When I was little, my grandparents often took me to the park of Tervuren in the Flemish Brabant province of Belgium. We'd go feed the ducks and swans there, walk around the lake and finish with an ice cream or a pancake at the bistro – of course we would.
When I was little, I visited the Royal Museum for Central Africa located in that park. It's now being renovated and will open again in 2017.
When I was older, but still fairly little, Boyfriend and I went for a walk around the ponds of the park. It's a place I thought I knew, but it turned out, there was a whole area I'd never seen before.
A walk in Tervuren park
A few months ago, in June, the province of Flemish Brabant asked me whether I wanted to spend a day walking around the province's walking route network. Of course, I did. They gave me a map and two routes to follow, of which one was located in the park of Tervuren.
I started my walk at the visitor center, which gives information about the park as well as the wider region and looked for the signs indicating which way I had to go. You see, the route network of Flemish Brabant is dotted with “knots”. These knots are numbered crossroads (or better “cross paths”) with signs that mark their number, as well as signs that point you in the direction of other knots. So all you need is a map (you can get one at the visitor center) to determine which route you want to follow and then walk from knot to knot.
My route was as follows: knot 4 > knot 41 > knot 42 > Spanish House > sight number 56 > sight number 57 > knot 4.
A bit too abstract? Here's what I saw along the way.
I entered the forest to the southeast of the “Kasteelvijver” (the first pond of the park) and crossed it diagonally until I reached a central point which linked many paths together. On my way I spotted runners, people walking their dogs as well as some training devices for those who want to get active. It was quiet in the forest and I enjoyed the fresh air while the lanes reminded me of Heverlee Woods, just five minutes from where I live.
On the crossroads, I turned right and headed on toward knot 42, which lies right between the “Kleine Vaartvijver” and the “Grote Vaartvijver” (two ponds). I then followed the water northward along a lovely wide walking lane until I reached the “Vossemvijver” (yet another pond).
I was supposed to turn right and go through the woods again before I reached the pond, but there was a sun-drenched bench overlooking the water waiting for me and I could not resist its call. I sat down for a moment, enjoying the lovely weather and watching people go by.
Back through the woods afterward and onto the Spanish House. That's an old mill turned into a cafe with a lovely terrace overlooking the “Molenvijver” (yet another pond, named after the mill). It offers several local beers as well as small bites like a plate of sausage and it even has tea from Koffie Onan, a cute coffee and tea place in my hometown Leuven.
I was hungry and it was lunchtime, so I ordered one of the Spanish House's open-faced sandwiches with quark. It came with a salad and topped with radishes. Yum!
With renewed energy, I continued my walk on to the part of the park of Tervuren that I knew from childhood, the part around the Royal Museum for Central Africa. As said, the museum is still being renovated and the beautiful building now stands hidden behind construction material.
So I just walked by and went to have a look at the Colonial Palace, built for the World Expo of 1897 and meant to showcase the colonial part of the Expo. You could say it's the museum's predecessor. Today's it's being used for cultural activities, as well as to house some of the scientific departments of the museum. It's a nice building, but cars parked in front stopped me from getting a good photo.
From the Colonial Palace, it wasn't far anymore to go back to my car. I'd parked it in the underground parking lot below the Markt (market square) where the visitor center is located and was happily surprised that I only needed to pay €3,6 for 3 hours of parking. That's a good deal in Belgium!
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