Is it Spring yet, Hallerbos?

Or how we braved the winter like cold to check out one of Belgium’s top spring attractions, the bluebell forest in Halle, and ALMOST MISSED ACTUALLY SEEING IT.

So it’s been a pretty shitty Spring so far. Apart from the 2 amazing weeks last February that was way hotter than any day in actual Spring, the weather has so far been incredibly unpredictable (I’ve been promised 3 times in the news that the temperature’s going to hit 20’s, and it hasn’t happened yet).

Due to this, flower blooms have somehow been a bit diluted as some bloomed early due to that fake start, and some probably are still hibernating in this winter like cold.

(as of this writing, days are finally getting better)

Because of this, I’ve found myself craving for some spring feeling, despite this shitty weather and less than amazing bloom season.

SO – I’ve finally found the time and energy to take a trip to one of Belgium’s great seasonal attraction, the bluebells of Halle!

Bluebells!

As the name pretty much describes, for around 2 weeks in Spring, bluebells bloom on the forest floor of er… the forest of Halle (Hallerbos in Dutch). I’ve never been in the right timing to take a visit during the bloom, so finally when I figured that I could be free at the start of the bloom season, I took advantage.

Halle, where u at?

Halle is a small Flemish city at the edge of Brussels and French speaking Wallonia. It’s quite an easy trip from Brussels. There’s a direct train from any of the 3 main Brussels train stations. Midi or Zuid is the closest to Halle station and the fast train takes around 10 minutes (slower trains can take more than 15). From Halle station, it’s necessary to still take a bus to get to Hallerbos.

More information on how to get there by public transport, and by car can be found in the hallerbos site.

This year, De Lijn (the local bus company of Flanders) offers free shuttles to and from Halle station for free during 4 weekends of April starting from April 13.

In our case, we took a car and drove. During these times, they have several parking slots available so we just targeted one of them on Waze and drove. I guess normally during better weather, parking would be more difficult. As we arrived in the afternoon and it was quite cold and gray, we easily found a parking spot.

(Parking is free btw – a change for Belgium).

Out the car and into the woods we went.

Entrance to Hallerbos by the way is TOTALLY FREE as it’s a public forest.

As we had no clue and did not research about the walking trails, we pretty much just followed a group of Chinese tourists walking in the main road.

Walking trails and hiking maps are easily downloaded btw on the Hallerbos site.

*Side note: I was extremely surprised to encounter a Chinese tourist bus because… while this is a pretty sight, it’s not that well known like the tulips of Netherlands. I mean, this is the type of thing you find out because you’re literally trying to find something to do in Belgium.

At some point we got tired of following the crowd (it wasn’t long) and we broke off to check out the side trails. From there we started seeing these bluebells all over, and while it was “oohh pretty”, it wasn’t like “wooow nature is amazeballs”.

So we got back on the main road and tried to follow the path of where everyone was going til we reached a bridge that crossed the auto route/highway. We figured that oh ok, it’s already the highway so I guess that must be it… To be true I was a bit disappointed that I was driving 200km (back and forth) for that.

So we started to go back to the car… on the way we passed the Hallerbos museum and I suggested to check it out just to have done something else. In front of the museum was this huge ass map. As we started to check out the map, we then realized that we had literally not even entered the actual forest. The actual forest was actually over the bridge, past the highway. K

The infamous map

So off we went again to walk back 2km to the start of the actual forest. At this point, it actually started to rain and it was just adding to the already sucky feeling of this trip. Thankfully, I am now fully integrated into Belgian society and have now started to wear things that are more practical rather than fashionable (in this case, a waterproof ski jacket for the wind, rain and cold).

Anyway, as we started walking in the REAL, ACTUAL bluebell trails, it was there that we realized that DAMN, THIS IS WHY THIS PLACE IS A THING. It was amazing, beautiful, like something out of a fairytale cartoon intro where they try to paint how amazing the forest of the princess is… and all that.

All my pictures don’t quite capture the beauty of the place, all the soft purple on the floor in contrast with the tall hard trees. NATURE IS AMAZEBALLS.

There are now ropes to separate the fields from the trail and I’ve heard that there are now minders who watch out if people misbehave and pick or step on the flowers. Apparently flowers that are bothered won’t grow anymore on the same spot.

So guys, LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH.

In any case, when we were there, there wasn’t much people and everyone we saw were behaving quite well.

Anyway, the point of all this is that, Hallerbos is an absolute must see if you ever find yourself in Belgium in the coming few weeks.

Belgium, sometimes you can still surprise me with your unexpected beauty.

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