New discoveries

Exams and a study-related excursion have prevented me from writing lately. Such a shame, as I was already running behind on schedule. I am not mentioning this by means of an excuse as to why I haven’t posted lately, but because the study excursion turned out to be a lot more succesful than I had expected. Not only study-wise, but also environment-wise have I been amazed.

Photo by Frank Auperlé

An in-depth review of the trip will follow under the correct country-headers, but I wanted to used this post both as a sneak preview as well as toto express my amazement of how close you can live to beautiful nature without even knowing about it. Because I study applied earth sciences, the trip was focussed on the geological aspect of the things we got to see. However this was combined with walks through the area that I would recommend to anyone with the slightest interest in hiking.

Just briefly look at the following photos. Where would you think they were taken? I am not sure what I would guess, but I would certainly not guess it right.
IMG_0088 IMG_0121
The colour and shape of the rock formations, combined with the contrasting blue sky that we were very lucky to have would never give away that the photo on the left was taken in Luxembourg and the right one (although you might have recognised that from a Dinant postcard) in Belgium. If I hadn’t taken these photos myself I wouldn’t have believed it. The larger picture above wasn’t taken by me, but I was there when it was taken and that one too was really taken in Belgium, despite the alien-like atmosphere it has to it. The region in the Ardennes is eally interesting to rock-climbers too!

We also found volcanic deposits in the Eifel, Germany, ordered as if someone had been playing with coloured sand like this:

Photo by Robèrt Kroonen

Amazing isn’t it! Okay, I can understand that rock formations might not be the first thing you look at when you’re walking around an area and I therefore won’t bore you with my interprations of how they formed, but these special outcrops are so nice just to look at and would absolutely catch my attention, even I would not be studying geology. Some rocks even contained large mineral crystals that were absolutely beautiful and that you can sometimes buy on those markets, how cool would it be if you found a souvenir like that in the wild?!

Yet another little discovery I made during the same trip is not another rock, or hiking area, but a book. Yep. Not for everybody, as it is in German (I don’t even speak German properly, but I bought it anyway, because it is such a fantastic guidebook, especially for hitchhiking trips). The book contains 24 European countries, complete with maps (not detailed ones, but they have all the highways on them) and descriptions of hotels, hostels, bed & breakfasts and guesthouses on the way. This means that you can look up a nice place for a stop when you’re driving on the highway and will want to stop after +- two more hours of driving. Handy when on a roadtrip, but near essential when your hitchhiking without having a clue when you will get a ride to where and when you’ll need a place to stay for a night.


All in all you might wonder why I am so enthusiastically speaking about German books and places that are close to home to me, but might be miles away for you. This is because it is not necessarily these places that are so amazing. It is more that I’ve been living only about a three-hour drive away from these places forever and have flown miles to enjoy the wonders of the other side of the world without having ever seen what is just around the corner… It hasn’t been until the last few years that I have taken an interest in visiting countries and places closer to me.

There is so much to discover and for those with little money or time, I guess I want to teach the lesson that travelling and seeing marvellous things is not a matter of getting as far from home as possible, but a matter of opening your eyes.

Have you made any unexpected discovered lately? Please share where you love and what place close to you amazed you.