Lier on the Nete

We are now east of Antwerp and are moored next to a little town called “Lier”. The pontoon here is 400m long and has coin operated electricity and water. Mooring fees are low, especially if joining the VPF which offers 1/2 price moorings for Lier, Gent and Brugge.

The town Lier can be reached by a 10 minute bike ride. Little stone bridges cross the "Little Nete” river which surrounds the centre like a moat.

The first thing we saw in town was the "Zimmer Tower" with an amazing clock. The clockmaker and astronomer, Louis Zimmer, had donated the clock to the town at the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Belgium. One clockwork operates accurately a whole number of meters, clocks and calendars. In the adjoining Zimmer museum visitors get a good insight into the astronomical clock which shows the turning and position of the planets. I didn't know that of the nine planets of our solar system Venus and Uranus turn in the opposite direction from the other seven. Or that the Sumerians had the first 30 day calendar and that the Babylonians had already a seven day calendar 1000 BC. They determined the seven days from the 5 “stars” they could see (in reality planets) plus the earth and the moon.

From the Zimmer tower we turned into a side street to a wonderful market place, the Grote Markt. In its centre stands the town hall with a 14th century belfry. The  market place is surrounded by charming Flemish gable houses. 

We finished our first walk around town with a coffee at one of the many street cafés. 

As we are always interested in trying the local specialities, we also ordered a "Lierse Vlaaike”, a small, very sweet cake only available in Lier.

Otherwise, we haven’t got a lot further in our "food reconnaissance tour" of Belgium. The locals we have asked all recommended the hot potato chips, and admittedly the potatoes are very good here. But call us snobs - we don’t classify chips as gourmet food! The last Belgian we asked, when pressed by us for more info, mentioned the minced steaks made from horse meat. Has anybody out there been game to try these??? Any other (better) recommendations?

On Saturday a strong gale was blowing and the driving rain didn’t let up all day. The boat rocked non-stop and for the first time I felt a little sea-sick. We stayed in all day catching up with emails, reading and ate spicy curry to warm us up. 

On Sunday the weather was fine again, but when we arrived in town, we found out that the Pigeon Market, we had looked forward to, was only held during the winter months and the Lace Museum, we wanted to visit, was closed. Instead we stumbled onto a great flea market. 

We also walked through the narrow lanes of the ancient Beguinage, a village of 162 houses, convent and church within the heart of town, where in 1258 the first of the Beguines settled down. The village is a Unesco Heritage site today.

In the afternoon we returned to the boat with a new acquisition from the flea market: a halogen cooker. Quite a few of our boating friends have got one and sang their praises. As most Dutch made boats don’t have an oven, these halogen cookers can roast, bake and steam almost anything.

We are leaving Lier at 4pm this afternoon. The harbourmaster has given us a tidal calendar and we worked out that this is the best time to sail down the Nete and make it into the Bovenschelde just before tide starts to rise. 

Wish us luck!

© Austin Robinson 2019