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Why skating is the best training for winter sports

Skiing and snow boarding are very intensive for your body. But many people leave for wintersports holiday without properly preparing their bodies.  Skating (inline & board) is a great way to prepare your body and brain to go on holiday and come back without serious long term injuries. Just keep reading to discover why.

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The skiing slopes, your catwalk. Dare to wear!

For many skiers and snowboarders, wearing the right outfit is of utmost importance. There are a lot of people who ski down the slopes. Nothing is more convenient than being able to recognize your friends because of their unique outfit. There’s the possibility of wearing a colorful (but fashionable) ski suit or even a fun onesie!

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Camping in The Netherlands, Rehab from Urban Life

When I was young, I would listen to a certain song quite often: ‘Niet Ver Weg’ by Samson en Gert. Literally translated it means ‘Not Far Away’, about going on vacation close by. We went on a mini vacation in The Netherlands. We went camping at camping Batenstein in Woerden.
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Route 54, cycling on the abandoned train track

We all dream of sunny and exotic destinations. Those dreams make us blind for the beauty in our own country, but Belgium and the Netherlands have a lot to offer as well. On the first sunny Sunday of the year, my dad and I went cycling in our own region: from Waasland to Zeeland.

CYCLING ROUTES

When the first rays of sun hit the earth, he gets his horse of steel from the garage. My dad is not your typical Flemish bicyclist. He doesn’t have a cycling group, tight outfits, or a fancy light bicycle without a bell. A ‘regular’ bike with pumped up tires and good suspension is his weapon of choice to conquer the Flemish cycling routes.

Carefully he chooses his routes, and the so called ‘fietsknooppunten’ – cycling junctions – are his best friends. He loves the way the bike paths in this network are selected with great care: descent bike lanes that are (as good as) car free. It’s a lovely way to work out, and get peace of mind at the same time.

Fietsknooppunten beekje

BEVEREN – HULST – BEVEREN

On a sunny Sunday in March, I made a preposition to ‘go ride our bicycles together, or something’. I don’t hate cycling, but cycling for the sake of it, never called to me. Riding my bike with a destination in mind appeals to me a little more, so I proposed to ride to Hulst, in south of the Netherlands.

Hopeful we left Beveren, our home town in the north of Belgium. I did fear a little for the distance we would track: Beveren-Hulst-Beveren is a 40 kilometer cycling tour. My daily route only consists of two times 7,5 kilometers. So to track 20k, recuperate for a little while, and try to get back in one afternoon suddenly seemed like a lot.

cycling route meadow

TRACK 54

A big part of our route was the old train track ‘Track 54’. This train track opened between 1870 and 1871 and went from Mechelen (BE) to Terneuzen (NL). In 1952 they stopped using the line between Sint-Niklaas (BE) and Hulst (NL) and eventually it was made into a cycling path. This cycling path is also included in the network of ‘fietsknooppunten‘ in the Belgian region ‘Waasland’, and the Dutch region ‘Zeeland’.

Track 54 is a straight line which runs through the Belgian and Dutch landscape. Cycling in one straight line does not bother, though. You pass meadows and forests, and once in a while you come across a horse or a donkey.

Cycling on the Old Train Track

fietsknooppunten bos

VACATION FEELING AT HOME

I never though that making a cycling tour on a random Sunday would make me feel so good. Not even five kilometers in the tour and I felt that genuine holiday feeling: happiness and completely relaxed. Now I know why all those Flemish bicyclists get on their bikes so often!

Do you ever go cycling close to home, or in Flanders? Where’s your favorite spot? 

Fietsknooppunten Hulst

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Bucket List 2017: Travel Edition

Last Christmas I gave a ‘bucket list calendar’ to Thaïsa as a present. I wanted to start the year with some fun challenges and enjoy every moment. I realized back then that I hadn’t made my own bucket list yet, something I definitely plan on doing this year. I won’t bother you with the entire thing, but here are the 5 travel destinations that are high on my bucket list.

1. Lapland

Next winter I want to go to Lapland at all costs. It wouldn’t be my first visit, the first time I visited (Finnish) Lapland I lost my heart to it. Firstly, I love the peaceful atmosphere of the landscape during daytime as well as during nighttime. Secondly, the northern lights, which is often the main reason to visit Lapland. I’ve already seen it, but it’s pure bliss and I want to see it again. Thirdly, sled dogs. I would like to volunteer on a husky farm for a while. I’m a dog person, I can’t help it, I just love dogs.

lapland reindeer

sled dogs

2. (French) Alps

Mountains, hot chocolate, beautiful sunsets and a big pack of snow – yes please! At least one week a year, I rush up the mountains to hit the slopes with my board. I start yearning for that feeling as soon as I get in the car for the drive home.

mountain view

2B. Alps in summer

A cooling breeze, the same breathtaking landscape, but without the whit glistening snow. I like the twisty roads to conquer with my motorcycle and I like the paths to conquer with my hiking boots. I don’t know which one I yearn for most. What I do know is that my tent will be my base camp every day. Camping gives you that perfect holiday feeling as soon as you leave home.

motorcycle and tent

3. New Zealand

New Zealand is the first of three countries I haven’t been to and that are on my bucket list. I am really looking forward to visiting this pearl of nature. The mountain ranges are, of course, a must-see for me. Also several national parks that peaked my interest. And attending a rugby game would be part of the deal too, perhaps even a game of the All Blacks – the national rugby team of New Zealand, and the best team of the world.

4. Japan

Mountains! Yes, again! Japan is the mecca for freeride snowboarding, where red and blue slopes are called red and blue areas. But Japan also has a rich culture which provides some healthy variation in my mountain-addiction. Especially the traditional temples and traditional arts interest me. But the food is also wonderful – think sushi!

snowy creek

sushi bucket list

5. Cuba

I really don’t know much about Cuba yet. It has a warmer climate than the rest of my dream destinations, which is nice for a change. Cuba is a country I primarily want to visit for its music culture and the big amount of old timers driving around over there.

What is your ultimate bucket list travel destination?

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Skiing in Belgium, a spontaneous adventure

Winter is in town. We got our skis out of the closet and decided, quite last minute, to go skiing in Belgium for a day. We drove to Ovifat for an entire day of snow fun.

When you think of skiing, you think of a very long bus drive, kilometers of slopes, panoramic views of beautiful mountains and making sure you catch the last lift home to get back to your chalet. We had a little bit of a different experience, but we enjoyed it just as much.

A couple of hours driving from our beloved home town, Ghent, lies Ovifat. It’s all the way in the east of Belgium. In the Rue du Piste 1 you’ll find the parking lot of a nice private terrain where you can enjoy a day of skiing on 3 (!!) different slopes.

skiing Ovifat elan k2

The practical side of skiing in belgium

First of all, the highway and big roads are free of snow and safe to drive. However, this is not the case for the smaller streets, including the street towards the parking lot of the skiing area! Winter tires are desirable when you’re driving towards the Belgian ski slopes.

Secondly, did you know that the skiing terrains in Belgium seldom allow snow boarders? It feels like a bit discriminating, but I’m sure they have a good reason for that. At least, I hope they do. So PJ went – feeling a little offended – skiing in stead of boarding,  for the first time in 15 years.

Another thing we discovered is that in order to use the lifts you have to buy a ticket with a limited amount of trips. Every time you take a lift back up the hill, they punch a hole in your card. And you’ve got 18 trips per card. At first we thought that 18 descends per person was not a lot, but at the end of the day we still had a couple of squares without a hole in it.

Finally, there’s one bistro at the top of the slopes where you can buy something to eat and drink. I would recommend to bring some snacks of your own to enjoy as much of the experience as possible. The first time on the slopes in the season is quite tiring and the cold doesn’t do much for your energy levels either. Also, don’t for get to bring water on your skiing trip! In this blog post you’ll read about why you should bring water and how to make it durable.

skiing ovifat Thaïsa
Ready to hit the slops for the first time this season!
skiing Ovifat lift
The lift of the red slope is not one to underestimate. It’s fast and steep.
Testing skis

After a couple of descends we got the idea to switch skis. Even though PJ’s skis are way too long for me and my skis are in fact too short for PJ, we still decided to shake it up. The difference we felt was remarkable, and that wasn’t only because of the different length of the skis. I won’t go into detail, but let’s say the type of ski definitely has a big impact on your skiing experience. The way a ski feels to you depends on your level, your style and your body type.

If you’re renting skis, for example at A.S. Adventure, Skimium, or a local rental place, I’d urge you not to sell yourself as the next world champion free ride or slalom if that’s not the case. The people who decide which skis you’ll be using for a week should be able to trust on your word to give you the right skis. The problem in the high season is that exchanging your skis for another pair is not always possible. In the sad case where your level doesn’t match the level of the skis, you’ll probably won’t be able to enjoy your holiday as much as you’d like.

skiing Ovifat change
The plus side of working in ski rental is being able to adjust skis on the slopes
skiing Ovifat elan
I was so ready to try out this brand new pair of Elan Amphibio 76
DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY

We used the day to test our techniques. I even tried to take my first couple of small jumps. Maybe we also talked a lot about technical skiing stuff. But most of all, we enjoyed ourselves a lot. It was my first time on the slopes in four years. For PJ it was his first time skiing in fifteen years. We had a lot of laughs and we joked around a bit, and we definitely enjoyed skiing in Belgium.

skiing Ovifat relax
The best kind of break for PJ is the one where you’re sitting in the snow and you’re enjoying a sandwich with chocolate-hazelnut spread
skiing Ovifat view
Even without majestic mountains, the sun provides you with magical snowy landscape views
skiing Ovifat selfie
Spontaneous adventures lead to smiling faces!

Our spontaneous little adventure gave us a lot of joy and a little bit of sunburn on our cheeks. Skiing in Belgium was a great idea in our humble opinion and we’re definitely going to do it again!

Did you ever go skiing in Belgium or elsewhere close to home? How was your experience?