Up early on a clear crisp day for another walk around the town, enjoying the sights and sounds of Market Day! Then a delicious breakfast buffet at the Hotel ( yum, another croissant!). Then packing up our gear onto the bikes and off to the train station to do it all again! This time from Maastricht to Aachen, Germany. This time around, getting on the train was much easier, as it was more like a subway as the platform was even with the train (no step) so we were able to wheel ourselves straight in and there were very few people.
We arrived in Aachen Rothe-Erde Station, wheeled off the train and onto the street and there was the signpost for the Vennbahn Cycle Trail! Yeah! Off we go! Absolutely gorgeous with a tailwind for most of the first 27 km….
There is not much left to remind one of the quantities of freight that once rolled up and down the Fen-Rail between Aachen and the north of the Grand Duchy. A handful of deserted station buildings, as in Raeren, Walheim or Sourbrodt, the occasional rusting wagon, coach or locomotive, a few signals, frozen in time … these silent witnesses are all that remain of a glorious past. Some of the former stations house exhibits and relics that give insights into the history and lore of the Fen-Rail. The era in which the Fen-Rail was the pulsing artery of industrial development and trade between the coal fields of Aachen and the smelters of Lorraine and Luxembourg is long past. This turbulent history began under Prussian rule, when Kaiser Wilhelm I. laid the cornerstone for the start of construction in 1882. By 1889 the Fen-Rail line between Aachen-Rothe-Erde and Ulflingen (today’s Troisvierges) could begin to carry traffic. The Fen-Rail was a successful operation well into the 1920s, gradually losing importance as its incapacity for higher speed travel became a disadvantage and customs regulations between Germany and Belgium began to negatively affect trade. Nevertheless, the last goods trains still rolled on into the 1980s, until the line was converted as a tourist attraction in the 1990s.
The town of Roetgen was really nothing special, but the cycling through the gorgeous countryside was fabulous! We had our first German dinner of Schnitzel and a salad bar!