The Orientation meeting yesterday was preceded by beer, wine and nibbles, a chance for tour members to meet and greet: we already knew 3 couples from our previous Pennywise tour, also connected with a couple from Wisconsin who had been at MTR 2018 in Grand Rapids and on the post-tour had met our HOOTs friends Jim & Betsy; also Norm from Virginia whose daughter attended Haverford and graduated with our daughter (the young women know each other from the Haverford alumni group in Seattle) – small world! Tour leaders Steve and Karen went over safety rules and a bit about cue sheet reading.
The get-acquainted dinner was at Amadeus Restaurant, next door to our hotel. They specialize in BBQ ribs – who knew that was a Belgian specialty. Again more socializing – I am sure it will be a fun group – almost all of the teams are Pennywise veterans.
After an extensive European breakfast (think croissants, bread, fruit, cereal, eggs, sausage, pastries), Steve went over the specific turns for today’s route to Oudenaarde, south of Ghent. After negotiating the “get out of town” challenges, including traversing a university complex, much of the outbound route was along a canal, where we saw numerous barges. We also stopped to talk to a local who was picking up walnuts that had fallen from the trees after the winds and rain of Sunday.
Arriving in Oudenaarde, we met up with Steve and Roni from New Jersey and together went to the Centrum Ronde van Vlaandere, a museum about the history of the one-day Tour of Flanders, which ends in Oudenaarde (and begins in Antwerp). We ate lunch at the Peloton Cafe, before heading back to Ghent.
Our return route wandered through farming areas, where we saw corn, potatoes, and possibly beets. We managed to get into the city just in time for bicycle traffic mayhem as the university students were dispersing every which way on foot or by bicycle.
Bill and Karen from New Jersey had organized a get-acquainted visit to a local bar with over 500 beers. Don and I went to meet up with some of the group, even before showering.
Deciding about dinner we checked for recommendations on Yelp and walked to Balls & Glory, cited for typical Belgian fare. We each had a meatball, Don’s pork, mine chicken, with stoemp (mashed potatoes with carrots and greens) – again who knew that meatballs and mashed potatoes were typical Belgian fare, but they tasted great. The restaurant was obviously popular with the university students as we had 40+ years on any other diner.
44 miles, 12 mph