Vrienden Op De Fiets comes through again!

After another fabulous ride from Roetgen to Butgenbach we find our way to our accomodation…the last 200 metres up a very steep hill!  However, once we made it here we are thrilled with the views!  Our hosts are the most congenial and helpful couple…both born in Netherlands and part of the VDOF network.  Our suite is large and comfortable with a small fridge, tea and coffee, internet, and a lovely garden.  Last night we had dinner out side in the garden…

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We decided we will stay here for a couple of nights and just do Day rides without all our heavy panniers!

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The view from our window this morning.

There are so many trails from here you can go in 4 directions and all on old rail beds!  Today we rode to Malmedy, famous from WWII for the Battle of the Bulge…lots of memorials for fallen soldiers!  It was another gorgeous day…

 

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Trains!#~<|!?+*!!!

Yes, well here we go for my rant on the trains.  Yes, they can save your butt, but they can also be a pain!  So, to get from the Maas River to Aachen, Germany, where our favourite bike trail, the Vennbahn begins, you must either ride up and down many hills on busy roads or…take the train.  Two years ago we stayed in Maastricht and went from there to Aachen direct with a stop in Heerlen.  No problem!  This time we wanted to avoid the city and so rode to a small town just outside of Maastricht (Meerssen) where we got on a train bound for Heerlen where we knew we would have to change to get to Aachen.  What we didn’t know was that we would have to change trains 2 more times to get to our destination…..pffffff!  3 1/2 hours later and many elevator rides up and down (you can only fit 1 bike per elevator car) to the right platform and only with the help of a young university student and her smart phone did we finally get to the  Vennbahn!   We probably could have cycled the route faster, even with all the hills!

Well by now it was 5 pm and we still had 30 kms to go to our pension in Roetgen!  The ride was as beautiful as we remembered it to be!  We made it at sunset and were offered a cold German beer immediately upon arrival…very much appreciated!!

The end of a somewhat stressful day but looking forward to some lovely riding tomorrow.

 

The Maas river valley

The Maas River valley is a series of of canals along side the river and sometimes is the border between Netherlands and Belgium and is also known as the Limburg area to both countries.  As the saying in Belgium is it is a Fietsers Paradijs!  Here are a few more pics of some of the hi-lites…

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The town of Maaseik had a very pretty tree-lined central market square where we stopped to enjoy an an afternoon treat and listen to a tune on the bells of city hall…

Brummen to Huissen to Afferden to Roermond to Dilsen-Stokkem (Belgium)

Saturday, Sept 16 to Tuesday, Sept 19

 

Time to carry on south…so we head back to the LF3 in a light mist.  The weather improves as the day progresses and we again riding along dike tops from where we can see for miles in any direction.  Lots and lots of hawks hovering over the fields.  The riding is easy…no chance to get lost as we just follow the Ijsell River.

We arrive at our destination in Huissen, not too far off the trail and again  are greeted by a welcoming host from the VDOF.  What a cute little suite with in floor heating!!!!  We are invited in to meet the family who all speak English very fluently.  One of the daughters is studying Biology at Wageningen University and Research Centre and we had a very interesting discussion about the article on food production in Holland!

You might wonder how we spend our evenings.  Well when I am not writing my blog, we are usually planning and researching our next days’ route….how far do we want to ride, what will the weather be like, accomodation?  We also spend time reading other cyclists blogs to see their opinion of the trails we are considering….are they muddy, dusty, hilly?  Once decided then we book the accomodation.  I have found another good site called bedandbreakfast.eu  which we have now used a few times.

In Afferden, our B&B host was building an observatory in his backyard!!! And thanks to his wife Angelica for giving us some tips on getting to Roermond on the back roads.

Last night we had a huge brand new house on the outskirts of Roermond all to ourselves!  There was a pellet stove in the living room and a bathtub in the ensuite bathroom….pure luxury!!!

We have been travelling very close to the German border and at time crossing into Germany and have passed quite a few Memorials for soldiers from WWII.

IMG_4981… there have also been a few more ferry crossings

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Today we crossed over the Maas River into Belgium and had a very quiet ride…no traffic, very few people and sunshine!! !

Veluwezoom National Park

Today we decided to stay for another night in this very nice B&B which we found through our membership in Vrienden Op De Fiets.  We have our own little cottage in the garden with a small kitchen, huge shower and large comfy bed.  After breakfast (included in the price of 38€/night) we hopped on our bikes, baggage-free, and went for a sunny ride through Veluwezoom National Park which we learned is hilly and has the highest point in the Netherlands.  No canals here…just a beautiful mixed forest of very large oaks, beeches, pines, firs, elms.  We rode to the top where it changes to fields of low brush and purple blooming heather on smooth paved trails with no traffic except other bikers and a few hikers.  There are also dedicated horse trails and hiking trails off the pavement.

 

The ride down was awesome, fast and fun.  We stopped at a ‘Theehuis’ (Teahouse) for a koffie and carried on through a hailstorm(!).  Then the sun came out again and by the time we got back to our little cottage we were dry!

Resting after our full day, I came across a very appropriate and interesting article about agriculture in Holland…

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/09/holland-agriculture-sustainable-farming/

We actually passed some of the huge greenhouse operations in our travels and wondered about them…now our questions have been answered!

The Ijsell River

Another windy day…with gorgeous sunshine, so far.   We departed our accomodation, another interesting experience.  It was a lovely bungalow in the forest that was completely built to be accessible for wheelchairs.  All the doors opened by easily sliding them sideways, the kitchen counter and bathroom sinks were low, faucets all levers, a huge shower you could ride a scooter into if you wanted to!  The whole resort was targeted to people with mobility issues…opportunities to book massage treatments, physical therapy and even hydrotherapy in the pool.   But we carried on, this time heading south and east to the Ijssel River.   What a lovely river valley and we were now on the LF 3 (national cycling route) which was quiet and smooth new pavement for much of the way.

Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated as the day progressed.  We made it to Deventer which was about halfway along our route…

And then it started to rain…lightly at first but by the time we got to Zutphen, it was pretty steady….just 5 more kms to get to our B&B in Brummen, by which time we were really wet and cold.

Time for a hot shower and a steaming cup of tea!