[By Tonio:] A while back, our route should have taken us to no. 69, but the way was closed as the bridge that led to it was closed down as it was in danger of collapsing. No. 69 is at the edge of Leuven and in our map there's an "off network" route from 69 through Leuven and leading to no. 6. The off-network path through Leuven is 4.9 km long, while the "network" path from 69 to 6 is 2.6 km. Both alternatives may be joined into a 7.5 km long loop.
Saturday 16th, two days before our great adventure in Bucharest, Romania, we embarked on this 'special' adventure. We started at no. 6 in the extensive garden of an educational establishment at the edge of Leuven and could immediately admire the Kasteel van Arenberg next to the Dijle river.
The route followed the Dijle for a good while. We entered the central part of Leuven, within its ring road, in a Unesco World Heritage site - the Groot Begijnhof. This was a medieval village that used to house single women in a spiritual community. Nowadays it's used mostly for student accommodation. Leuven is very much a university town with different faculties spread within it, and students make up a sizable proportion of its population. The Begijnhof is maintained in excellent condition, although I have to say the old cobblestones are not easy to walk on at all.
We had a lovely tour of some of the main attractions in Leuven. We entered a complex with a watermill where we had lunch consisting of tapas, proceeded to a garden over a bridge and approaching the centre. We entered a church dedicated to St Anthony the Hermit, where there is a crypt and an exhibition on St Damien, who died of leprosy after going on a mission to take care of lepers on a remote island in Hawaii. It's so impressive how selfless some people can be.
We passed through the Oude Markt and had coffee at the Grote Markt, the main square with a magnificent town hall in gothic style, entered the Sint-Pieterskerk, said hello to Fonske, the mascot of Leuven, and passed by many other interesting sights.
Gianluca posed in front the statue of a boy, 'De Witte', in yet another garden, this one serving as a bicycle park. We had a rest at the main town park - Sint-Donatuspark - full of families with toddlers chasing beach balls and older children going wild over a kiosk with musical instruments and percussion instruments. Gianluca contributed a lot to the din while we were there. I sat down on the grass and amused myself watching the toddlers.
With all the detours we ended up walking much more than 7.5 km. The route led us to 69, from the other side of the closed bridge, where there was a beautiful view of the church tower of the Abdij van Park (the Park Abbey) where we had been previously. The remaining 2.5 km towards no. 6 was mostly next to the railway and quite uneventful except for some views into long back gardens planted with vegetables or housing chickens. It was here that Gianluca talked about his wish to study agriculture. It's either that or archaeology. Well, good luck Gianluca, either one of them would be an interesting career choice.
We came back to the car about six hours after setting out, tired but satisfied with our thoroughly successful day trip to Leuven.