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    • Day 353


      July 1 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

      Wir verbringen hier in Stolberg die Nacht. Den als wir am Montag Nachmittag in einer Garage ankommen bestellt der Besitzer gleich die Teile und bietet uns an auf seinem Gelände zu Nächtigen. Wir gehen dann am Nachmittag mit dem ÖV nach Aachen. Die Stadt hat was, vor allem einen Schönen Dom und eine hübsche Altstadt. Wir geniessen eine Glace obwohl nicht so warm ist. Und die Aachner Spezialität die Printe. Was sehr lecker ist.Read more

    • Day 18

      Absolute Chaos Reigns

      September 4, 2023 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

      After the lung busting, leg snapping, gut wrenching climb from Monschau to Rohren the previous afternoon, I thought that all the physical challenges of the trip were well and truly behind us. It turned out that I was well and truly wrong.

      "The remaining two days will be a real doddle", I reassured the stricken faces of the broken riders. It had taken all our determination and fortitude to climb the ridiculous 16% gradient to the top of the mountain where our hotel was located. Of course, since I am of more generous proportions than the rest of the group, I could take some solace from the fact that I had probably worked 20% harder than anyone else. Sometimes gravity really can be a %$#@.

      After dinner my heart rate slowly dropped back to around 200 bpm as I staggered up the stairs and collapsed into a dreamless sleep (aka near death experience).

      This morning dawned bright and clear, just like the previous few days. Although we have experienced a few diverse challenges, the weather certainly had not been one of them.

      We loaded the bikes out of the storage shed and prepared for the dangerous ride back down the mountain (actually vertical cliff face) to Monschau. For the first few seconds everything was OK, then Greg uttered a few German oaths and announced that his bike was dead. I pretended I could not hear him. It was even harder to ignore when Paul also joined the chorus "My bike is busted too", he moaned. This was starting to sound like the three bears, all complaining about their porridge.

      Trying to sound both wise and interested, I asked "Have you tried turning it off and on again ?". Apparently they had. At this point there was both good and bad news. After a few aborted restarts, Paul's bike finally woke up and was ready to ride. Greg's bike on the other hand, was dead in the water.

      Since it was too difficult to arrange for another replacement bike, it was evident if there was going to be a solution, we would have to find it ourselves. The first step was to strip off the battery and pannier and stuff them onto another bike. Greg was then exhorted to dig deep and ride without a battery.

      Riding a 26kg ebike without power is no mean feat, but fortunately the first 3 km were all downhill. That was the easy bit. Then came the climb back alongside the Rur River to Monschau (not so easy). By the time Greg reached the town he was understandably exhausted.

      When we arrived at the town the previous day, we were staggered to find thousands of tourists of every shape, age and size, all jostling each other in the narrow streets. It was our first encounter with such an awful throng, and it took away all the attraction of the town. I had hoped that, on a Monday morning, it would be much quieter. That was true for a time, but we could soon see the crowds starting to build up.

      After a rest stop and a coffee or two, it was time to resume the ride. I had been in touch with Erik and he was trying hard to conjure a solution to our problem. We still had a significant hill to climb, before we reached the easier gradient of the Vennbahn. I looked around for a volunteer to ride Greg's bike, pointed to David and thanked him for offering to help. He did not look happy, but reluctantly climbed onboard, at the same time as looking daggers at me.

      And so we headed off, and up. Somehow, my masterpiece of planning and clever delegation worked miraculously, and we reached the familar bike path. "It will be easy now", I stated, "It is all downhill from here". Actually that was not quite true. The path continued to climb upwards for several more km, before finally peaking and starting to trend downhill. I dared to believe that we had passed the worst, however it was at about this point that a pelotonic disintegration of epic proportions took place.

      Although Michael had been appointed leader for the day, for some reason every rider seemed intent on doing what was right in their own eyes, and ignore the advice of their maps and GPS units. Within a short time, we had riders stretched far and wide all along the trail. Somewhat ironically, Greg (the only rider without a motor) raced off the front and was not seen again for the next 20 km. Others missed turns, some missed entire towns, Paul lost his wife, David seemed to disappear into a new Bermuda Triangle and rode the same section of the trail multiple times, the rest of the peloton just seemed old and confused (probably because that is what they are).

      Michael sure chose a rotten day to take on the mantle of leadership. Even with his regal imprimatur, he had no chance of controlling such a chaotic rabble.

      While all this was going on, Erik had been busy working the phones and had somehow arranged for the bike company to send a driver with a replacement bike for Greg. We know this because the bike man nearly managed to drive right through our peloton as we emerged into a small village. We recognised the name on the side of the van, and tried to get the riders in front to stop.

      What happened next was a comical chase with cyclists being followed by a bike van that was vainly trying to supply the replacement bike. After a few minutes of yelling and shouting the front riders did finally stop. But where on earth was Greg ? Nobody knew.

      I tried to explain to the driver that the broken bike was actually moving along faster than all the working bikes and was further down the trail. No wonder he looked confused. The confusion was compounded when I tried to ring Greg, only to hear his phone ringing in someone else's pannier. Oh that's right, we did lighten the bike by removing Greg's pannier !

      After another hour of even worse confusion, we somehow arrived at the town of Kornelimunster. By some miracle of mathematics, most of the peloton also arrived there at about the same time. We learned that the driver had found Greg and already swapped the bike. The age of miracles was obviously not over.

      All we were missing was David and Catriona. They were many kilometres ahead of us (or so we thought). The rest of us were hungry and found a delightful cafe for a very late lunch. The proprietor was very kind to us, but asked that "next time we came, could we please book ahead ?". I will certainly keep that in mind.

      It was then that the final surprise of the day took place. Midway through our lunches, David and Catriona staggered in through the door of the cafe. They were not miles ahead after all. They were actually behind us. I still have no idea how that happened, but it was that sort of day.

      The remaining 11 km to Aachen went by without further drama, apart from Michael nearly being run over by a speeding van when he rode over a small road crossing. In hindsight, the van probably missed him by a good 10 cm, so it wasn't that close.

      Our home for tonight is the opulent Mercure Hotel in Aachen. Sometimes we all need a little luxury. Tomorrow we finish this part of the ride, as we complete our circuit back into Maastricht.
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    • Day 9

      Retrouvailles avec Tobias

      December 9, 2019 in Germany ⋅ 🌧 6 °C

      Ce fut un jour de train! Premier: Wil-Zurich sans problème! On peut s’asseoir aisément. Deuxième est annulé. On choisit donc de se rendre à Bâles et de changer là-bas. Du coup, on prend Bâles-Cologne et finalement Cologne-Aix-la-Chapelle. Comble de malchance, le train devant nous brise et on nous bloque à la gare de Düren pour 30 min. Finalement, on repart et on revoit enfin Tobias après 6 ans! Pn s’embrasse et Tobias nous fait visiter la ville, la cathédrale et le marché de Noël. On retrouvera finalement sa famille pour une première rencontre très agréable. Après un excellent souper, on se laisse en se promettant qu’on se reverra bientôt. On dort près de la gare car demain on quittera pour Bruxelles en Belgique 🇧🇪Read more

    • Day 1


      August 9, 2022 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

      So there's absolutely no chance I'd ever be able to pronounce "printen" but I had some during my quick stop in Aachen. Aachen was very clean and beautiful. Really glad I found someone to show me around but after the 12km hike I'm ready for some rest so hopefully there's not too much to post on this app tomorrowRead more

    • Day 19

      18 May: The shrine of Mighty Charles

      May 18 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

      This morning we headed west to Aachen. Cologne was humid, with the occasional thunderstorm. We dressed for spring weather, then travelled through flat misty countryside to arrive at decidedly chill Aachen.

      Frustrating, as we had been carting around our winter clothes since Vancouver, and today had left them behind. Neil got a lot of mileage out of his nobility in lending me his raincoat!

      After a reviving expresso we found the Cathedral Treasury. The mighty Charlemagne built the cathedral, started in 796, as his Royal Chapel, in the Byzantine style, a high octagon with marble pillars, sixteen vaults, and exquisite gold interlaced mosaics. A gothic hall for pilgrims and a stunning chapel with soaring walls of stained glass were added.

      It is a unique treasure which has survived Viking raids, Napoleonic plunder and more recently Allied bombing attacks and artillery fire. Some parts of the complex were destroyed beyond repair, but 30 years of restoration, costing €40 million euros, have rescued this unique treasure, one of the first buildings to be declared a world heritage site.

      We have seen a number of cathedral treasuries, but this one blows your socks off. This stuff is authentic (Charlemagne’s hunting knife, well worn, with sheath, and his hunting horn), of the highest medieval workmanship (how did they do this stuff back then?) and unique in the light it throws on earlier ages. These are not just superb decorative objects.. They are reliquaries - the golden hand with a bone from the emperor’s arm; the famous bust (in all the history books) with part of his skull inside, the intricate gold construction that holds part of his thighbone.

      Pilgrims travelled from all over Europe to be close to these objects of power and blessing. We may scoff, but the adulation poured out on modern pop stars comes from the same impulse: to share a power greater than our own. Plus what we do in plastic, they did in gold of the highest workmanship.

      This man laid the foundations of European civilization, three hundred years after Rome had collapsed. He deserves our respect..
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    • Day 8

      Deutsches Fußballmuseum

      June 11, 2022 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

      Als erstes Ziel hatten wir heute trotz langer Fahrstrecke das Deutsche Fußballmuseum in Dortmund. Felix und ich gingen rein und Lilli konnte Lesen. Es gab sehr viel zu sehen und noch mehr zu lesen. Toll zu sehen wie das mit dem Fußball in England angefangen hat und was Deutschland für Erfolge gefeiert hat.

      Highlight waren die 4 Weltmeister und 3 Europameister Pokale 🏆

      Das Mittagessen gab es bei CfC 🐔da es schnell gehen musste. Dann ging es auf die Autobahn nach Aachen......
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    • Day 49


      June 24, 2022 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

      bye bye Germany...

      Pluies diluviennes sur Cologne ce matin...
      Impossible de poursuivre notre visite...

      Sommes dans le train pour les Pays-Bas : MAASTRICHT via Aachen (Aix-La-Chapelle).

      Masque toujours obligatoire tant que nous sommes en Allemagne.

      Arrivés à 14h à l'auberge de jeunesse "The Green Elephant and Spa"

      Très beau temps... contrairement à Cologne....
      ... J'ai parlé trop vite : orages très violents et grosses pluies vers 16h.
      Ça coincide avec l'atmosphère de cet après-midi ⛈️⛈️⛈️⚡️⚡️⚡️🌀🌀🌀☔️☔️☔️☄️☄️☄️🔥🔥🔥🌩🌩🌩😤😤👊👊🤺🤺🤼🤼🤼‍♂️🤼‍♂️🤼‍♀️🤼‍♀️💨💨💣💣💣💥💥💥

      ... J'ai dû lavé des sous-vêtements, les sacs et la valise ont dû être réorganisés.
      Replier le linge sale, comme si il était propre, est une idée qui permet de gagner de la place MAIS NE PAS le mettre dans un sac poubelle bien fermé, avant de le ranger dans le sac à dos, JAMAIS !! ☹️ ☹️ 🤬🤬🤬... ça s'est mal passé... le linge sale, même plié, pue 🤮🤮🤮🤢🤢🤢😷😷😷... "merci" Quentin d'avoir insisté avec cette idée... 🤬 mais pas d'accord... 😡😡😡💩💩💩🤐🤐🤐☠️☠️☠️☠️

      Enervée, énervée,... Crevée, crevée...
      Bon je me tais... c'est l'hôtel du cul tourné...


      Logement original : pas de dortoirs classiques, mais, plusieurs mini-chalets à tous les étages de l'auberge, avec, soit, lits doubles (plus cher), soit, lits superposés et c'est ce que j'ai choisi.
      Très belle auberge de jeunesse moderne avec cuisine collective, restaurant, jardin, super déco...j'aime beaucoup...
      ... concernant les cabines ou chalets : mignon et petit... très petit... très cher... pour une fois, oui, je le dis... alors oui le spa est inclus dedans mais bon, ce n'est pas un 4* ... c'est un Youth Hostel (auberge de jeunesse)
      Et il ne faut pas souffrir de claustrophobie...
      On vous le présente comme "the sweet little dream house","la petite maison des rêves" ... 😅😅😅 franchement, là, je me suis fracassé le crâne 💀 💀 au lit de Quentin (la bordure, tant qu'à faire)... j'ai vu 36 chandelles et des petits oiseaux... 🐥🐥🐥🐥💫💫💫💫🧨🧨
      On s'est engueulé, ... la maison des rêves.. MDR... la petite maison dans la prairie où dans la niaiserie, tant qu'on y est..

      Je râle mais c'est beau... cool... tranquille... à condition de l'être...
      Là, on ne l'est pas...
      La canicule nous a tapés sur le système, la fatigue se fait sentir, des désaccords sur des broutilles... bah oui, ce n'est ni la 1ère ni la dernière fois... ça passera... au Spa.. hein, Môsieur, qui veut laisser son linge puant, tel quel, dans le sac à dos ... beurkkk... je me tais... 🤐🤐🤐

      L'être humain est et sera toujours un éternel insatisfait... qui en veut toujours plus... et puis le français râle, c'est bien connu... et puis, dans la famille, il y a une part de perfectionnisme... moi je dis zut à ce perfectionnisme qui peut nous pourrir la vie... et nous rendre malade...

      Demain est un autre jour...
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    • Day 3


      March 28, 2023 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

      Aachen hab ich völlig unterschätzt, die Stadt ist absolut eine Reise wert. Der Dom als erstes Weltkulturerbe Deutschlands ist sehr beeindruckend. Auch die heiße Quelle hab ich mir kurz angesehen. Auf dem Markt haben wir leckeren Backfisch und holländischen Matjes gegessen und dann sind wir noch ein bisschen shoppen gegangen.Read more

    • Day 1

      #1 - Verdammte Axt, es geht los!

      April 26 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

      17. April
      Heute hab ich die allerersten Kartons gepackt, um private Sachen aus meiner Wohnung zu entfernen. Ich hab eine ganz tolle Zwischenmieterin, die sich während meiner Abwesenheit um Nuri und meine Pflanzen kümmern wird.

      Als ich meine Schals einpacke, bekomme ich den ersten Schock: jetzt wird’s ernst! Die Schals benutze ich jeden Tag – ich packe also meinen Alltag in Aachen in Kartons und realisiere, dass das tatsächlich passieren wird!

      25. April
      Kann ich nicht bitte einfach hier bleiben? Meine Wohnung ist so schön und mein Leben in Aachen auch… wieso wollte ich nochmal fort? Ist doch eigentlich Quatsch… Ich will niiiicht!Am liebsten würde ich mich für eine Woche zu Hause einschließen; es waren zu viele Abschiede in der letzten Zeit und ich hab Herzschmerz deswegen: meine letzte Gesangsstunde, das letzte Mal die Freundin auf einen Kaffee treffen, das letzte Mal auf meinem geliebten Fahrrad fahren, und: Nuri… - das Schlimmste an der ganzen Sache! Wie kann ich sie nur für 4 Monate alleine lassen?!In einzelnen Momenten zeigt sich die Abenteuerlust. Sie blitzt durch kleine Risse meines Alltags-Ichs durch.

      Aber es bleibt eine Achterbahn und mir geht die Pumpe. Einfach nicht weiter drüber nachdenken… einfach eine Kiste nach der anderen packen… einfach weitermachen. UFF! erstmal die letzte Nacht Zuhause verbringen. Morgen ist ein anderer Tag.

      26. April
      Ich sitze im Zug -nachdem die Deutsche Bahn mal wieder für unzählige Patzer und Stress gesorgt hat- und fühle mich wie in einem Traum. Fühle mich depersonalisiert und es ist alles so surreal! - immer öfter grinse ich fett durch die Gegend, weil ich mein Glück kaum fassen kann.

      Ich denke viel nach und mir wird klar: Letztendlich sind wir niemals alleine. Auf atomarer Ebene sind wir ständig in einem Netz aufgehoben und in konstanter Verbindung. Der Gedanke beruhigt mich ein wenig.

      Zwei Personen muntern und unterhalten mich während der langen Fahrt:

      ... Der erste Zug ist proppenvoll und alle sind genervt. Lustig sind die Durchsagen, die von einer echten rheinländischen Natur (vermutlich aus Köln) getätigt werden: jede Durchsage wird mit "Miaaau" angekündigt, manche auch damit beendet. Anfangs denke ich, das sei ein Versehen. Als wir in Köln ankommen, spielt er eine kurze Sequenz aus Biene Majas "Theme song": " einem unbekannten Laaaand" - "Willkommen in Kölle! Wir danken Ihnen für Ihre Fahrt mit der deutschen Bahn."

      ... auch ein kleiner süßer Hunde-Fratz muntert mich auf, als er auf der Suche nach Futter unter die Sitzreihen kriecht und unbeholfen rumschnüffelt, mit seiner süßen Schnauze!

      Ich bin auf dem Weg von Aachen nach Zürich und besuche ein befreundetes Paar aus dem Studium über's Wochenende. Also bei Freunden in einem (mehr oder weniger) deutschsprachigen Land. Also: slow start!
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