Fire and Water
August 22, 2001

Hiking - part 1 - from Maestricht to Kanne
Published: March 23, 2002
Ronald Langereis - Amsterdam
Dead links' cleansing: May 27, 2007

     Links Tropical temperatures
I'd been planning a week's hike by the GR5
to Diekirch, but for this heat-wave.
My expedition into the Ardennes was short-lived, indeed. On a Wednesday in August, by noon, I exited Maastricht central station, crossed the Meuse and lit a candle in Saint Servaes’ chapel. I’m not religious and I admit this was for the very first time in my life, but at the outset of an exacting march it seemed the appropriate ceremony to perform. And besides, as temperatures were already mounting to 85 degrees, it gave me an opportunity to shed three quarters, two tennies and a sou of good old Dutch pre-euro change, the weight of which I now no longer had to carry with me into Belgium uselessly.
Ton de Maagt - 'Hiking Page'
Scared to death in Visé
Any pub in Maestricht

But for this part in front of her basilica, in summer the Square of Our Lady is a plane-bordered service court of the local pubs. It's the kind of square where you'll feel at home at once and where you can stay idling in the sun for hours without bothering about the GR5's long miles waiting out there.

For, as Ton de Maagt wants us to remember, a back-packer's motto should always be:
"Anything you leave behind is in the bag."
These holy men, by the way, are cunning blokes. Of course, I had no intention at all to go down on my knees before his effigy, but while I was putting those coins into the box, a quarter rolled on the floor, and picking it up I suddenly realized my right knee was touching the tiles. He’d tricked me into it, this Servaes, and very subtly so.

The walls in the chapel are blackened from the soot of uncounted tapers burned here in the last five centuries.

Château Neercanne

After a coffee-break in a wonderful and ancient little square, where the Holy Mary needs has her own sacred basilica, I changed into my hiker’s outfit in a pub’s lavatory of stainless steel and then walked straight to the top of St. Peter’s Mount. Once up there, I didn’t wait to sink into a wicker chair in front of a restaurant and still slightly panting took in the view of the city I’d just left behind. Bloody hot! Thirst!
The connection with the GR5 once found, its trail
led me by the gaping wound of ENCI (First Dutch Cement Industries) along the Belgian border and finally, by a grand detour to the farmstead of Caester. Several hours later I came rumbling down into the old village of Kanne, which lies in the Jeker valley on the Albert Canal, and guess what! Finding a pub on my way I almost dived for the last free table in the service court, unlashed my boots, and almost rudely placed my order. Bitterrr, biggg, plea-ease.


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