Day 4 and 5 – The Big Surprise!

Our friends from Netherlands, Simone and Jaap, drove all the way from Hilversham, to cycle with us today!!!  How much fun!  They had done the same trip last spring with our dear friend Norm from Rossland, and enjoyed it so much, they wanted to do at least part of it again.

We load our panniers and off we go…first stop, Munschau.  After a very steep downhill ride (300 meters elevation) following a burbling brook and riding my squeaky brakes, we arrive in a beautiful fairy tale town with the River Rur running through.

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“First mentioned in 1198, Montjoie (Munschau) developed around its castle (built in the 13th century). From 1433, the castle became the seat of the Dukes of Jülich.  The town is located in the hills of the North Eifel, within the Hohes Venn – Eifel Nature Park in the narrow valley of the Rur river.  The historic town center has many preserved half-timbered houses and narrow streets have remained nearly unchanged for 300 years, making the town a popular tourist attraction nowadays. An open-air, classical music festival is staged annually at Burg Monschau. Historically, the main industry of the town was cloth-mills.”  (Wikipedia)

Fortunately, we found the tourist office (and it was open) where a very helpful staff who spoke perfect English gave us directions out of the town so that we did not have to climb the steep hill back out of the valley again, but rather we followed the river along a lovely path no steeper than any rail grade (2%?).  And I won’t forget to mention that our wonderful friends took care of my panniers for me and I was freed of at least 20 kg which made the ride so enjoyable!!! And I was able to keep up with them!

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We cycled the “High Fen” in the Eifel Region….the trail crosses the border back and forth between Belgium and Germany.   We found another rail trail that took us to Butgenbach (Belgium) (about 4km) where there was a lovely lake with a campground.  We went into the town to search for a hotel or pension….not much, so back down the hill Simone found  the Seehof Hotel….hmmm, what can I say, except very old German style, funky decor and a cranky owner!  The beers were warm!!!!! Yuk!  We practically ran up the hill back into town for some COLD beers and then dinner at an authentic Italian Restaurant for a really great dinner and lots of laughs.

After breakfast, we hi-tailed it out of there with the cranky owner practically chasing us out…well her dog did!   Then it was back on the trail soaking up the sunshine and good vibes.  We passed by a campsite (just outside of Waimes) that after much discussion, including a bet between Jaap and Simone, it was discovered that they certainly had camped there last spring!  And now it is a Syrian refugee camp!  Seriously!  Next stop was St.Vith for coffee and snacks and a few grocery items from an interesting general store….clothes, veggies, cheese, meat????  Oh yes, and a stop at the tourist office to find out directions to our hotel which was well off the bike trail and somewhere along the highway!  A bit of a scary ride later, we found the place and settled in to our very cool Apartment with an incredible view of the hills of the Eiffel in a place called Grufflingen.

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The balcony was warm and sunny and perfect to sit with some cold beers!

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