BELGIUM – There’s always a turning point in autumn, after which it suddenly feels more like winter. And sometimes that turning point is in the middle of the day. It was on the bright and sunny morning of such a day, October the 19th 2014, that a friend and I set for a bike ride through the Hesbaye, a region of empty, rolling hills in central Belgium.
Our journey started in Tienen (FR: Tirlemont), a town of about 35,000 in the Dutch-speaking province of Flemish Brabant.
1. Tienen station, where I had arranged to meet my friend (who also happens to be the co-founder of WPP)
2. The station, which was about to undergo renovations
The street in front of the station:
7. The station again
8. A row of houses in a style typical in the wider region (they could also have been in, for instance, Leuven, Maastricht or Liège)
9. A street running out of town to the south, on the other side of the railway
10. An old church just outside Tienen
Five kilometers down the road, our first stop, Hoegaarden, a village of about 7,000 that is most famous for the beer of the same name:
Hoegaarden has a small historic center:
14. The eighteenth century church of Saint Gorgonius
15. The town hall
As in many other towns in Belgium, the picturesque main square is used as a parking lot:
19. Inside the church
21. Typical landscape of the Hesbaye (NL: Haspengouw)
22. The clouds are starting to gather now
View from next to the intercity railway line from Liège to Brussels, which runs between Hoegaarden and Tienen without stopping (the motorway runs next to it)
25. Fortiefied farms like this one are typical of the Hesbaye
26. Now across the language border, the Abbey of Neerheylissem in the Walloon-Brabant (French-speaking) municipality of Hélécine (NL: Heilissem)
28. Across another border, in the village of Racour, which is in the Province of Liège, a house with a strange kind of facade that can only be found in certain parts of Belgium (you may have seen them in my other posts)
Autumn is coming closer with the clouds:
In the village of Ardevoor, which is in the municipality of Hélécine
35. Church in Hakendover (it had started to rain, and we had previously sheltered from a downpour at the station in nearby Ezemaal)
Back in Tienen, which is nationally most famous for its sugar factory, which you can see here:
41. Tienen is sometimes a bit rundown
42. But efforts seemed to be being made to restore it
Tienen is also a town with a history going back over a thousand years. It therefore has numerous historic buildings:
43. The orphanage
Veemarkt and the Our Fair Lady of Ten Poel Church:
48. The Our Fair Lady of Ten Poel Church, which was built in the 13th century
Two old houses:
51. The autumn night falling over Tienen’s Grote Markt, with the 12th century church of Saint Germanus in the middle, and the town hall to its right
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