zondag 1 juni 2008

This is such a surprising country!!!???

Well, I have to be honest in this case. Many times before I have told other people around the world that Belgium is rather a dull place to spend a holiday. I couldn't imagine it worthwhile to spend a fortune of your anually fee to travel to our rather tiny rainy place I call home. Perhaps I have a love and hate relationship with it and so do many other countrymen. When I was travelling around and met up with other tourists they would ask what was interesting to visit. Brussels got the five stars and all the rest just got the average score. So it seemed that advertising my own country wasn't something that I was good at. I tried to make up for the rather short list of worthwhile places to visit by telling that you are going to gain some extra weight because of the many good restaurants, the delicious chocolate and the numerous inviting looking bakeries and then I have not mentioned the many places where you can enjoy a chips (I refuse to call them French fries!!!) with real mayonaise.
But this week I realized that I have to change my mind. I have been spending a week in the woods and I was just overwhelmed. It seemed like I was driving through postcard country. All these breathtaking landscapes, rough hills, lovely little or big houses and many other surprises. It hit me that I was not in a other country but still in Belgium. I suddenly got this feeling that I only can sense when I discover something new!! I loved my country and felt the urge to tell other people that it is such a nice to place to visit.
The Ardennes are such a wonderful place and also a very historical place. It brings together to worlds: nature and war. There are so many places where you will be forced to remember that we can still enjoy these sights and call it home because of the sacrefice that other people made. Tanks standing next to the road and at the other side a breathtaking view with no houses, industrial fumes and other polluting items. And while walking through the woods with a bunch of teenagers and encountering insects, plants and water I felt free of stress.
This time it wasn't a visit to the city spa that managed me to feel relaxed and rather happy. No it were trees, clean air and the soothing sounds of nature. So when my pupils started to scream because they were 'attacked' by a monster I stayed very calm. It turned out to be a 'mei-kever' (may beatle) and I told them very quitely to be happy because these small insects make the difference. Not all Belgians will be as lucky as them to identify one. Meikevers are little animals that announce the arrival of summer and the awakening of nature. As long as they are still around seasons are a fact. To make sure that the next encounter would be rather a happy one I told them to make wish. I don't have to tell you that they were tempted to go out in the night and look for them!!
So come to Belgium and discover all the hidden treasures!! I promise you it will be worthwhile but don't forget to pack the umbrella and the sunglasses because the weather is the only thing that we can't guarantee. Welcome any time in our tiny country full of contradictions and strange situations.

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