So the next little leg of the trip to Strasbourg is now complete and I’ve got myself another day of sightseeing tomorrow so I thought I’d do a quick write up whilst having a night off in the hostel. Last time I left you in Hollenfels, Luxembourg where I then did a short 18 mile cycle into Luxembourg city, the first 5 miles towards Mersh through winding forests being some of the nicest cycling scenery I’ve ever seen!
Luxembourg city was nice, some dramatic views down from the “Ville Haute” and some lovely bookshops that I nosed around whilst hunting for maps but I have to say my favourite part of this small country has to be the scenery I’ve ridden through both on the way into and out of the main city.
Atmospheric forests in the west and then Northern French style agriculture to the South-East, a very nice cycle down to the border town of Schengen (I assume this where the EU freedom of movement agreement was signed?) and smooth immaculate tarmac throughout almost the entire country!
After rolling into Germany I hit some super steep climbs through the town of Perl but was rewarded with a lovely cycle path that makes it’s way through some small villages and then rides along the French/German border passing through some giant wind turbines, very dramatic when it’s just you and ten of these things and no other person in sight.
The cycle path along the border eventually lead down to the Sarre river cycle path which I followed for nearly two days all the way from Merzig to Bissert near Sarre Union. I stopped the first night in Saarlouis (every town on this river seems to be named after it!) and realised very quickly that I need to learn some German after having a fumbled conversation with the campsite owners (fortunately we managed to converse in French). Strangely when I asked if it was possible to buy a bottle of beer from their bar they sad the bar was closed but I could have a bottle for free instead? I was confused but was not going to complain, whilst enjoying my free drink a shy looking hedgehog snook up on me!
A quick look around Saarlouis in the morning to see some of the walls of the fortress and then onto what would be long day towards Sarre-Union.
I took a quick stop in Saarebrucken to get some Curry-wurst (delicious!) and to see the centre before heading onto the German-French border which was marked with a little flag unlike my previous border crossings. Whilst checking my map at the border an old guy came up to me and asked in French where I’d cycled from and was quite shocked when I said London and that I was heading for Vienna (I’ve decided to not say China just yet in case people think I’m mad!) and he said that it’s a long ride to Sarre-Union as the river winds a lot.
He wasn’t wrong, todays route is only 70km as the crow flies but I must have been pushing 100km after the massive winds in the river north-east of Sarralbe. I had a quick rest once I finally reach Sarralbe itself to checkout the church and then cracked on towards my camp in Bissert.
Very nice little camp with a small island in a pond for campers. Very pretty but when it rained later that night I became a bit paranoid that the island would dissolve from under me! Also when cooking some mackerel and spaghetti that night a cat ran over and kept trying to get at my food, it wouldn’t leave me alone for a second until I tried to get a picture of it, at this point it promptly buggered off!
Popped into a co-op supermarket the following morning, quite an ordeal as I have to take all the bags off my bike and put them in a trolley that I push round the supermarket with to only purchase 4 items, I get a lot of funny looks.
I then headed to a pharmacy to try and buy some alcohol for my cooking stove, again more weird looks as I walk in after climbing a big hill out of breath and demand alcohol whilst rubbing my forearm to demonstrate what I’m after (rubbing alcohol is a useable backup to methylated alcohol for my stove which I’ve been having trouble finding). The helpful assistant figured out what I meant but unfortunately the only ones they had were mint scented (I can’t use this as when the scent burns it smells disgusting and gets into the food).
I then did a short hilly ride to a campsite in Vilsberg just outside of Phalsbourg so that I could do some bike maintenance (brakes are getting a bit unresponsive). Wonderful campsite owner who was very curious about where I was cycling too (Camping Les Bouleaux I highly recommend) and later when I was using the Wifi near reception a couple of his friends came out asking about my trip! Also enjoyed a really good cherry beer at the camp although the name wouldn’t sell to well in England (Grimbergen).
I left camp early the next day to try and get to Strasbourg as early as I could so I could start relaxing (flawed logic I know) and had a quick look at the square in Phalsbourg (more churches) and then relaxed as I sped down maybe a 5km descent to the lovely little village of Lutzelbourg. There seem to be lot of German style buildings around here, I also think I overheard some people talking in Alsatian as well (Not barking like dogs! It’s a real language honest!).
After taking a couple of snaps of the more pretty bits of the town I jumped onto the canal cycle path that would carry me all the way to Strasbourg. Not sure if I’m a fan of these canal paths, they are very fast, efficient and safe ways of cycling around but they are quite boring.
Whilst stopped on the canal for lunch an old German man cycling the other way stopped and after a mixture of hand gestures and broken French conveyed that there was a big diversion further down the cycle path, he tried to explain the way around but I couldn’t understand so resolved to figure it out myself (I ended up selectively ignoring the closed path signs and cycled through the TGV bridge construction site, whoops…). We got chatting (and map pointing) about where we each were going to and I realised this little old guy was going to cycle 100km that day, puts me to shame!
To end the day I spent an hour lost in Strasbourg and ended up standing outside a McDonalds stealing their WiFi to figure out where to go. Reached the hostel only to find out the dorm wasn’t ready for 2 hours! I Should’ve had a lie in…
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I also want to divert the interest this trip generates towards helping out a charity that made a big differance to some friends of mine. Samuels Children Charity are a Lewes based charity providing support to families throughout the UK who are currently affected by childhood cancer. I hope to raise the sum of £5,000 from people who hear about this trip to help them continue their work, and to also keep me motivated throughout the challenges this trip will provide! If you’d like to see how the fundraising is going (or even better would like too donate!) then click here.