The biggest issue with the GR 5 is where you’re going to sleep each night. For the most part, I’ve had to go off the trail for lodging. Last night was the furthest off the trail; 3 km each way. I’ve been lucky that so far I’ve found something each night. It also limits how far you can go. You may want to go more than 20 km today but the next available bed may be an additional 20 km away. And even then you have no assurance the place still exists when you get there. So, you end up stopping way too soon because you don’t want to get stuck outside somewhere. So, here is where I have spent each night. Here’s where I stopped for the night so far:
Day 0: Bergen op Zoom
This seems to be the actual start of the trail for now. Train from Amsterdam to Bergen. The trailhead is at the Stay Ok hostel around 2 or 3 km from the station. Check out the restaurant across the street from the train station. There is an explosion of Laurel & Hardy paraphanelia in there – on the floor, on the walls and hanging off the ceilings. But don’t eat there. Ordered a hamburger and could only handle a couple of bites.
Stay Ok has private and dormitory rooms. Bed in s six person room with breakfast was 22 euros. This includes sheets but no towel. Typical European breakfast of breads, lunch meats, yogurt, cereal and boiled eggs. Buffet dinner that at night that is extra.
The trail starts at the entrance. Turn left and follow the white and red markers.
Day 1: Kiekenhoeve
This is 16 km from Bergen. When you get to Kiekenhoeve, you’ll cross the main street to continue straight on to the trail. At the street turn left for a B&B about 500 m on the left side. Can’t remember the name. The cost is 48 euros for a private room and that includes breakfast. All rooms include breakfast unless stated otherwise. As far as I could tell, and I asked around, this was the only game close to the trail. This B&B has 8 rooms. The family who owns and runs the place live on he premises. But other then during check-in and breakfast never saw them. No other meals besides breakfast. I was told there was a restaurant within a few 100 m but didn’t try it.
Day 2: Wuustwezel
The trail goes thru a suburb and then turns left. But if you go straight ahead, you’ll one to this huge church on the main street (N133, I think). Turn right and you’ll come to what looks like are ally cute cafe. It’s Taverne ‘t dorp; a restaurant and a 3 bed B&B. Family owned and run. Best place I’ve stayed in so far. The family was great also. The room was $75. I ended up having dinner there also and it was great too. The next morning, instead of going back to the trail, I just turned left out of the B&B and went straight down N133. There is a bike path all the way to Westmalle Abbey, where I picked up the trail again.
Day 3: St. Antonius
Planned on staying at the Jeugdherberg hostel. However, when I got there, found out they are only open on Fri and Sat thru May. Ended upon St. Antonius, which was 3 km off the trail. Stayed at De Heidebloem. The outside looked nice, had been renovated. The inside, hallways, etc, looked rundown and old. The room was fine. Had walked around before going in and didn’t see many other options.
Day 4: Grobbendonk
In Grobbendonk you will cross a main street, Vierselse Baan. The trail continues across the street, but if you turn right, you’ll come across the ‘t Hemelryck. This B&B has only 7 rooms and had a special of 85 euros for a single. Normal rate is 99. So, expensive but very nice and the guy working there was very hospitable. When he heard I wanted to wash my clothes, offered to have them done in the hotel washer. Fancy and expensive restaurant, which I didn’t try.