Windmills and canals, stone villages and pine forests, vineyards and half-timbered wine towns supplant each other to supply the decor. Riesling grapes supply the wine, and every type of grain supplies the beer. Trier says it is Europe's oldest city. Luxemburg is the EEC's smallest country, Brugge and Gent inspired Memling and Rubens, and are sure to inspire you.
Day 1: We join our trip in the beautiful “Venice of the North” Use the bike to explore Brugge’s stunning churches and guild halls, convents and canals. The Flemish primitives called Brugge home, and the Groeninge and Memling Museums are worthy stops. An authentic Belgian meal welcomes us: mussels, fries (yup, they’re Belgian: neither “French” nor “Freedom”), waffles, and the world’s best beers. Whatever km you work in tooling around town,
Day 2: A loop ride across the polders and out to the ocean, to Blankenberge. Visit the ornothological preserve in nearby Knokke, wander out onto the pier that reaches to the North Sea, try your hand at the odd bicycles in the velodrome. Then back to Brugge. If you want more k, you can head out to the ocean a second time, to the seaport of Oostende. Use your evening in Brugge to sip a Red Flanders Ale in the shadows of a windmill on the banks of a canal, while you pop Belgian chocolates. Can we work any more stereotypes into this scene? (Variable km)
Day 3: Follow Flanders’ canals, lined with their oft dramatic trees. But don’t get to used to the flat terrain... you are soon headed for the hills. Through Damme, Brugge’s harmonious 15th century port (and now a restaurant mecca), and along the banks of the Leopoldskanaal. Eeklo offers a beautiful brick town hall, and a town square perfect for a waffel stop. When you get to Gent, you may want to visit the lively old town by street car rather than bike: rather too many cobbles! But just the right number of beautiful bridges, churches, squares and Flemmish facades. (55km)
Day 4: Start the day with a train ride, from Flanders to Wallonia. The proactive can work in a stop in Brussels, for a quick look at the Grande Place, or at Belgiums iconic statue of a little boy urinating. If we were Belgian, we would ask for a new icon. Back on the bikes in Rochefort, home to Belgium’s greatest Trappist beer. Then perhaps a visit of Europe’s most imposing underground caverns, the Grottes de Han. Underground boats, trams, bars... a lot going on down there. On south through the hills: now we are earning our supper! The differences in scenery, not just in the terrain, are striking. And the journey is lovely. Fresh raspberries in Redu, cafés by babbling brooks, and a night in the country, under a thousand stars. (50 hilly km)
Day 5: Across the Ardenne plateau, and through the “Bulge” battlefields of WW II. According to myth (and the label), the local beer is brewed by lawn gnomes. Maybe if you have enough of it, you'll come to believe that. Our destination is Arlon, the biggest town out here, but that is not saying much. Actually, we often stay on the Luxemburg side of the border, in neighboring Gaichel, just to say we did. (75km)
Day 6: An extraordinary ride across the country of Luxembourg. How may times do you cross a country in a day, much less by bike? We reach the border within minutes of setting out, and cycle through the fascinating landscape of this peculiar country. The route is quiet and varied, the villages are quaint, the language is impossible. Yes, Luxembourg has its own language. Down the “Valley of the Seven Châteaux,” skirting Luxemburg City and its attendant traffic.
Through the “Petite Suisse,” so named because of an imagined resemblance to Heidi-land. And finally, out the other side of the country, and to Germany, which we reach at the Mosel Valley. Night finds us (or we find it) in Roman Trier, which advertises itself as the oldest city in Europe. And so it may be, though if it is Roman we wonder how it beat Rome to the punch? A beautiful place, regardless. Explore the pedestrian center and the vestiges of a 2000-year-old past. (75-85km)
Day 7: A beautiful riding day on the bike paths that line the Mosel River, Germany's most beautiful. The villages are prosperous and well-kept, the weingartens are cheerful, pretty, lush, and full of same. When we enter the valley in earnest, you will travel 20 kilometers side to side for every 10 forward. Bernkastel’s most famous vineyard is called the “Doktor,” because of the therapeutic benefits its produce were said to bestow. They still do. (70km)
Day 8: Leaving Bernkastel, we follow a loop in the river to Traben and the facing town of Trarbach. Then on to Bullay, along the prettiest stretch of the river. Castles look down on your path — climb up to one if you are feeling strong. Long routers can do an extra loop of the river and ride in to Cochem. Or, 5 minutes on the train from Bullay brings you there. The trip ends upon arrival in Cochem for those completing their cycle journeys. (25-130km)
- Bike rental is included!
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Europe Belgium Luxembourg Germany Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring
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