grew from the black gold of the coal trade and with the trades which grew around this –  a wander round the centre and the streets leading down to the Quayside where there is still evidence of the mining past

 

 

 

 

Buttercup field Hexham
Hexham

Fantastic weather and we took the train to Hexham with its beautiful Abbey and the rolling hills of  the surrounding countryside with hedgerows in bloom and buttercup fields.

Pegswood Viaduct
Viaduct on the Wansbeck

We took the train to Morpeth, north of Newcastle, and followed a walking trail to Bothal and back to Morpeth along the Wansbeck –  a walk that took us through over 2km of pretty riverside woods in the deep river valley.

Greuzi Ferdinand

In May the snow is melting in Switzerland and we should be heading off to those Alpine meadows – we had that on Saturday morning with a wander down to Zug Altstadt with a view towards the Rigi mountain and the Zugersee – but that early summer sun came to nothing and it was a day for the cinema.

Not to be outdone by the rain and low clouds we went for a walk in through the damp and misty woods by Gottschalkenberg above Oberägeri – the woodmen had been busy arranging the newly chopped tree trunks in geometrical piles. Meeting the few other walkers along the way it is the custom to greet each other in Swiss German “Gruezi mitenand” / or do they think I’m Ferdinand….?

With views to Zurich See and the Au Peninsula below – let’s do this on a fine day

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A pew with a view

And more geometry to be seen in a walk around Baar in the Swiss houses

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Grienbachstrasse, Baar

Town and country

A weekend of being a tourist in London with a guided tour to the Palace of Westminster and the Theatre – ‘The Goat, or who is Sylvia?’ with Damien Lewis and Sophie Okonedo

And a sunny spring walk in the Kentish High Weald passing Batemans in Burwash (The country home of Rudyard Kipling)

Summer in the city

And we returned for a few days to an unusually hot Buenos Aires before leaving for home.

While the UK and Europe were in the middle of Storm Doris, Buenos Aires was experiencing extreme weather –  hot and humid with torrential rain in the late afternoon. The rain caused streams to form in the streets with every news channel report on the TV reported on these torrents in Buenos Aires and the struggling  traffic – in  Avenido 9 de Julio in the centre lagoons had formed and the cars and mopeds floundered around. We got drenched when we made a 5 minute dash round the corner to our bright and spacious Airbnb apartment in leafy Belgrano.

We had visited the immigration museum in Puerto Madero and on our way back across the small park area in front of Retiro Station, Arne felt something on his back and two girls came up to us and said that we had birdshit on our backs and started daubing us with water and tissues. Well we realised that it was distraction and we hung onto our bags and kept turning around while the girls tried to ‘help’ us to clean the ‘birdshit’ on our tee shirts. Extraordinary birds that got both of us on our backs (and my ‘hit’ was even in the shape of a zorro sign!) and not our heads. We then both spotted a guy not far away and at that point the girls disappeared. My t shirt was ruined as it was some kind of dark liquid which I couldn’t get off. I later googled ‘birdshit scam Buenos Aires’ and it is a regular type of scam around BA and in front of Retiro Station – they usually try this distraction try to get the day packs that people are carrying. I keep a small amount of cash in my bag and my cards are kept in my old running belt which is unobtrusive and well under my clothes.

 

 

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Puerto Madero

This week it was extraordinarily hot in Buenos Aires – 37 degrees and humid. We had a couple of  sticky journeys on the Subte and hot treks across the city so since there were a few cinemas in Belgrano so decided to retreat to the comfort of  the air-conditioned cinema on a couple of afternoons –  Friday is the cheap day in the multiplex in Belgrano ARS60 (£3) – and the films are sub-titled and not dubbed into Spanish. Mind you, the first part of ‘Lion’ when its set in India is in Hindi and Bengali………..

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Congress

Colonia del Sacremento

Colonia del Sacremento is in South West Uruguay – and we had planned that we could travel from Tilcara to Colonia in one day. It was a bit of a tight schedule as our flight from Salta to Buenos Aires was changed to leave a couple of hours later than when we originally booked.

Driving back to Salta from Tilcara we took the faster roads from Jujuy and so avoiding any jungle roads. In principal we had more time on our hands but perhaps we lost that when we arrived  in Salta from a different direction……

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Coffee Break

 

The flight was delayed slightly – weather conditions (which made the flight marvellously bumpy!) – so when we got to Buenos Aires we caught the Colonia Express . There were a few choices of quite fast ferries across the River Plata to Colonia so we picked one based on our arrival time in Buenos Aires. All were about a 30 minute taxi drive away. It was a bit chaotic buying the ticket but we caught a ferry and got to Colonia in the early evening.

The old town is a world heritage site and we stayed in a delightful airbnb right in the historic centre with cobbled streets, pretty old buildings and old cars

Salinas Grandes de Jujuy

About 80 km from Tilcara are the Salinas Grandes of Jujuy – salt plains. It takes about an hour of climbing from Purmamarca  – over a paved road which snakes gently upwards with panoramic views looking back towards the Rio Grande. The road leads on to Chile.

The salt flats are bright white and can be seen as you cross over the pass. We noticed that a lot of the salt seems to have disappeared in the last 9 years and the size was not as expansive as we remembered. There were also a number of lorries lifting the salt – none now. It is thought that this can be due to climate change and the mining that has been going on.

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We returned to Purmamarca and stopped to photo the winding road’s descent to the valley. When we carried on and reached the bus in the photo, we were flagged down by a bus company employee and gave him a lift to Purmamarca so that he could reach his bus company so that he could get assistance for the broken down bus! It was a long distance bus on its way from Corrientes to Chile and was now stuck without Airco or a phone signal…..

img_0953Purmamarca is another pretty little town in the Province of Jujuy with a colourful market in the main square and surrounded by more colourful mountains.

Out last day in the Northwest of Argentina!