The Road to Brussels - Grampies Cross Europe Germany to Spain Fall 2023 - CycleBlaze

August 26, 2023

The Road to Brussels

With the medical emergency, we lost a month of cycling. (And by the way, the chance to be the 1000th blog on Cycleblaze. This blog turns out to be #1008.)

Rebooking the air flight turned out to be the simplest (but not cheapest!) part of the change.  Finding ourselves in Markranstadt about a month late meant that we would need a train to catch us up to where we would have been, in our chain of 80 or more hotel reservations, strewn across Europe at 50-70 km intervals. Among these, it turned out that our target now should be a hostel that we had booked in Brussels.

Taking a bike on a German train is usually no problem, though you have to book a spot for the bike, and pay a nominal fee, on the high speed ICE lines, anyway. But all that is for domestic travel. On most ICE that are going into another country, for some reason bicycles are not welcome. 

Brussels, of course, is in Belgium, and there even is an impertinent piece of Netherlands poking into some routings out of Germany. So now what?  We tried phoning Deutsche Bahn, but like most utilities, they never answer. So we hatched a different plan. We would take Deutsche Bahn as far as a the border, at Aachen. Then with a six km walk or pedal, we would be free, in oh,oh, Netherlands. Netherlands is clearly not Belgium , so no guarantee that a train from there would accept us either. 

That's where, with our characteristic "fine then!" attitude, we simply decided to pedal to Brussels.  And hey, while we were at it, we could detour past Waterloo, a historical site that has always fascinated Dodie. 

Given all that, The Plan now has this patched in routing, while everything in Germany and Netherlands and Belgium from before is scrubbed! It's  188 km (3 days) of pedaling instead of relaxing. So be it. We do also see that part of the way is along the famed Meuse. That will be fun!

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Scott AndersonYou probably already mentioned this if I had been reading more closely, but what’s the plan for reuniting with up your bikes now?
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10 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesThe bikes are two full sized German ones that we bought in Netherlands in 2018 and stashed with friends in Leipzig, telling them we'll be right back. But CoviD intervened, and then we reconnected with the Fridays for a couple of tours. The German bikes have been in our friends' den for FIVE years. We bet they (the friends, not the bikes) will be glad to see us. The bikes will no doubt have forgotten us. That's good, because last time I ripped the seat post and seat out of Dodie's bike and contrived to throw both under a train!
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10 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesYes, I understood all that. In the original plan though you were starting from Leipzig. Are you still going to Leipzig first to pick them up, or will your friends be moving them forward to your new starting place?
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10 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonOh golly, our friends would surely be stressed if they had to truck those bikes 560 km west to Aachen. No, we'll spend a day with the friends and then jump the train together with the bikes. Aachen is on the Belgian border but still in Germany. We chose it since we could not easily find a train that would cross the border with us and the bikes.
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10 months ago
Tricia GrahamBikes and trains are certainly never easy. Your dash to Brussels wil certainly get you back into cycling form. Yes changing flights is not hard but not cheap!
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10 months ago
Suzanne GibsonWhy the longer route to Brussels and not more direct? We cycled through Flanders to Brussels (starting in Düsseeldorf) 6 years ago, interesting cities and towns along the way and great bicycle infrastructure.
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10 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Suzanne GibsonWe have bookings that made Brussels a reasonable goal and since it is our first few days cycling we needed to keep the distances down. Three days from Aachen seemed a good combination of time and distance. The original plan had us coming down from Antwerp to Brussels but it didn't work in this iteration.
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10 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Tricia GrahamOur original route was better and went through places we would have enjoyed but when needs must..... And yes, rebooking the flight was a very pricey exercise.
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10 months ago
Suzanne GibsonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesWhat I meant is that you seem to have chosen a longer route from Aachen to Brussels than necessary. Aachen - Brussels makes sense.
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10 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Suzanne GibsonAh yes, I see. Maybe next time since our accommodations are now all set. It is always a tough choice between making bookings ahead of time and taking it day by day.
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10 months ago
Suzanne GibsonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesI'm sure you have a good route lined up and I know how difficult it can be to get the route, accommodations and dates coordinated. It's just me sitting at home with no tours in sight making unnecessary comments. I'm looking forward to your route because it's one we didn't take!
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10 months ago
Sue PriceGood thing you are both such intrepid and flexible travellers! Looking forward to reading about the adventure - we are assuming that you've now had your yearly limit of travel disruptions and it will be smooth sailing! 🤞
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10 months ago