A short tour to Koblenz

Friday, 29-05-2009
Maastricht to Aywaile 76kms

We started from home at about 8:45 after taking the traditional pictures in front of the house. The day was great no clouds and warm. We rode south following the Maas river and canal, at Liege we turned off to follow the Ourthe river and after a while we turned to follow the Ambleve river to Aywaile.
The day was great with very good cycling paths, but when we turned off to follow the Ambleve river we were forced on the national road N633 which had a bit of traffic.
The scenery is great around here high steep hills totally immersed in green which made the whole ride very pleasant.
We kept it short today because our fitness level is very low and we really are not in shape so out of fear of having a rest day tomorrow we stopped early. I’m sure if we were a bit more fit we would have cycled another 20kms or so.
No plans for tomorrow we just head in the general direction of Trier, Germany trying to keep to the smallest roads.
This camping is ok right next to the river and cheap at €9 but €1.25 for the showers we thought was a bit expensive. We never thought Jupiler beer would taste so good 😉

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Ready to leave on a beautiful Friday morning.

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Heading south direction Eijsden, NL.

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After about 25kms following the river Maas we found the junction of the river Orthe in the city of Liege, Belgium.

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Along the way we saw this sight.

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And after asking the guys we found out the nude person was about to get married and swimming across the Orthe nude was some sort of ritual 🙂

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A little further on we stopped for lunch.

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Most of the day we were treated great views. Click to view larger.

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Camping in Aywaile next to the river Ambleve (behind the huge bush on the left).

Saturday 30/05/09
Aywaile to St. Vith – 60kms total 137kms

After our morning ritual we got on the road at 09:00. The road was very scenic all the way to Stoumont with only one very long climb just before the village. We continued on the N633 to Trois Ponts where the views were really nice from this height but the traffic was getting really bad now with all the tourists waking up.
At Trois Ponts we turned on the very busy N68 to Stavelot were we stopped for lunch and watching this bicycle tour going on with several thousand participants.
This town had a nice memorial and an American half track on display. There must have been huge battles all around here in WWII.
From Stavelot we took the rural N660 which started with a +12% climb heading for Francheville than Recht were we found a route going through some woods (our third hill of the day) so we could get on the N675 heading to St. Vith.
Just before we got out of the woods we rode by this couple were the girl had her shirt off and was on her knees in front of her friend lol, she got so embarrassed her face turned tomato red before running behind a tree holding her face, while her friend fell to his knees laughing, what a scene, we told them to have fun and enjoy the day lol.
At St. Vith we stopped for a beer and found the camping were we had a very luxurious shower cleaned our clothes and cooked some noodles for dinner.
This day was good, we really enjoyed the ride, but the hills wore us out, it was the first time we did (3) hills in one day fully loaded and out of shape.

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Breaking camp.

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A great view point just before the village of Stoumont.

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A panorama from the same view point. Click to view larger.

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And a close up.

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The great views continued after the village of Stoumont. Click to view larger.

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Chateau de Froidcour along the N633 after Stoumont.

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http://www.chateaudefroidcour.com/

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An American WWII half track on display in the village of Stavelot.

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Probably just a weed but we thought this flower very pretty.

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The N660 reassembled an alpine road at times.

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Camping in St.Vith, Belgium.

Sunday, 31-05-2009
St. Vith to Echternach – 89kms total 226kms

Got on the N646 road around nine(ish) heading SE, and had our first small hill to climb. A few kms down the road  came the real climb and it was tough, seeing how out of shape we were in, we had to struggle a bit. Upon reaching this plateau we just followed the signs for Dasburg, now we’ve ridden this route before heading in the opposite direction. The only difference is that this time the weather was perfect, sunny, not too hot and a tail wind, we could not ask for a better day.
At Dasburg we stopped at a gas station for some supplies and had a couple of our favorite beers, ice cold Bitburger half liters ;-).
But as good as they were, they had a bad effect on our legs and for the next several kilometers we really struggled.
We continued (downriver this time) along the Our river south to Vianden.
A few kilometers after Vianden we stopped for tea and started to worry as some large dark clouds were coming up and we saw in the distance heavy showers. At Wallendorf we turned on to the Sauer river and headed downriver to Echternach. Before we could reach Echternach it did rain a bit but stopped after a few minutes.
We really wished all our days could be like this, we managed the hills quite good even with our shape.
At camp we met Riva, a student who is hiking from the Hook of Holland to Nice. He showed us a book which showed a hiking path that goes all the way to Nice, France.
Our hat off to this guy, that is one long hike. He also told us that we were lucky as a couple of hours earlier the sky’s had opened up and they had a real heavy downpour.
The camping here is still as good as it was in 2005 were I first stopped here on my way to Greece.

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View from the N646 atop the first climb. Click to view larger.

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Remnants of a terrible time.

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Built by the German army using slave labor.

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There were signs of this terrible time all over this area.

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View from the L1 after Lutzkampen, Germany. Click to view larger.

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Looking west from the L1. Dasburg, Germany is below the hill left of picture. Click to view larger.

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Spot the Santiago de Compostela (shell) sign.

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Clos up, apparently this is one of many comino routes.

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Along the river Our before Vianden.

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The village of Bivels on the Our, taken from the N10 before Vianden.

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Having tea with a view 2009.

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Having tea with a view in 2006. Notice we’re still using the AGU panniers.

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Once on the Saure river between Luxembourg and Germany, we began to see many of these memorial plaques.

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Many battles were fought here when the Allied forces were trying to cross the Saure into Germany.

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Looking at the wooded hills filled with enemy solders along the river Saure it must have been hell trying to cross.

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The brave hiker we met in camping Echernach.

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Our setup in Echternach, almost on the same place as my first tour in 2005.

Monday, 01-06-09
Echternach to Trier – 30kms total 256kms

We had a slow start today. Yesterdays hills we were a bit much for us and this morning we felt it. We finally managed to get on the road by 10 and rode into the center of town for coffee/sweet rolls and a couple huge sandwiches.
We than got on the Saure river and followed it out of town. The ride today was quiet and peaceful on the almost perfect cycling paths. also the scenery was great
The weather was just right, warm not too hot and we had a great day cycling along dedicated cycling paths all the way to Trier.
Upon arrival in the camping we first did some chores and than checked out the town and found it ok at best. It just seemed another tourist trap to say the truth, expensive and lacking.
The plan was to stay for a rest day but we will be moving on tomorrow in search of a better camping.
This place is ok but its just another city camping very noisy and a car dump just behind, when the wind blew right we could smell old motor oil and the rest.
Seeing how this place is we are beginning to reconsider our long tour of cities next spring, maybe avoid a couple.

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Just before we left Echternach I found an issue with my handlebar so we stopped for some quick repairs.

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Another camping along the Saure after Echternach.

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Looking back.

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Between Achternach and Wasserbilling.

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Between Achternach and Wasserbilling.

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The A1/E44 high above the Saure.

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Map showing the Soure river between Echternach and Wasserbillig.

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The Junction of the Saure and Mossel rivers.

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Heading east along the Mosel right after Wasserbilling.

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Our camp near Trier.

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St. George monument, city center Trier.

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Porta Nigra (Black Gate), city center Trier.

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St. Peters Cathedral, Trier, Germany.

Tuesday 02-06-09
Trier to Traben-Trarbach – 99kms total 355kms

We slowly got underway at about 0:009. The whole day we just followed the very nice cycling paths between vine covered hill sides, but to tell the truth after about a few hours it began to get old.
It was beautiful to cycle through but its all the same around every turn. By contrast, riding through these picturesque villages is a real treat, nice and quiet with each one having its own wine house.
We noticed there are quite a few caravan parks along this part of the river but very few proper camping’s, we had a rough time finding this camping place in Traven-Trarbach.
Later in the evening we met these two German girls from Aachen,  Andrea and Jasmine we had a nice chat and a couple of beers with them.
Strange shower setup at this camping, first you give €20 for the card (which you get back once you return it), than you pay another €10 to add 40 minutes worth of shower on the card (you get back what you don’t use), once in the shower you pass this card over this metal box (each pass adds 2 min.) and you get hot water. Sounds a bit complex but it worked great as you can stay under a bit longer.

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St. Mary’s column outside of Trier.

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A few kilometers past Trier we came across this movie set on the cycling path.

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Further on we passed a small circus with elephants.

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Also with giraffes and camels.

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Every once in a while the cycling path crossed the Mosel.

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Very picturesque villages. Click to view larger.

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Everywhere was covered with grape vines. Click to view larger.

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Some sections were really beautiful to cycle along.

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And we really enjoyed cycling through the many villages.

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Monument showing how they transported wine in the old days.

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There were many private distilleries in every village.

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And every village had it’s informative boards.

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And lovely summer flowers.

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While passing this one village we got a strong smell of barbecue so we sat down on a beautiful terrace and ordered a couple of beers.

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And a couple of proper German sausages. Life is good sometimes 🙂

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This area is so geared up for tourism that you could even hire a plane to check out the whole area.

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And lets not forget the every present castle around every bend.

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On a closer view it seems a wast not to turn every castle into a hotel or restaurant.

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The two German girls Jasmine and Andrea, we met at the camping.

Wednesday,  03-06-09
Traben-Trarbach to Treis-Karden – 79kms total 433kms

Woke up a bit late today we thought about staying here another day but by 09:00 we decided to leave and try to find a better camping.
We said goodbye to Jasmine and Andrea and left. They were still fighting to put together their stuff, its their first tour so it is understandable they aren’t as well organized. They had just as much gear as us but no front panniers. We couldn’t imagine how unstable their bikes were.
It was another day along the river which now is getting boring, more vineyards on the sides of extremely steep hills.
We tried for the town of Cochem for the three star camping but found it lacking so we continued on for another 10kms to the five star camping at Treis-Karden.
Just out of Cochem we met again the two German girls and rode with them for a while but they were heading for another camping and we split up after about 5kms.
The camping at Treis-Karden is pretty good so we intend to have a rest day here tomorrow, we are still very sore for riding 6 days straight without rest and not having any fitness before this tour.
It was really a choice of a bad camping in a touristy town of Cochem or a great camping in a dead town of Treis-Karden.
For a rest day I think we chose right.

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A bit overcast day.

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We had to cross the Mosel several times today.

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Mom and kids checking out the tourists.

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More ruins along Mosel.

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Close up of the ruins with the steep hillside vineyards in the background.

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Which they use special motorized contraptions to carry people and grapes.

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Nearing Cochem.

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With its spectacular castle above.

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View from Cochem. Click to view larger.

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Picturesque Cochem.

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One last look at this beautiful castle.

Friday, 05-06-09
Rest day

When we finally got out of our sleeping bags we walked to the center of town and found nothing, this place is small but it also means its quiet.
Today we just ate, drank and just relaxed for the day.
The original plan for the coming days was to make our way to Koblenz than follow the Rhine back towards home.
But, after checking the weather forecast online we saw that there was this nasty weather front moving in, bringing several days of heavy rain and low temperatures.
Well it didn’t take long to change our plans, tomorrow being Saturday we would ride to Koblenz check out the city and on Sunday take the train to Aachen, Germany and ride the last 35kms to Maastricht.

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Our camping spot in Treis – Karden.

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I chose a roasted pigs leg and Monique chose a roasted chicken.

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And once our neighbor saw what Monique was tearing into…

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she called her young ones and got the hell out 🙂

Saturday, 06-06-09
Return home

Woke up this morning to a steady drizzle. The weather forecast was for rain on Sunday but unfortunately it has come a day earlier.
At first it was drizzling, and we thought we could still ride into Koblenz if it stopped but by the time we washed up the drizzle became a deluge and we just packed everything up and headed to the nearest train station for the 40 odd kilometers to Koblenz.
The weather had been very nice till now and we did not want to cycle in the rain for the last 4 days and forget the very nice experience we have had so far.
The German trains are great, totally set up for the cyclist and also reasonably priced it was a pleasant experience to ride on. In Koblenz train station we purchased tickets to Achen, Germany. And a kind lady at the ticket counter suggested we purchase a weekend pass for €20 which was cheaper than normal fare and the bikes were €4.50 each, now that is service.
From Aachen we rode in a steady drizzle back to Maastricht.

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The very efficient German trains.

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Rest stop under a tree near Gulpen, NL.

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The drizzle was getting to be a pain.

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As always the drizzle stopped once we got home.

It had been a fantastic mini tour and a great escape for both of us, if a little short. It was also nice to revisit some places we rode through before.
We really enjoyed this tour and highly recommend this area for cycling.