What to do after celebrating Christmas and the New Year with family? Return to the road!
Where did we travel to?
We first spend a few days wild camping nearby Baraque Michel in the Belgian Ardennes.
Baraque Michel is third highest point of Belgium (674m / 2,211 ft). The Baraque itself is an inn and the starting point of many excursions. When founded between 1811 and 1813 (by Michel Schmitz) it was also refuge for stray travellers. A bell was sounded there during fog, which allowed the rescue of more than one hundred people during the 19th century. (Source: Wikipedia)
Next, we drove approx. 60km further south, just across the border into Luxembourg. We found a beautiful spot next to a river in the Our valley. In Ouren 3 borders embrace each other. The truck is standing in Luxembourg. On the other side of the river we find ourselves in Germany, and the town Ouren is located in Belgium.
Here also 3 natur parks touch each other: Hoge Veen – Eiffel (Belgium), Südeifel (Germany), and Our (Luxembourg. All part of the mountain region Eifel-Ardennen.
What did we do?
Not enough snow to go skiing, but no rain or heavy winds keeping us indoors. So we hiked a lot. We quickly discover that Jelly – the French basset (Basset Artésien Normand) that is visiting us for a month – loves the snow. She totally turns into a (6-year old) puppy; racing behind snowballs and otherwise prancing proudly in front of us. What a beautiful sight, an animal in it’s natural element.
In the evenings we find shelter in our warm house on wheels, our expedition camper truck. I’m reading the book “The Art of Travel” by philosopher Alain de Botton. It was a Christmas gift. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. But as an overland traveler who finds herself thinking about the question “why do people travel”, I just had to put it on my Christmas wish list. Luckily I did.
The Art of Travel
As I expected Alain de Botton often refers to scholars and artists from the past. But it makes sense why he does so. In the midst of the second chapter, I no longer manage to keep track of the things that I want to remember. I grab a marker from my tiny office.
With my feet on the “sofa”, a snoring dog in the background, the last two of the most delicious Belgian pralines (from one of the best traditional chocolatiers I know: Tartufo) and a green marker ready in my hand, I continue my journey through the Art of Travel.
“Journeys are the midwifes of thought” – Alain de Botton
He is right. Some of the best ideas come to mind when I’m on the road. Away from the day to day rush or worries that distract me. Times when I don’t need to be productive, creative or innovative I’m free. Free to open my eyes and mind for new experiences and discoveries. These moments the poetry of the road comes to life.
Poetry of the road
We’re taking Jelly for a walk. While she is running ahead of us I spot how the green moss beautifully covers the hill on my side. As a blanket they keep the hill warm during this cold winter day. In a children’s book your would read that the hill is not just a hill, but a sleeping giant instead. We better don’t wake him up.
While continuing our walk we observe how we leave a trace of footsteps in the fresh virgin snow. It makes the snow melt quicker. Not a spectacular discovery you would say. But the quick changes that take place around us didn’t go unnoticed. Something we most likely wouldn’t have processed if we were rushing to a next appointment.
The rest of the walk we enjoy chitchatting and playing with Jelly. We watch how the river finds its way underneath the cold ice. And are taken away by the magnificent sunny glow in the misty valley ahead of us.
As a small but living spec in this beautiful world, I find myself at peace.