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Cycling in Ardennes – 150km in one day


The things that make us happy are different for everyone. Some people enjoy lazy weekends at home, others prefer to go out and have a drink with friends. I belong to the category of crazy people who need adventures. It is something that forces me every time to wake up at 4am, take my bicycle and go to the road. This Sunday wasn’t an exception.

In the North of our country, Luxembourg, we have the Ardennes mountain range. It’s a very picturesque region with plenty of bike routes. The most famous one, Vennbahn, connects a small Luxembourgish town Troisvierges with the city of Aachen in Germany. That day my plan was to follow the Vennbahn until St Vith in Belgium, then turn South-East towards Prum in Germany, and continue to Wasserbillig, a town at the border between Germany in Luxembourg.

I arrived in Troisvierges at the dawn. Looking at frozen grass, I realised that the weather forecast that I checked yesterday was for Luxembourg city, and here, at the beginning of the mountain range, the temperature is lower. I put on all the clothes that I had with me, and got on my bike.
The Vennbahn starts near the train station, following the ancient railway towards Wilwerdange, a small Luxembourgish village at the border with Belgium. The first surprise was waiting me right at the border: the asphalt road turned into a trail covered with a layer of little stones. Oh no!!! I cannot ride here my road bike with thin tires!!! I had to get off and continue walking. From time to time it was possible to ride, but very slowly and carefully. Eventually, it took me 3h to get to St Vith, which was only 30km from the starting point.

St Vith is a small provincial town in German speaking community of Belgium. On Sundays there is absolutely nothing - everything is closed, no people on the streets. Sitting in the only open cafe with a cup of coffee, trying to warm up and looking at the maps, I realised that I forgot to check the distance from St Vith to Wasserbillig. My guesstimation was some 120km. The region of Eifel in Germany that I was going to cross is pretty hilly, but the bike path seemed to follow a river, so 10h30 until dusk should be enough.

As I was not sure that I’ll make it in time, I decided to skip Prum and went directly to Waxweiler, a small German town on the way to Luxembourg. I arrived there by 14h. Finally, it became warm and sunny. Waxveiler looked more lively to compare with St Vith. I found an open Kebab, and after a quick lunch I continued the ride.

How many times I promised myself never follow signposting in Germany? I relied on it again, and it led me to the highest point of the area. Again, I had to walk with my bike – the climb was too steep for riding. I’ve lost one hour. Staying on the top of the hill and looking at my watches, I realised that now I am against clock. It was 15h, and I still needed to ride about 80km. If I want to get to Luxembourg today, I have to speed up.

Likely, soon the road went down, and I was able to ride 40km/h. When after one of the hills I finally saw a valley, I was unbelievably happy. For the next 15 min) I continued following the signposting. The road for cars was pretty flat, but for some reason the bike path went through all the hills around. Again, walking up with my bike through forests, fields, and steep streets of small villages.

18h30, Prumzurlay. 20km till the border with Luxembourg, unknown distance to my train station, and 2h until sunset. Here I encountered the next challenge. The bike path led me to a road with many cars passing very close to me. I pedalled as fast as I could to pass this part of the route as soon as possible.

19h, Irrel. Almost at the border with Luxembourg. 1h30 until sunset and still unknown distance to the train station. In the centre of the town I spotted a street faire. Call me crazy, but I spend some time choosing a scarf, and eventually bought one)

When I finally arrived at the German-Luxembourgish border, my bike computer displayed 130 km. I crossed a bridge over the Sauer river, a natural border between the two countries, and continued to Wasserbillig following the river on Luxembourgish side. The train station was in 20km – I knew that from my previous adventures. The last hour of the ride was a race. The sun was going down very fast. Besides, there was another unexpected problem – insects. Near the water there were so many of them, that every time I needed to breathe in, I had to close my nose with hand. My eyes were protected with sun glasses, but if I would not get to the station before dusk, I’d have to take them off and walk.

I arrived at the train station Wasserbillig exactly at the sunset. My bike computer pleased me with 150km on its display. Total time of the ride – more than 10h. Not bad) It’s time to go home and drink tea.

Dancing forest in Kaliningrad, Russia

Once, after a quarrel at home, I bought the cheapest airplane ticket from Moscow, took my backpack and went to Kaliningrad for several days.

I didn't have any particular plans for sightseeing, but one place attracted my attention - the Dancing Forest. It is a natural anomaly - the trees in a small part of forest are growing in weired forms. I had nothing to do, so I decided to go and see it.

The dancing forest is located in a very interesting place - in the middle of a 100km long stripe of land between a bay and the Baltic sea, almost at the border with Lithuania (see the map). Getting there is extremally difficult. First, you need to get to a small town Zelenogradsk, which is located at the beginning of the sandspit. From there, you need to go 40km further, to the middle of the sandspit. There are only 3 buses per day, so if you miss the bus back, you're stuck there)

In the morning, I took one of the first buses from Kaliningrad to arrive in Zelenograndsk around 10am. In winter it gets dark very early, so I had to plan time well (not to get lost in a forest at night like last time in Norway). Almost directly I found another bus going to the sandspit (it wasn't indicated in the schedule, but who cares?).

The trip took about 40 min. At the beginning of the sandspit a guard stopped our bus. Here the national park begins, and the territory is protected by Russian state. Which, basically, means that no hunting is allowed, and there should be lots of wild animals.
The sandspit is almost empty - we passed only 2-3 villages on the way. People leave the area - the only way they can make their living here is fishing, but some time ago Lithuanian state decided to partially block access of fresh sea water to the bay, and fish on the Russian side has become too thin. "There used to be so many kids, and now they had to close the kindergarden", - complained one of the passangers.

Finally, the driver stopped the bus in the middle of nowhere and explained me where to find the place I was looking for.
I walked several hundred meters inside the forest, hoping to see other people, but no one was there. Only info stands telling the history of the dancing forest and rules to be followed in order to protect it. I walked further, and saw it. The trees, twisted in all possible forms.
And here, I finally reallised what happened. I am staying alone in the middle of a forest with wild animals, and there are no people for several km around. Great.

I came back to the main road. According to the schedule, the next bus was supposed to come in 20min. It never arrived - niether in 20min, nor in 1h. I started hitch-hiking. Likely, the road wasn't completely dead, and after a while I stopped a car. A local fisher brought me back to the centre of Zelenogradsk. On the way he told me some stories from local life.

- Are there many wild pigs in this area? - I asked the question I was thinking about during the last hour.
- Countless.

Before going back to Kaliningrad city, I went to see the Baltic sea. There was a storm, and when I was staying at a pier, a wave hit it and I've got wet, likely, only from one side.
Wet, but happy, I walked to the bus station.
Hi everyone! Today I'd like to share a story that happened to me recently (mid November 2015). I often hear that non-EUs should have less rights than EU citizens, but how far can it go? IMHO, what happened to me is already too much...
For MAE: don't take it wrong, I don't want any conflicts with you. We have a serious problem, and we need to find a solution. For the latter, please, see the end of this article.

What happend? In short, I'm non-EU, my residence permit card (which also finctions as EU visa) has been taken by authorities 2 days before it expired, although I needed it for travelling to Russia (we don't have direct flights Luxembourg-Russia, I HAVE to go via other countries). The Ministry was supposed to give me a "visa de retour", but instead they told me that they don't want to spend time on me, they don't care how I will get to my country and if I get arrested in other EU countries for travelling without visa, it's my responsibility. If you'd like to know how it happened and what was the end, please read the story below.
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My new blog page on Facebook

Recently I started a Facebook page "Tatiana's Travel Blog". If you'd like to follow my adventures, feel free to like and share it!

Лугано и озеро Комо

В Лугано я хотела попасть уже довольно давно, только всё никак не могла собраться. Из Люксембурга туда добраться непросто - либо быстро, но дорого, либо дешево, но медленно. Плюс, вся поездка должна уместиться в выходные. Плюс, ночевать надо где-то в Италии, потому что в Швейцарии дорого. Но в этот раз мне что-то настолько сильно захотелось там оказаться, что я забила на все трудности, купила билеты, собрала рюкзак и поехала.

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The Scandinavia trip

Today I will tell about my advantures in Scandinavia.

I've got a week off, and decided to go to the North. Just in time, in mid-November, when it's dark and cold there) Anyway, I decided that I want, I booked my tickets, took my backpack and left home.


Day 1 (Saturday)

The first challenge was to get to Oslo from Charleroi. I didn't have visa for that day. My residence permit was valide only from the day after. Likely, the person at the registration desk did not even ask for my visa, assuming that I have it) So, I managed to take the flight and by midnight I arrived in the hostel in Oslo.

Day 2 (Sunday)

In the morning I asked a girl at the reception how to get to one museum. "Well, it's outside the city, in the mountains". Stop. The magic word "Mountains" has sounded. Do I need a museum? No, I need the mountains) After a couple of hours of sight-seeing in the city of Oslo I took a train and went up to 500m above the see.
When I arrived at the summit, it has already started getting dark. There was a walking path going down, I decided to follow it and see where it will lead me.
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What can be better then following an unknown road in unknown forest? Only to get lost there) That's what happened to me) Because of the weird sign-posting. The signs show random distances to random places, titles are always different. First I was trying to find one train station, then another (as there were no signs to the 1st one any more). After a 1h walk I decided just to follow the trail) It will lead me somewhere.
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At the meantime, it became dark. Likely, I did not turn from the main trail, and there were street light posts) Suddenly I noticed lights on the horizon. Is there something, finally? I came closer. It was a restaurant. I came in and asked a girl whether there's a station nearby. "Yes, we have a metro, 5km through the forest, it should take about 1h". Damn it! It's already night outside! But, I've got no choice, so I continued the walk in the direction that she pointed. The sign with the name of the village was pointing to the oposite direction...
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The girl was right - in 1h I found a metro station. Not that line that I expected, but it was the metro! Oh, how few is needed for happiness) I returned to Oslo, and decided to spend the rest of the evening like a normal tourist.

Day 3 (Monday)

The next morning I took a train to Stockholm. The road took about 6 hours. Finally, I've got time to study Luxembourgish:) I arrived at 14h, droped my stuff in hostel, and went to the medieval town, Gamla Stan. Again, at 15h it was already dark) I spent several hours walking along random streets and taking pictures.
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Day 4 (Tuesday)

On Tuesday morning I took a train to Malmö, the 3rd biggest town in Sweden, from where I was supposed to go to Copenhagen. Malmö is a lovely Northern town, rather big, but calm and slow to compare with Stockholm. Here it worth saying that by the time I've got there I barely could walk - my foot hurt because of the long walks during the past days. But, the interest was stronger than the pain, so I took a map and went to the city centre.
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A couple of hours later I returned to the railway station and took the train to Copenhagen, through Øresund.

Day 5 (Wednesday)

On the fifth day I realized that I cannot walk. The foot hurts with each step. So, I rented a bike and continued)
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The greatest advantage of sight-seeing by bike - within several hours you can see absolutely everything. By foot it would take 2 days minimum.

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Day 6 (Thursday)

When I woke up, I realized that yesturday I have already seen everything in the old town, and actially, there is nothing to do there another day. I went to the railway station, bought a day pass for the Copenhagen region, asked in the tourist office what is worth visiting, and took a train to the first place.
***
Half an hour later I was already in a small town called Roskilde. There is the main Danish Cathedral, the burial place of Danish kings - that's why I actually decided to go there. But not only the Cathedral worth seeing - the town itself is beautiful!
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After a short walk, I took a bus direction to Hillerød, where I wanted to find the castle. Again - station, searching for the main street, eating local sweets up to overdose, and finally, the castle:

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I would love to visit more towns, but there was another cultural program for the evening. The Tivoli park.

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Day 7 (Friday)

On Friday morning I left Copenhagen and went back to Sweden. The next destination was Göteborg, the 2nd biggest Swedish town. Didn't really plan to go there, but it was the cheapest option to get home - thanks to RyanAir) Again, the sight-seeing was at night (bloody polar winter with its short daylight time!).

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Day 8 (Saturday)

The last day of my vacation. If everything goes smoothly, around midnight I'll come home.
The morning started with a walk along the fjord:
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Then - flight to Paris, X-mass market at Champs-Élysées, the Eifel Tower, the Cathedral, and finally TGV to Metz. To Metz, not to Luxembourg. Adventures did not end yet)
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In Metz (where I arrived at 22h) I decided to go to the city centre. First 1-2 km I was honestly trying to remember the way, but then I decided to find the Cathedral. I found it, and then reallized that I have 40 min before the last train home, and I've no idea where I am. I did not find the Gare myself, so I started asking people on the streets. Eventually, I found the station and took the last train to Luxembourg.

From Luxembourg to Russia by trains

First, I’d like to explain why I actually decided to do it. I’m Russian, and my visa expires soon. Thus, I have to leave the EU before 1st November 2013. Otherwise I’ll get arrested and deported. I’m a harpist, and as I’ve no clue for how long I will have to wait for my new visa, I decided to take my instrument with me. A plane ticket was already about 250 euro + 200 euro more for harp. That’s why I decided to travel by trains.

After a short examination of Google maps, I decided that the easiest way will be to go through Germany, Poland and Ukraine, crossing the borders in Gorlitz/Zgorzelec, Medyka/Shegyni and somewhere else, I didn’t search anything for the border with Russia yet)

Day 1, 29 Oct 2013 (Tuesday)

On the eve of the departure I discovered that half of the trains I was planning to take in Germany are not included into Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket. Namely, IC expresses - only regional trains are allowed. SurpriseJ Better late than never. I prepared a new schedule, booked train tickets for Poland and hostel in Kyiv.

The next morning I took a train to Trier at 7:14. It was the first sane connection. I had to cross the whole Germany by local trains within 1 day, which takes rather long time. If I miss a train somewhere on my way, I risk missing the first train in Poland next morning, and then the whole my plan will be… let’s say, not doable any more)

A soon as I arrived to Trier, I bought in automate a Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket, which allows to take all the regional trains, buses and other local public transport in Germany for only 44 euros. The next destination was Koblenz. I took the train at 8:23.
Do you see the point? The controleur noticed J This ticket is valid from 9am, and it was only 8:23. I realized it when jumping into the closing doors of the train. The guy came and told that I cannot use my ticket yet. I apologized, explained that I didn’t have time to buy anything else, and he let me travel with this one. Thanks goodness!!! The next couple of hours I spent watching beautiful views of the bank of Mosel River from window and eating Armenian sweets that my friend Haykuhi gave me yesterday.


At half past ten I arrived to Koblenz. Sitting in a café and drinking coffee, I was listening to German people talking about the hurricane which came to Europe these days. A man said that the whole transport system is not stable now. Great! If one of my trains is cancelled, I won’t be able to cross the border in time!

One more thing attracted my attention at the Gare of Koblenz. Let’s finally call the things with their real names!

The rest of the day I spent in trains, changing them every 2 hours. By 21h I finally arrived to Dresden, where I’m writing this report now. In 40 min I will catch the last train to Gorlitz, where I will cross the border, most probably by foot. I’ll arrive there after 1am, and my first train in Poland is at 5:55. No public transport this time, I don’t have Polish money to buy a ticket, what I’m gonna do – no idea. As always, somehow.


Day 2, 30 Oct 2013 (Wednesday)

It was 1.20 am when controleur woke me up saying “Gorlitz, end Station”. I arrived to the border between Germany and Poland.

The station was empty. Several people, who got off the last train with me, have already disappeared, and I was staying alone on empty platform, with a suitcase and a harp behind my back. I went down to tunnel and followed the signs “EXIT TO CITY”. The tunnel led me to the entrance of the Railway Station, but it was closed. Great! Who to get out of here? I tried the other exit. It was open, and I found myself on a dark empty street. I checked the tram timetable at the stop nearby – the first one was after 7am. My next train was from Polish station Zgorzelec at 5:55. No variants, I have to cross the border by foot.
I decided to stay overnight at the Gorlitz station, i.e. in the tunnel under it. Staying near the closed entrance, I suddenly saw a guy on bike, approaching. When he stopped near me, I explained that I’m waiting here for a train. The guy spoke very poor English, and we barely could understand each other (what I would do if I wouldn’t speak Luxembourgish?). “The station is rather dangerous at night,” – he said. - “There’s a waiting room on the platform, but I wouldn’t stay there. Police also shows up here sometimes”. He left, and I realized in what situation I was. After a quick look around, I decided that the safest place to stay will be… elevator. Where I’ve spent almost 2h waiting until the station is open)  
At 4am I started my walk to Poland. In fact, Gorlizt and Zgorzelec are the same town divided into German and Polish parts by the border. It was still dark outside, and the streets were empty. It took me about 1.5h to get to my destination (I found it not from the first attempt, and even not from the second)).



When I finally came there, I realized that it was very right decision to wait at the German side: the station was closed. A train arrived, and I came in. A Polish controleur tried to sell me a ticket. I said: “Sorry, I don’t understand your language. I don’t have Polish money, but I need to go to Weglienec, because there’ll be my next train.” He looked at the ticket Weglienec-Krakow that I printed out on the eve, and allowed me to take the train without paying.

In Weglienec I changed the train (I was lucky, because I woke up several minutes before the station) and went to Krakow. It was a nice journey, I was sitting and looking at Polish nature and small towns passing behind the window of my train. When in 5 hours they finally came up with idea to turn on the heating, it became even better)
By 14h I arrived in Krakow. I exchanged some money to Polish zloty, bought a train ticket to Lvov (Ukraine), left my harp in the luggage room and went to city. I had almost 6h before the next train. Picture time!




In the evening I met my Polish friend Anna who moved to Krakow a couple weeks ago. She told me about local speciality called Marlenka. It’s a very sweet pie with nuts and honey. We decided to find it, and ended up in a small cosy restaurant.



At 21h I took the train to Lvov. Until the border I had a sitting place, and after Przemysl I was supposed to change the wagon. When I asked the controleur where should I go, he told in Polish that only 2 first wagons proceed to Ukraine. Damn it! I jumped out of the train and ran as fast as I could towards the head of the train, with the harp and other stuff)
Ukrainian trains… When I saw this, my first reaction was “May be, I’ll go by foot?”

I’ve crossed the border. The Polish officer asked for my passport, and I decided to give it without my authorisation to stay in EU, just to have a look what will happen. Nothing! He saw a visa which had expired 2 years ago, typed my name in his device, checked the data base and put the stamp into my passport. Cool) Waiting for the Ukrainian control, I was examining extracts of the Ukrainian laws stuck to the wall. One of the sheets was saying that the good with cost more than 200 euro must be declared, otherwise they can be confiscated. F#ck!!! My harp costs 1200 euro.
An officer came to me:

- Do you have any documents for the harp?
- Nothing.
- You play in ensemble?
- No, just for myself.
- Ok.

He left. After that I jumped down from my 3rd floor and hided the original bills for the harp showing the amount of 1200 euro into my backpack…

Day 3, 31 Oct 2013 (Thursday)

6 am came an hour earlier than I expected it: I forgot about the time difference between Poland and Ukraine. The controleur woke me up (already the second night!). I was in Lvov.
Like yesterday, I exchanged some money, bought a ticket to the next destination (Kyiv), dropped my harp and suitcase at the storage room and went to the city-centre.

Ukraine is not like Europe. It is different, everything. Not only the Cyrillic alphabet used everywhere, but the whole atmosphere. It might be difficult to understand if you’ve never been to the ex-Soviet countries. It’s something that you can only feel being here.

Amazing, how much you can discover when you have 15h of spare time in unknown city! I’ve got a tourist map in local info centre, and started roaming the streets of the historical part of Lvov.



One of the differences between Ukraine and Europe – here you can find really interesting places behind absolutely unnoticeable doors without any labels. I entered a small coffee shop next to the tourist office. Apart of the coffee counter, there was a huge basement decorated as “coffee mines". At the entrance you receive a helmet, and then you’re welcome to explore the place by yourself. You can even seat with a cup of coffee somewhere inside of one of artificial tunnels.

I was walking along the streets the whole day. At dusk, I decided to take a cup of tea before going back to the railway station. A place that at first glance looked like a small café appeared to be a 5-floor chocolate house. Apart of the cafe, there was also a shop with really amazing things made out of chocolate.

At 22h I took a train to Kyiv.
Here I'd like to interrupt my story. I'm still in the capital of Ukraine (8 Nov), tomorrow I'll go to Moscow. What I was doing these days - well, the official version - sightseeing, non-official - at my kitchen when I'm back in Luxembourg)

more photos of the trip here

Racing to outlet

Today I decided to go to outlet centre in Messancy (a small Belgian town on the border with Luxembourg) for shopping. On my way I was going to buy a train ticket to Reims for tomorrow, at the automate at Gare Central. That was my initial plan, which, as usually, didn't work out.

The ticket automate was broken. It didn't react on my attempts to enter the name of the station. *£$%!!! Tomorrow morning I need to go to Reims, I can buy my ticket only today and the only place where I can do it (without the automate) is France. I glanced at my watches - 12:48. The next train to the border departs at 12:52.

12:53, I'm sitting in the train direction Rodange with my bike. When I'm gonna do shopping if I have to cycle to France now? The next half an hour I spent thinking about what I will do with the French railways))

At 13:30 I arrived to Rodange, the border with France (nice place, in my first visit, 2 years ago, I wanted to cycle to France, but didn't find it and came mistakenly to Belgium). From here my racing began. It took me 30 min to get to Longwy. Although the road sign indicates 2km, in fact I also need to ride through both villages, so the real distance between 2 Gares is 8km.

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In Longwy I've got my ticket to Reims. One way, because I discovered that I've run out of money:) Without wasting time, I cycled back to Rodange. I had no clue how to get to Clemency, the village from where I was initially planning to ride to Messancy. The only thing I knew - I have to get there as soon as possible, it's 15h now and the outlet works until 19h. On the Gare a man on duty advised me to take a bus from Petange, a neighbour village.

Petange, 15:15. When I asked a man in the ticket office, he told that the next bus to Clemency will be in 30 min.
- Do you have a map of the region? I think, by bike I'll get there quicker.
- Well, it's 9km. I can print out the map for you.

He gave me the map with cycling path marked on it, and I continued my racing. Until I found Fischer bakery in 500m :)
After a quick coffee I followed the path on the map. Soon, with a great happiness, I saw a sign of the national bike path 12, direction Clemency! Great!!! I've no need to ride on a road with cars!

It took me 1h to get to Clemency, and 20 min more to get out of there. What I hate in Luxembourg, the road signs are not consistent with the roads. I turned where it was written Messancy, and found myself in a dead end among houses... fail))

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Eventually, I've found the right way. The road was pretty good for Belgium, and by 17:20 I've finally arrived to the shopping centre. Wet, because of the rain, but not completely wet, because of my rain coat :)

Shopping happened, I've bought new jeans) In the last shop a security guy reached me (dialogue was in French):

- Is it your bike there?
- Yes.
- It's not allowed to park in the middle of the shopping centre.
- But there was no bike parking...
- There is, right near the entrance.
- Oh, sorry, I didn't see. It's only 30 min before the closing of the outlet, can I leave it there? Next time I'll use the parking.
- Ok.

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Actually, it wasn't parked that bad) Anyway, it's 19h20, I'm done with the shopping, and now I need to get to the Grand Duchy as soon as possible, preferably before the dusk.

I arrived to Clemency 3 min before the bus (as usually). It was the end of my racing for today. For the whole day I cycled about 40 km. Tomorrow will be another journey. I will go to Reims, again with my bike. Let's see what adventures I'll find there! ;)

Cycling in Flandria

Several months ago, on the Easter week-end, me and my friend Joe decided to go cycling to Flandria. I love this region, its architecture, language and people. And I love cycling)
At the beginning the plan was to get to Knokke by train, from Lux-city via Liege. Don't ask me why via Liege, I know that it's weird, just believe that day it was the best option:) From Knokke we were planning to cycle to Blanckenberge along the seashore, and then - to Brugge, staying somewhere there overnight. He-he, have our plans ever worked out?
I've bought a cross-border ticket (which happens to me very seldom) in advance. The bike ticket was 10 euro (!), and it's only for one station: Elwen-Gouvy! Belgian railways...

In the morning, on Easter, we've met in the train. Good beginning: we're sitting in the 1st class (thanx to controleur!), eating home-baked cookies. And... the 1st surprise: Joe's got his bike ticket for the same 10 euro to Knokke! I didn't know that it's possible, and asked only to Gouvy... In Belgium, another controleur allowed me to travel with my ticket to Liege (after he had learned from me how unfair is life:)).
In Liege we've changed the train. It was already a question of principle: I've hung the Elwen-Gouvy ticket to my bike pretending that it's a ticket to Knokke. It worked!!! The controleur saw that there's something on bike and left satisfied)

Flandria... It's hard to explain why I love it so much. You can only feel it when you're there: sea, Flemish language and bike culture. Everywhere!


Are there any crazy people who'd like to swim in such a cold weather and wind 16km/h?? Anyway:

I've never seen so many bikes on the streets as in Knokke. They are everywhere, it seems, even more numerous than cars. The 1st time in my life I was cycling in the traffic of bikes! Amazing...


Kids on recumbent, how do you find it?

Velodrome has been discovered on the way to Blanckenberge:

Due to a very strong wind, +10'C near the sea are felt like -1'C in Luxembourg. We've left our idea to ride along the seashore and took a bike line next to high-way:

Cycling in wool socks on hands: Russian style) Really, it was so cold! I was so happy that I put on my winter jacket, 2 or 3 cardigans, 2 pairs of gloves and socks on hands! That's +10'C in Flandria :)
By noon we've arrived to Blanckenberge. It was already not so bikeful as Knokke, but still very nice.


Y Umlaut :) It exists)))
We didn't stay in Blanckenberge for a long, just grabbed some food in one of local fish shops and moved further, to Brugge.
Brugge... is Brugge) Even don't want to write here anything, just look at pictures:




This is cool. It's in Japanese, it means "A bike can be rented here". Simple and clear))

By the end of the day we were already quite tired. We walked around the city centre, tried chocolate in different shops (it was the only purpose of visiting them:)).


We didn't manage to find a couch in Brugge, and went to Bruxelles, where Joe's friend lives. I've never thought that the city is so hilly: the place was on the summit of the hill. It was already dark, we were walking with our bikes up and up, guided by electronic voice from Joe's backpack - what a useful thing, GPS in tablet!
The next morning we went cycling in the city centre. I couldn't resist from another chocolate tour - coming to different chops and trying there everything. I love it! In 2 blocks I already couldn't look at sweets))

In the city tourist office we were told about the web-site www.fietsnet.be. It's a route planner, very useful if you want to cycle in Flandria and on the South-West of Holland.
At noon we took a train to Arlon, from where we cycled to Klengbetten. That was the end of our wonderful bike trip to Flandria.

More photos here

Cycling to Maastricht

Recently I decided to visit Maastricht. I live in Luxembourg already 1.5 year, but so far didn't go to Holland, and that's weird! So, on Saturday morning, at 6.40 I took my bike and went the Gare - the place, from where all my adventures usually start.
   The plan was to go to Ёlwen (Troisvierges), wait there 40 min for the bus to Hautbellain, ride from Hautbellain to Gouvy, the first Belgian railway station, and then take a train to Vise, a small Belgian town on the border with Holland.
   That's why I love Northern Luxembourg: I've arrived to Ёlwen at 9.15 and took the bus at 19.18, although on mobiliteit.lu there was no transport at this time)) This happened to me quite often when I lived there)

It took me 40 min to get to Gouvy. The area is quite hilly, but once you are on the top, it's sheer joy to ride down the hill!!!
   In Gouvy I had to wait 1h for the train to Liege. Finally I had time to do my homework for Luxembourgish course))
   The train arrived. An old Belgian train without a special place for bikes. The controller saw me and said "Avec un vélo? La dernière voiture!". Running to the last wagon while the train is still here))
   In Belgium one can buy a ticket for bike right in the train. A single ticket costs 5 euros. That day I was planning to change trains for many times, so I asked for 1-day pass (8 euros). Interesting: the controller said that he can sell me for the same price a bike ticket including Vise - Maastricht!
   In Liege I had a 20 min time gap before the next train. I decided to ride a bit in the city. But didn't manage, because I've discovered a velo-centre right near the Gare) They offer bikes for rent (around 12 euros per day), sell maps and other bike-related literature. Five min before my train I've bought a brochure "Les cyclists et le Code", and received a free map with cycling paths (how useful it became in several hours!).
   The train to Holland had an interesting space for bikes: it is separated from all the train, a controller asks where are you going, puts the bike to a special room and gives it back at your station.

To Vise I've arrived around 13h. Cycling path exists (which is already good), and goes along the river Maas through small Dutch villages. Very nice route! The only thing I disliked: on the signs with direction only numbers of cycling paths were mentioned, no names. If you don't know what is "78 ->", it's quite difficult to find a way.
After 1.5h of cycling against strong wind I've finally arrived to Maastricht. The town is awesome! Dutch language & architecture, lots of bikes on the streets... And the weather was great.

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At 17h I decided to start cycling home. Now the wind is blowing to my back!!! I still have 4 hours till the last train and 30km, should be enough! To the border I was cycling without problems, but when I came to Belgium... Yes, it's not Holland)) The route was quite picturesque, and everything was fine until the cycling path ended with a fence. Just a fence. No way further.

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It seems, the cycling path turned somewhere, but there were no signs, so I had to investigate where is it. A local guy told me the name of the village and shown on the map how to get to Liege. "You must go straight, then turn left to the road and you'll arrive to Herstal." Brilliant. Two hours till the last train and 15km.

Here it worth saying more about the quality of cycling paths. I actually suggest to show Belgian designers of bike lanes a real bike...

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In 1h I came to the village Herstal. While cycling there the bike path ended a couple more times, but I've found it again somewhere in bushes. One our till the last train and 7km. Eventually I took a train at 20.04 to Liege.

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I've managed to catch the last train to Luxembourg. As always, I didn't have cross-border ticket. Usually at this time no one doesn't check anything. The controleur (from CFL, likely) has come=) I pretended that I'm sleeping, and he decided not to wake me up. At this moment the door from the main part of wagon opens, and there's my bike. "Oh, she's also with a bike!". I am s-l-e-e-p-i-n-g and I don't care) Likely, he didn't tell me anything...
I've arrived to Luxembourg at midnight. The trip was really great, I've got my energy)

Instead of conclusion: (coffee in Liege, waiting for the last train in a bar where all the clients were with bikes...)
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