One of the places we were very keen to check out before the start if this trip was the ghost town of Doel; a post-apocalyptic urban settlement tucked away under the looming shadow of the mighty harbour just outside of Antwerp, Belgium. The rise and fall of Doel is a David v.s Goliath story that Goliath is set to win in the very near future when this fascinating town is demolished.
Doel has stood on the shores of Sheldt River for several centuries, quietly minding its own business, never bothering anybody. The residents going about their day-to-day life with quiet dignity. Sadly for these residents, Antwerp harbour had begun to swell, eating up all the land in its path and regurgitating industrial infrastructure. Doel was the next target.
In an attempt to save the town and prove that there was more to life than relentless industrial expansion a group called ‘Doel 2020’ tried to turn the town into a blank canvas for street artists morphing it into a dreamlike landscape inhabited by giant rats, skulls and a gorilla proposing to a bird. Alas, such creativity could not save Doel and the dwindling population of 25 bravely stay to defend their homes against the bulldozers and wrecking balls looming on the horizon.
Until they arrive though Doel is a very unique place. A minuscule population living alongside derelict old buildings, giants murals of birds encased within an an eerie atmosphere of silence and stillness. Undoubtedly a fantastic place for three bicycle travellers to explore.