After arriving on the old continent and having a short break, I continued together with Femke towards south. First across the Netherlands and Belgium, later through Germany and Luxembourg and finally through France back to Switzerland. That’s it. At least for the moment.
Leiden NL: Break and arrival in Europe
After a long time outside of Europe, I enjoyed a slow arrival and that I didn’t have to start cycling immediately. This thanks to the hospitality of Femke. It also gave me the possibility to learn to know the Netherlands a bit better, even if I only saw a very small part of course It included the beach and the capital Den Haag. And I was very impressed by the cycling infrastructure. Many countries could learn here about how to build cycle paths.
Leiden NL – Maastricht NL
Femke and I finally started cycling again in Leiden, which is situated between Amsterdam and Den Haag. We followed the well marked cycle paths towards south. The Netherlands are crisscrossed by water ways. And that meant for us to use ferries once in a while. Beautiful for me the ferry lover. We continued from Gorinchem to Veldhoven before entering Belgium for the first time.
They also have marked cycle paths there but they are not as reliable. One time the path suddenly ended in front of a locked company gate and we had to search for a way out through the fields. Shortly after the cycle path was interrupted by a big construction site. A detour was marked but it pointed in the direction where we were just coming from. As others too, we had to carry our heavy bikes across… Somehow I wasn’t that surprised after working for several years with Belgium companies ;-).
Towards the evening, we finally reached Dutch territory again and continued till Maastricht where we found the right accommodation: Botel. As the name suggests a motel on the water. The right thing in a country which is situated mainly below sea level. And it was surprisingly cheap for its central location. We enjoyed the city that much that we decided to stay for two nights.
Maastricht NL – Medendorf B – Dasburg D
Finally we had to continue and drove back to Belgium. We had to search for the path but found it after a while. And after another very long detour, we finally made it to Roetgen in Germany, where we stayed for a night. Three countries in one day. So far we were lucky with the weather but heavy rain started during the night and kept going in the morning. Therefor we weren’t really in a rush and first enjoyed brunch in a nearby restaurant. Neverthless we got already pretty wet on the short ride to there. At the end we didn’t have a choice and started cycling through the rain. Unfortunately also my cycle computer stopped working that day, which wasn’t that nice that close to the end of this journey. On the other side it did its job for a good part of it. And luckily Femke had another one.
We continued through the rain back to Belgium and hit, surprisingly for us, a new and beautiful cycle path: Vennbahn. Though it was still in construction and partly muddy, it was nice to cycle. It was raining more or less the whole day but that way the fries shortly before our destination tasted even better. Also if they weren’t typical Belgium ones.
We dried our wet clothes in a B&B in Medendorf and continued the next morning. Petrus was nice and pushed the rain clothes away. It even got sunny again and we could dry our tent during lunch break. The path mostly followed the Our river but partly went up to the plateau. The climbs were almost as steep as in New Zealand. We finally drove back down into the valley to Dasburg and spent our last night in Germany on a campground.
Dasburg D – Echternach LU – Metz F
We crossed the river the next morning and made it to Luxembourg. I think I have never been in this country; at least not by bicycle. We continued along the river. It should have been a pretty easy day but because that wasn’t possible, they put up a detour which sent us back up on the plateau. At least we wouldn’t get too lazy that way. It was pretty steep but was followed later by a fast and nice descent to the village of Vianden. It was that fast that I almost missed to stop at a viewpoint to see the castle of Vianden. Luckily only almost. After a lunch break in this very beautiful and also very touristy place, we continued along the river to Echternach. We enjoyed this easy cycling so much, that we kept going that way the next morning. After the city of Schengen, we had to say goodbye to Luxembourg and to welcome France. We continued till the next village and spent our first night in France on a campground where we had to learn: There is no toilet paper on French campgrounds. But sometimes you can buy some.
We continued along the river river Moselle towards Metz. It was Sunday and we met surprisingly a lot of cyclists. We passed the nuclear power plant of Cattenom and some old industrial buildings before arriving in Metz. And we were positively surprised by its old buildings and also the beautiful cathedral.
Metz F – Basel CH
We had some difficulties to find our way out of the city the next morning but finally made it. Summer had arrived in the mean time and it got pretty hot. However, we didn’t want to complain after it finally made it to central Europe. After a night next to a holiday lake in Francaltroff, we continued along various channels, which was very easy cycling. That way we made it into the Alsace with its many vineyards. It would have been nice to stop and try some of the wines. However, we thought that the combination of alcohol, heat and cycling wouldn’t be the best. Therefor, the wine had to wait till the evening :-).
Finally the last day of cycling for Femke and the last day outside of Switzerland for me arrived. Thanks to some tail wind, it was a pretty easy cycling day even if it were around 90km. We procrastinated a bit by having an ice cream in Saint-Louis but finally I was back in Switzerland after almost 18 months.
Basel CH – Luzern CH
I enjoyed to show the city of Basel to Femke, even if I didn’t know it that well. Finally we had to say goodbye, which wasn’t that easy after having a great time. Thank you! Femke continued by train to Como for attending a wedding and I continued by bicycle. The last 120km were waiting. Her train passed the city of Lucerne which would be my final destination.
I followed the North-South-Route (Route 3) of SwitzerlandMobility. It wasn’t be the shortest route but definitively nicer than following the main roads. I probably could have cycled it in a day but I didn’t want to hurry. The challenge were the Jura hills but I survived worse things before. After climbing over I spent the night in my tent at a farm close to the city of Aarau.
I continued the next morning and couldn’t really believe it: This would be my last cycling day of this journey. I knew that this day would come/had to come at one point. But it was still pretty special when it finally arrived. I was looking forward to seeing family and friends again but was also missing cycle traveling before it even ended…
The cycle path lead me through the city of Aarau and the farming dominated country side afterwards. I finally made it to the city of Sursee, where I would meet my family again. However, I was too early and therefor first had lunch. But when we finally met, there was a lot of happiness on both sides. After a welcome drink and some snacks, we continued towards Lucerne. It was nice to be accompanied by them on the bicycle. After around 30km, we were finally back there, where everything started almost exactly 16’000km ago. Pretty overwhelming!
That’s it. At least for this journey. It was a wonderful time and I can only recommend it to everybody. Best by bicycle. A big thank you goes to all of you for reading, accompanying, motivating and supporting me during this time!
I’m trying at the moment to really arrive here. Physically I’m back. Mentally not yet completely… A conclusion entry will probably follow later. But first I wish you some nice summer or winter days.
All the best from Switzerland,
PS: Pictures can be found in the Gallery. A special thank you goes to Femke for her pictures. The pictures where I’m in are from her :-).