2020 has really been the year to (re)discover your home turf. I’ve already covered a few Belgian gems on this blog: Bouillon, Antwerp, Ghent, Brussels, Leuven… But during lockdown we bought a car and that took our Belgian sightseeing to a whole new level: we embarked on our first camping trip this summer! Destination: Ostbelgien.
If you speak any German you might have guessed that this region is located in the east of Belgium. It’s on the border with Germany and the region was taken over by Belgium after the First World War. Just under 100.000 people live there and are mostly German-speaking.
As I hadn’t been driving in a while I wanted to gradually get into longer drives. Therefore we drove to Liège on the first day and stayed overnight. The next morning our adventure in Ostbelgien truly began and we set off for our first stop: Malmedy.
We opted for Malmedy as our first stop because of its historical importance: my boyfriend is very interested in history. During the Battle of the Ardennes the German SS killed dozens American prisoners of war here.
We parked up the car and had a mooch around. After spotting an amazing bakery we ordered some tea and coffee with sweets on the side. Afterwards we drove to the Malmedy Massacre Memorial, but were disappointed to see it’s on a roundabout and not very accessible.
Time to get our hiking boots on! We drove north to the highest point of Belgium: Signal de Botrange. On top of the 694m above sea level is a little tower of 6 meters so you can stand and look at the world from 700m above sea level.
As we didn’t want to arrive at the campsite too late, we embarked upon a walk of 8,7km through the beautiful High Fenns (Hautes Fagnes/Hoge Venen) which is signposted with a blue rectangle.
We stopped for supplies at a supermarket and then continued to our final destination for the day: Camping Wesertal. When we looked for a nice camping spot online this one ticked all our boxes: quiet, not very luxurious, lots of woodland and allowing BBQ’s! The camp site was even better once we got there – a little spot in the woods with tents dotted across, fresh breads that could be ordered for breakfast, hot showers and very friendly owners. We are already thinking of visiting again next year!
As we found ourselves so close to the border we couldn’t help but hop over and go explore! One of the more exotic trips we did this year 🙂 We were supposed to meet two friends coming from Bonn in Germany, but due to corona we didn’t meet in the end. We still tried to make the best out of the day and walked the Water Landscape Route in Einruhr.
The drive there was a bit terrifying for me as it was very steep at times with a good number of hairpin turns. But the 16km gave me plenty of time to regain some peace of mind before the return journey! You follow the path alongside the lakes, clamber up a rather steep hill and are rewarded with spectacular views over the dam. The second part of our walk was busier, as many people take the boat to or from the dam and walk that part of the route.
We meant to visit the next day, but as we were pretty much passing through Monschau on our way back we decided to make a stop there and then. My parents had told me about this quaint little town and honestly, it was just stunning! Other tourists agreed with us, so it was probably the busiest spot we visited during our trip. Finding a place to eat therefore wasn’t an easy task, but we got lucky and ate the best schnitzel in a delicious local mustard sauce at Eifelstübchen.
After this wonderful meal we drove back through the lovely woods and spent another night in our cozy little tent.
On our last full day in Ostbelgien we picked a slightly shorter walk (7km) than the day before in and around the village of Raeren, northeast of Eupen. It was a cloudy and, later on, rainy day and the first part of the walk was rather average, until we came across a deserted railway station.
Alongside the old railway tracks is a popular bicycle path and a little further some old train carriages have actually been converted into a small café. We had to make a little stop, of course. Afterwards we continued the loop and happily drove back towards Eupen, our final stop.
Our last night we spent in Eupen at the Sleepwood Hotel, very cozily decorated with – you guessed it – lots of wood, giving it a bit of a cabin feeling. We had a little walk around the town but didn’t find that much to see or to do, so we retreated to one of the beer gardens on the main square. Afterwards we had an early dinner at Piya and just went to chill at the hotel. Make sure you don’t miss out on the scrumptious breakfast!
Writing this post and sorting through the pictures really makes me miss the bright and warm summer days, but eased the pain of not being able to travel (very far) at the moment. Did you explore some unknown corners of your own country this year?