All my life I have been living close to the (Belgian) border. When I was a kid, there was still (occasional) border control, and I was told stories of old times when smugglers were active, or when - during WWI - the Germans put an electric fence on the border. With increasing European integration all this disappeared, and now one often has to pay close attention to even know that a border has been crossed. Building style, slight differences in the appearance of traffic signs, and the quality of the road are subtle hints for which side of the border one is at.

This is a very convenient situation, reflecting true integration of economic transactions and other activities. It also reflects the absence of nationalism. The local culture, including that of the other side of the border, is so much more dominant here than what is being imposed from far-away parts in the Netherlands or Belgium.

Unfortunately, some voices are calling for the re-instatement of borders, even within the EU. Intelligent cameras appear on the Belgian side of border sites on major roads. And culture is once again defined by many people in terms of nations, rather than localities.

As a symbolic gesture against these trends, and against borders in general, I put up here an impression of the border sites within a (rough) radius of 25 km from my home. They are all taken from Google Streetview, and many of the smaller ones - even some that I often use - could therefore not be included. But what is included gives an impression of how obscure borders in this part of the world are. Although there should be an official marker stone at each location, you will usually not be able to find even that. So let these sites be a tribute to the absence of borders. And of course I invite you to actually visit a few of these places when you happen to be in the area.

I will generally go West to East. Let's start with an obscure one near the Achelse Kluis monastery (which itself lies partly on Dutch and partly on Belgian territory). The road leading East from here is actually the border, for about 1 km (Streetview does not include it).

 The next one can only be passed by foot or on bike:


On the next one, you can actually see the marker stone (left, behind the traffic signs):

Now one on a major road, with both subtle (road, style of the house) and explicit (the old barrier that hasn't been down for decades) border signs.


 The next one is again more obscure:


Now one that I often pass, along the canal:

On the other side of the canal, we have to let quite a few go because the area is too rough for Streetview, but we find a notorious one (for the bad quality of Belgian-side road, and for many traffic accidents):

And again we have to let many sites go, until we come to the Breyvin area.

And then we have one where the entire street is the border:

And here is the one that I probably most often cross, and with familiar horses living right on the border.

And again a rather obscure one.

Perhaps the most beautiful one?

To close off, one very near to where I used to play football once a year.