Hiking in Hotton

It was such a lovely Saturday yesterday. When you wake up in the morning with a sunshine like that, with, oh so springy feeling and too much espresso, you want to get out and hiking. Or at least so do Waffle and I.

We have been struggling with getting the activity levels up again, but yesterday it was rather difficult to find any excuses to stick to the sofa. So we searched for a nice hike, not so far away and headed towards Hotton, in Walloon. That would take us about 15 kilometers through Belgian countryside.

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Hotton is such a lovely, and very Wallonian village somewhere on the eastern edge of Ardennes. Our trail took off at the center of the village and quickly took us into the fields and forests. The area seems to be densely populated by badgers. So much so, that farmers diligently fence off their fields. The badger trails are constantly crossing streams and roads. We passed some dead badgers too. Such a sad sight.

Our 15 kilometers quickly grew longer, by accidental wrong turn. We had to trust in Google maps for a moment. Guiding your way through trails only relying on small piece of map and description can be difficult. I recommend descent maps (Note to self)! A small detour and map reading later we found back on the right course and found the next very cute village. So cute and small that people don’t seem to even lock their doors, since the most dangerous intruder is the badger or neighbor borrowing sugar. Or what ever french people borrow from each other.

We kept a hard eye on the guide book and managed to stay on the trail. Exiting the village brought us to a plain of fields high up on top of a hill. There we saw a black line of birds appearing in the horizon. There we cranes! Wedge after another of them, must have been over thousand birds in total, making their way up into north, towards Scandinavia and Russia. Maybe among them there was the couple that stays close by my childhood home. Oh the nostalgia.

We still had quite some kilometers to go, both of us getting a little it tired and the air cooling down as the sun was drooping lower and lower. We passed still another village, spotted some deer and oddly behaving bulls on a field and were thoroughly chilled and tired when we arrived back at the car. But they day had been very beautiful again, nature pampered us a little, and I find myself again to be very fond of the southern half of Belgium!

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Beautiful sunset!

Today we still crawled onto a trail. To the coastal side, near Knokke, here in Belgium. Our legs were already sore and the hike felt extremely long. We probably managed to pick the most boring trail there was! Nothing more to mention about that.

More of the pictures here!

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Finland – Once more

It has been a really miserable winter in Belgium, while in Finland there was a hefty season of below -20°c and loads of snow. Somewhere in the midway of January I had the idea, that we definitely need to go and find some snow in Finland! A good flight connection appeared for last weekend and so we went. Off to a mini

holiday in Finland,
with the goal of meeting my friends and family and snow.

When the time to go came, the real harsh winter had stepped aside, and I was afraid we would only get to enjoy the grey and rainy side of
Helsinki.. We landed during the night to the snow covered airport, greeted by a huge convoy of snowplows, a surprisingly handsome sight! And most importantly, no rain or grey weather!

Our dear friend had offered to house us over our stay, right at the heart of
the hippie district of Helsinki; Kallio. Once we crawled in, there was a night snack waiting for us and a very intriguing TV show about gigolos. You should never keep your telly open later than the midnight on a Saturday…

We only had two full days to spend in Finland, and a huge bunch of people to meet. Sunday, being the first day was planned full of eating related activities. After our host pampered us with breakfast we moved down for a brunch, where we were supposed to meet some other friends too, our dear hiking companions from Tampere. Brunch was taking place in one of the cosy corners of Kallio, in a place called Oiva. Oiva offers one of those brunches you will need for the killing of a massive hungover. The brunch is massive, buttery, meaty, hearty, comforting and huge. As well as delicious. If you happen to be in a need of such in Helsinki, go visit Oiva.

The eating did not stop there. After a short stroll around town it was time to meet some of my family members. The part of family, that still carries a lot of the hospitality of the people of Karelia. Meaning food, food as much as you can eat. On top of that brunch. Oh deary me, were we full after that!

After that short hangaround, we shifted our wobbly, whaleish bodies back to where we originally came from, only to sit on a dinner table, with some old, and newer friends. Our kind host had prepared some delicacies while we were eating out. Dinner was very Italian, trying to deceive us into thinking it was light, by hiding among a fruity snack. Failing miserably after introducing mud cake and profiteroles as desserts. By that time, both Waffle and me had gained 5 kilos.

Finland Friends Outdoors

After such a feeding we felt the need for some light activities, to get things going again. We headed for Espoo, stopped by a friend to have a second breakfast and entertain a stay at homer mom. Handily we were rather close to
Nuuksio National Park, the perfect location for a afternoon walk.

The day was sunny with occasional snowfall, absolutely beautiful setting for walking. The forest was pretty as a picture, with pillows of snow on the trees, sounds muffled by the snow cover on the ground, and absolutely no one around. Trail taking us to a few bonds and swamps. That was our relaxation moment in the midst of balancing the timetable of seeing friends and relatives and food. In the evening we were ordered back to the city center of Helsinki, drinking some nice Finnish beers and and chatting with who ever happened to come by. You know, those basic things you do. That night we stayed at one of my relatives, the sauna at his place was just the cherry on top for that day.

Tuesday came all too fast. Our last mission was to meet the last of my family and some more food. After some guitar solos and hearty conversations we needed to leave.

Always when I return to Finland, I get the feeling, that I am home. It is still my home country and the silence of the nature is the best remedy for my soul. Now I got my winter, which I was missing in Belgium and got to see my lovely friends, who magically always find some time to see me, thank you for that!

Reincarnation – Kind of.

It would be fabulous, to believe that somehow everybody moves on from one life to another. To have the ability to receive suddenly parts of memories from a previous existence (maybe less fun if you happened to be a worm, or a cockroach. That must make you think of your own behavior. To be able to blame Karma for all the miseries in life, and thank it for the success, that must be pleasant. But imagine, if you happen to stomp dead a cockroach that was the less nice aunt of yours, or catch a fish with a worm who was the uncle, who always smelled of old booze.

Unfortunately, I have no such believe. I have big doubts on whether living things have a soul or a spirit, what ever you want to call it. And since that is missing, I guess any beautiful picture of reincarnation might be a bit difficult to paint. What I think, is that we a trapped in a cycle of matter. Our molecules and atoms will keep turning in the great cycle of life, without any strings attached to our mental side.

Honestly, the cycle of our building blocks, that, too, is a beautiful idea. Our tiny oxygen, carbon and nitrogen molecules, as well as many others, they are transported by bacteria into the ground, if we are buried, and your aunt, the worm, takes it further, it becomes a link in the chain of life on earth. Every one of them as valuable as the other. No Karma related.
Karma Chameleon
I think Fish of Gold has it better!