Dutch writer Willem Frederik Hermans (1921-1995) once stated: “The moment you are being transported in a different way than someone else, you start waving.”
This is exactly what happens when taking a ride with Le Petit Train à Vapeur de Forest (‘Little Steam Train of Vorst’, PTVF) in the lovely Bempt Park. The PTVF has been run since 1984 by volunteers passionate about the world of railways. They have built historically accurate steam, diesel and electric locomotives on a 1:8 scale. These devoted tiny train aficionados operate their own rail network which circles a pond and crosses a bridge. I, for one, am of the opinion that the PTVF is managed better than the Belgian National Railways (NMBS). Rumors go that many of the PTVF volunteers have been headhunted to get NMBS back on tracks, but unsuccessfully so far.
Some people think that the PTVF is just for kids. Others, like me, believe that adults must take full advantage of the meditative effects of a ride with a convertible mini-train. I strongly recommend taking a steam train for the 1 km trail. Just sit down and be ready for your small portion of happiness as the uniformed conductor puts tiny coals in a small oven with a little shovel, passing by minuscule signal lights while the Little Engine That Could spouts little puffs of steam into the air. End the wild journey at the inexpensive snack bar, with an Abbaye de Forest beer for example.
Do not forget to wave at all train passengers passing by.