Monday, 14 April 2014

Cycling trip Prüm - Burg-Reuland - Troisvierges

For some time I have been planning a cycling trip to the north. Train will easily bring me to Troisvierges where I can take Vennbahn, the newly published cycling track from Luxembourg to the historic city of Aachen, Germany. Vennbahn is 125 km long. I cannot do it in one day and come back. Instead of taking train to Troisvierges, I decided to take bus number 407 from Ettelbruck to Prüm, Germany, and ride through Belgium to Troisvierges, Luxembourg, and take train back home.

(UPDATE: Vennbahn people told me this:

 "For the return you can either take the regional train from Aachen to Liège-Guillemins and Liège via Gouvy to Troisvierges or you look for a train to Trier from where you can get easily back to Luxemburg-City and Troisvierges. 
Last alternative is a Taxi-Shuttle: http://www.vennbahn.eu/en/service/shuttle/".)


The trip starts at Fischer bakery at Ettelbruck railway station
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Sports-tracker app eats smart phone battery. This time I had a small power bank with me and  could recharge my Nokia before the battery died and got the whole trip recorded, unlike many times earlier.

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Bus ticket cost 2 euros (bicycle is free) inside Luxembourg, but this trip go to Germany, and cost 5 euros one way. Return ticket is a bit cheaper. I cannot complain, since the distance is more than 60 km and takes one hour 25 minutes. It is a beautiful bus ride, up and down winding hill roads through lovely country. During the first half of the journey there was only one other passenger apart from me.
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The André bus arrives in Prüm Hahnplatz, in front of the Basilica of St. Salvator.
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Prüm is a lovely little town. The church is one of the main attractions. I learned that the origins of it is in 8th century during the reign of Pepin the Short, King of the Francs. Pepin was son of Charles Martel, the hero who put stop to the violent invasion of islam in the battle of Tours. Pepin's name in Finnish sounds funny: "Pipin Pieni".
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If you look over the Hahnplatz from the Church door, you will see the Tourist information. There I got a pile of free maps and brochures. In fact I didn't need them much, since the track is very well marked.
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The traffic will not bother cyclists. Cars are high up in the air. Motorway from Trier to St. Vith.
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But there are other dangers. I highly recommend that you don't take photos while riding. Stop first and then take the photo.
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This is one reason why we love Germany. You don't get lost.
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The other reason why we love Germany is the restoration services. The owner of Weltenbummler was Dutch and thought I am Dutch as well, so he explained everything in Dutch, but with ease switched into French and stated "Mais je vois que vous avez tout compris".
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Nourishment for cyclists.
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What a luxury! Observe the butterflies, they are called "Brimstones". Gonepteryx rhamni in Latin, ("Sitruunaperhonen" in Finnish, "Citronfjäril" in Swedish, "Citron" in French, "Zitroonenfalter" in German, "Listkowiec cytrynek" in Polish, 钩粉蝶 in Chinese (literally "Hook butterfly" says Google translator, English name is justified, but Chinese surprise me). This time Finnish language follows Indo-European languages, but English language has its own apocalyptic variation!).

Did you know that this butterfly eat ONLY two plants. The eggs are laid only on two plants and the larvae eat the leaves of them, Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) or Alder Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula). NOTHING ELSE! I call this strict raw vegan diet. Adult brimstone butterflies eat ONLY the nectar in the flowers of these plants and will survive through the long winter with the energy stored! In the springtime the female need to travel long distances in order to find another Buckthorn. In Finnish language the plants are called "orapaatsama" ja "korpipaatsama", if anybody is interested to know. It is easy to spot these bright coloured butterflies when they fly, but when they sit down they never open their bright wings and the underside is greenish.
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The border of Germany and Belgium has been under many disputes. Now it is here. This part of Belgium is in fact German speaking Belgium, one of the four communities of country, others are Flemish (Dutch) speaking Flanders, French speaking Wallonia and the capital region Brussels. Local people often protest French presence in their community and vandalise traffic signs, here the border sign informing that we are arriving in Belgium.
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The river Our. There are trouts in it. Water is clean.
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One of the small villages in the border area. This village, Hemmeres, has seen horrors of war in the form of bombardments. Railway station was reduced into dust.
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Few kilometers further the stations are intact, but the railway doesn't exist anymore. In fact it serves as bicycle track, the Vennbahn.
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The Vennbahn
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Vennbahn bunnies
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One of the moderately interesting places was Burg-Reuland with the ruins and a barrock church. There is another Reuland in central Luxembourg. This is BURG-Reuland.
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Weweler church is located one km uphill from Reuland. It is worth visiting, but the next village Oudler is not. In French there is a good word "trou". Don't make the mistake I did when I followed the signs down to the valley to see if  there is a nice coffee shop.
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Compare these signs to the signs in Germany! They tell everything about the two countries. (Just joking, I love Belgium!) It takes some effort to find out what they mean. Hear the message is that the tunnel ahead is closed and the cyclist need to take a hill path instead. There were two tunnels closed and one bridge as well. Apparently the Vennbahn is not yet fully operational.

UPDATE: I learned afterwards, that this tunnel is closed in order to protect the rare species of bats living in the tunnel!
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This former railway station is a beauty.
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On Vennbahn you always know the country you are in. View to the front. DSC_9658

The same spot, but looking behind.
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After a while I arrived to the highest point of Luxembourg. Incredible 558 meters from the sea level! I feel tired, probably hypobaropathy or more commonly Altitude sickness. This is also a place where I had to look for a while to find the track.
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Luxembourg is pretty awesome!
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This is everything you will see in Troisvierges, the Three Virgins. CFL (railway company) brought me back to Ettelbruck. Ticket 2 euros, bicycle free.
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Very useful railway station, ticket sales is open from 6:15 to 21:30 working days and from 9:30 to 16:30 weekends. They sell international tickets too. But the village is a zero, only a group of idle youngsters hanging around the Maison des Jeunes. Luxembourg government and towns provide special youth houses, loaded with activities, for young people who don't have initiative and imagination to find anything to do themselves.
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Voilà!
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