Tuesday, July 1, 2014

... Koblenz to Mönchengladbach

Time: 13:40
Location: Koblenz and on the train to Mönchengladbach

If I could've stayed on the train to Köln. The scheduled time of arrival in Mönchengladbach would have been 15:20. In stead, I arrived in Koblenz at 13:11 and managed to catch the direct train to Mönchengladbach at 13:18.

The IC-train to Moenchengladbach via Cologne

Time: 15:08
Location: Köln (train has a small delay here)

Really tired at the moment. I haven't eaten anything decent because I did not carry enough cash with me on the train. Half of the items provided on the previous train were not available. A plastic-wrapped croissant was even an option to me, despite it being the least preferable, yet only affordable choice. Maybe the boredom is also contributing to feeling so tired. If only I would have taken a book with me on this trip...
Sicherheitsgurt für Fahrräder

Time: ca 16:00
Location: Mönchengladbach Hauptbahnhof (outside)

I had to wait until 16:20 and - to be honest - I was really tired of waiting. I've decided to cycle from Mönchengladbach to Venlo. This route was not part of my plan and, as often turns out, I've done something unplanned, which eventually backfired in a chain of events. Using google maps, I'll somewhat explain the route to Venlo.

Biking through Europe map
Note: this was the ideal route. I could have made a few minor detours.

After cycling a bit through the city centre of M.Gladbach, I've taken the Bundesstrasse to Viersen and at some point turned left towards Dülken. At what point I've taken a left turn is unclear, as I did not have anything documented. If only I had charged my smart phone and prepared for this route. Anyway, I've passed Dülken, Boisheim, Breyell and Kaldenkirchen on my way to Venlo (34,3 km).

In the Netherlands, I drank a beer and watched the World Cup match between Germany and the United States. After the game, I've decided to cycle towards Maastricht over Roermond. My decision was based on the premise that big cities have affordable hostels.

Sign of Reuver "Tot ziens!" See you later
Time: 21:18
Location: the exact moment I left Reuver

If you make pictures on a cell phone, it is possible to see the time it is created. This is ideal to determine my position and the time at the moment the picture was taken. My phone is still charged a bit, although it indicates it has less than 20 %.
This is a typical dutch cycle path. Notice how perfect the asphalt is. Out of the 4 countries I've cycled extensively already, the Netherlands has the best paths.

Sunset in Holland South-Limburg
Look at this awesome panorama. Really different from Landkreis Viersen (Landkreis = constituency) even though it is only 35 km apart.

Bicycle lanes in the Netherlands
I can almost see the sign.

Remunj sign
Woohoo. Made it.

Time: 21:28
Location: Roermond

I've finally reached Roermond and passed a sign saying 'Maastricht 79'. Being aware of the time (21:28), I knew I would have to peddle another 2,5 h without a taking a break to reach Maastricht. Not only would I be utterly exhausted, it would also be unlikely to still find an affordable room there. That being said, I have decided to take the train from Roermond to Maastricht. I hope I won't have to do this on my actual trip from Eupen to Regensburg.

Remunj Centrum Boukoul Asselt

Signs entering a city where to go

Holland WC Orange

City-centre remunj river stream
The bridge going to the city centre of Remunj (Roermond).

Sign Remunj
Small side note: before reaching the station, I've looked for an affordable room in Roermond. Only expensive hotels and over-priced bed & breakfast could be found in Roermond.

Cycle route map Venlo Reuver Roer mond
Venlo to Roemond (+24,6 km)
58,9 km
Maastrich station hostels hotels
Before getting on the train.

Roermond compartment
On the train to Maastricht. Time: 23:03

Bridge Maastricht hostel the boat at the canal 28,00 euro per night
Time: 23:36 in Maastricht. I was cycling over a bridge on my way to the "Stay Okay". Rooms cost 28,- per night, which is kind of pricey for a hostel but a good price for a single room. Not sure what I would have gotten.

Searching for an ATM at Night Riemst
I went to the hostel and asked if there was a vacant room. "Nope". Some school class was staying over, so the Stay Okay in Maastricht was booked full. The reception bloke recommended another "hostel" nearby and it wasn't really a hostel like you would expect. It wasn't a building, like most hostels are, but actually a shabby boat. Rooms were 35 €/night and it looked like I was going to stay here for the night. I couldn't pay with a normal bankcard here, so I had to look for an ATM nearby.

Entering Belgium Bicycle lane
In stead of taking the obvious choice, I let myself get side-tracked by looking for an ATM to pay for the night. I thought if I'd peddle a bit towards Tongeren, I'd soon find a bank. It was at the same time a long term strategy to start looking for a route to take the next day. The receptionist from the shabby boat assured me he was awake all night, which contributed to the thought that I could have gone a bit further along the road to Belgium without risking my chances on a room.

Municipality passed on my bike route to Tongeren
I have already passed a  a sign with "Tongeren 15", an "now entering Belgium/Flander" sign and a sign of a municipality called 'Riemst'.
 Time: 0:39
Cycling lane along n79 in Limburg Belgium
Tongeren straight ahead. Before going to Tongeren, I've decided to drink a beer first.

Typical bar in Belgium
This is the casual pub you'll see in Belgian villages. All the colours are sort of brownish and the tables are as wobbly as they look. The beer is very good though. It has to be mentioned that drinking Belgian's special beers is an overwhelming experience for those unfamiliar with strong beers. I drank a normal 'pintje' though (=lager).

Pub or bar nearby Tongeren
Cafe Reynaert in Riemst I think.

Limburgian? Limburger? Limburguese? town
Millen (Riemst)

Millen in Riemst in Limburg in Flandern - and as part of the Dutch language community - in Belgium
 Time: 1:10
Limburgish Limburgian
 Time 1:18
Sign Limburg biking
Reached Tongeren at: 1:38.

Flanders, Wallonia, Germany, German Language Community
Last city that I'll reach today. Really tired at the moment. Arrived at 1:38, cycled 77,6 km (18,7 km + 58,9 km). Crossed 3 different borders. Now only boredom awaits.

Time: 1:38
Down hill entering the city on a bike
Entering Tongeren. You'll enter the city going downhill super fast.

Bike on train to Bruxelles Brussels
This is really a bummer. Time: 1:43
I actually took the train 20 minutes earlier than the one displayed here. The train at 5:30 went to Brussel, where I could transfer.

Affordable hotel in tonger appartment pension rooms
I did not bother to look for a hotel or hostel. It was not really worth it anymore. To pass time, I cycled a bit through the city.
Nothing really going on anywhere besides on the Grand Square (Grote Markt), where a handful of pubs were open for the whole night. Here a picture of the church in Tongeren, the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwebasiliek (German: Liebfrauenbasilika).

Probably a Gallic warrior that has some connection to Tongeren
Some kind of super hero with a special kind of axe. No idea actually.

Belgian Pint in Tongeren pub bar
Photo of another beer in a pub in Tongeren. I sat at a table, ordered a beer and charged my cell phone. At some point I finally succumbed to my need to sleep and, after what seemed like mere seconds, the bartender wakes me up. She has a mad expression and stares at me with contempt, as if I were a light-weight and a dishonor to her pub. Her stare seemed to indicate that it was time for me to go home. I drank another beer and left this pub.

Women website
For details regarding this statue, you can browse the Tongeren website. There are so many statues in Belgium, that I just do not care. If you do take an interest in statues, feel free to use google. Good luck!

Looks like the super hero statue
Tongeren flag.

Backpack station to Brussel and Antwerp
Sitting on a bench at the train station. This is incredibly boring, trust me. For my actual trip from Eupen to Regensburg, I have to take into account, based on what I've learned today, that not all cities have low budget hostels. Only in the bigger cities, you have a chance of finding something affordable. Next trip I'll plan hostels beforehand (hindsight note: I didn't do it).

Bike in Station in Limburg
Time: 4:54
Train will come in 20 minutes. I got on the train and slept until the conductor woke me up in Brussel.
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