Whirlwind of days filled out the last of our stay in Germany. We are now in Rotterdam and I am catching up. Tentative plans for the week were to ride bikes of course but to also experience a little more of the Eifel region before leaving. A lot of the riding is getting us ready for the last week when we plan to head for southern France and ride some past TDF mountain stages, hoping they are clear of snow. Wednesday, I just didn’t have a great feel for the ride. The weather turned colder with a lot more wind. A flat ride to and around the town of Kall and then head up the road towards the site of my suspected speeding ticket, caught by a sneaky traffic camera and quick limit change. Following some of the bike trail signs is a challenge, they are small and sometimes slightly hidden and don’t always point in a recognizable direction. With the up and down terrain, Bushy and I get separated on the hilly bits and that’s what happened today. Waiting at a position where it was a bit sketchy, and waiting, and waiting…. As the cold seeped in, time to re trace the route with no success in finding my ride partner. Back and forth, up and down and wait, eventually I give up and start riding back to the time share. Warm up some and wait but eventually in the car and off to try and see if Bushy is along the route on the way back. No success so back to the lodge and there he is. We probably rode right by each other as we looked to reconnect with no success. Next time, better planning for when and if we get separated. Time to relax, shower up and drive to a town we found on our rides that looked promising for dinner. Success, nice place, good food, casual and friendly with the chance to try and order without a lot of English.
Thursday, following a suggestion from my friend Jason, we head to Bitburg and a chance to ride around and eventually visit a town called Trier that supposedly is one of the oldest inhabited area of Europe, dating back to the Druids. It’s a hour or so of driving to get there, we’ve learned from the Dunkirk failure to check in with the local Bitburg information center which results in a great plan to ride about 50 kilometers to Trier and then take a commuter train back to our start at a rail station just out of the center of Bitburg, Bitburg/Erdohl. Great choice of a ride following a rail line and river to Trier, mostly downhill and super scenic, lots of pictures. Eventually, got to the car for the ride back to have dinner at one of the places we ate at earlier in Germany, a nice hotel restaurant. Back to the time share, pack the bikes back into the cases for the train rides to Rotterdam.
Friday, up at 5 A.M. so we can make all our connections. Fitting all this gear into the Mercedes is a major challange, I don’t know how but we get it all in with no rear vision except for the outside mirrors. This is where we have to return to Lille to retrieve the tire pump we left there by accident when we left a few days ago. Kind of crazy, drive from Gemund, through Brussels to Lille and then back to Brussels airport where we need to return the rental car before 11:00 A.M. Tight schedule, luckily it’s early and traffic is light and we make good time to Lille where Luci has made us a light, late breakfast snack and coffee. Very nice and generous. About 15 minutes after we get there we are back on the road towards the airport. There is some confusion about how close the rail connection is to the drop off zone for the rental car. We suspect both terminals are together from our experience at past transit centers. In to the Hertz return after a slight mistake on the part of GPS input before 10:30 and yes the rail terminal is very close, thank goodness with all the bike bags and other luggage. We have 2 sets of tickets because that’s what a ticket seller said we needed. One set for a local train to Antwerp and then a high speed international train from Antwerp to Rotterdam getting to our next stop about 4 P.M. Waiting on the platform we see that our local train also goes to Rotterdam, on the train at 11:11 and checking with conductor, yes we can stay on this slightly slower train but it’s in by 2:00 a few hours before we planned. A call to the Air BnB hosts and another short local train ride back south a few stops and we get a pick up ride from the platform to a wonderful converted old church admin building that has the home of our hosts, Hans and Margrit. Our home for the next few days is a loft suite, quite nice. Hnas gets us on some casual commuter bikes and a little tour of the immediate area for a Holland Sim card and some general history and ideas about the area. Back for bike assembly and then hop on the 3 speed bikes to try and find a restaurant. We are starving and find a franchise like place that is good, not very regional but fills the hole. Back home and a Netflix connection to close out the night. Tomorrow we ride around Holland.