2016-06-19 (Day 03) Arlon – Basel

Today’s photo shows an Euro 2016 related ad for McDonalds on a platform at Nancy train station. I was at Nancy after getting off a train from Luxembourg and was looking at the ad while waiting for the train for Strasbourg to leave. The writing beside the ad says “Come as you are”. The day before Belgium had beaten Ireland 3 – 0  so I wasn’t too happy to be reminded about the game and our heavy defeat while waiting for my train to pull out of Nancy station.

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Camping Officiel in Arlon. I was up early this morning and managed to get everything packed up and loaded onto Travoy by about 10 o’clock. I needed to get to Luxembourg by 2 o’clock so as to catch the first of 3 trains to Switzerland so set off as soon as Travoy was loaded up.

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Total cycled this morning – 35 km. Total cycled so far – 60 km. Mostly downhill today and the cool conditions also made for an easy morning’s ride.

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Euro 2016 flags on 2 houses near Arlon. I took the ring road around Arlon and then followed the signs for Luxembourg. At one roundabout, I came across a house with a Belgian flag beside another house with a Belgian and Portuguese flag. Incredibly, these were the only flags I saw all morning eventhough I went past thousands of houses.

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Sign for Luxembourg police station. After cycling for about an hour, I approached the border with Luxembourg. About 600m from the border, I had passed by a sign for the border but at the border itself there were no signs at all. Indeed, I didn’t realize I was in Luxembourg until I went past a police station painted in the Luxembourg colors.

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2 garages on Luxembourg side of the border. At each of these garages, petrol was on sale for €1.12 and deisel for €1.05 a litre. Both these garages which were selling petrol for about 15 cents less per litre than in France though diesel was only about 5 cent cheaper.  In 1992, when we went to France, Luxembourg and Italy following the Tour de France, the cheapest petrol anywhere was in Luxembourg and it is still the case today.

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Apartment block being built alongside main road to Luxembourg. I was amazed at all the building work going on along the main road to Luxembourg. The road is called the Rue Liberte and is part of the Voie Liberte which runs about 800 km from Normandy to Bastogne, which commerates the liberation of France Luxembourg and Belgium in 1944. Back then, this road echoed to some of the fiercest fighting in WW2 as the Allies advanced but now echoes to the sound of building sites. There were dozens of buildings being constructed mostly apartments and office blocks. Having come from Belgium and having travelled through France the year before, it was a shock to see so much work on such a short stretch of road. There is obviously a lot of money about Luxembourg and despite the controversy over LuxLeaks, there is still considerable investment in property there.

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Only 13 degrees today in Luxembourg. You can see from this pharmacy sign that it was quite cool and overcast today. Shortly after taking this photo, I was passed by Bob Jungels in the Luxembourg national jersey who was going in the opposite direction. He was out for a spin with another cyclist who was wearing what looked like a retro woolen top. Bob had finished 6th in the Giro d’Italia 2 weeks previously and was probably on a recovery ride before defending his National jersey the following week.

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Photo : TDW Sport

Bob Jungels in the Luxembourg National jersey. Unfortunately, Bob and his friend were going so fast I didn’t have time to get a photo but he is on Strava  so I checked to see if they showed up on FlyBy. This is a feature on Strava where you can look up people who pass you by and where they were going. However, Bob only puts a few training spins up on Strava and he didn’t upload his spin from that Sunday.

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Bob Jungels training spin on Saturday June 18th. However, he did have a 115 km spin the day before during the Ireland Belgium game and that is up on Strava. You can see he lives about 10 km north of Luxembourg City and perhaps took advantage of less traffic during the game to go for a training run. The stats for his ride are just incredible. He averaged 42 km/hr and Strava estimated his weighted average power was 481W. The same spin I would average around 25 km/hr and achieve around 250W. But that is why Bob is in the Tour de France and I am only in the Tour de Travoy.

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Luxembourg train station. I arrived at the train station in Luxembourg just after 12 and headed straight to the ticket desk. There is a separate desk for international destinations and the staff understood English. So I was able to book a train to Basel via Nancy and Strasbourg which cost €75 in all. I had 40 minutes to change trains in Nancy but only 12 minutes in Strasbourg but if everything went to plan, I would be in Basel by about 7 o’clock that evening.

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TGV train at Luxembourg train station.  I had about an hour to wait for the train to Nancy so managed to get a bite to eat on the platform. The platform was deserted but then a TGV train pulled in and within seconds, the platform was swarming with people as about 500 passengers got off the train at the same time. There was only about a dozen people getting the train to Nancy so I had the bike carriage to myself. This meant I could charge up my phones and battery on the seat opposite.

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Plenty of space for my bike and Travoy on the train to Nancy. The train reached Nancy within an hour and I was able to use a lift to change platforms and get the train for Strasbourg in plenty of time. But the train was stopped in Serrebourg for about 5 minutes as a disabled passenger got on and arrived in Strasbourg about a minute or two late. I now had less than 10 minutes to get the train to Basel so had to run to the nearest lift and then run again to the end of the train. I made it on board with a minute or two to spare. The disabled passenger was also on this train. How he got from one train to the other ahead of me I have no idea. He got off at Mulhouse along with another disabled passenger. As there was quite a drop between the train and the platform, the staff at Mulhouse had to use a hydraulic lift rather than a ramp to wheel the disabled passengers off the train. The whole operation took about 5 minutes or so but eventhough there was a queue of people waiting to get off, no-one seemed to mind waiting.

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Basel train station. About 20 minutes after leaving Mulhouse, the train pulled into Basel. There were armed police at the customs desk in Basel train station but they didn’t seem to be stopping anyone and I was waved through. After being stuck in 3 trains all day, it was great to get out into the open air.

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Town square opposite Basel train station. It was now about 7.30 and at 9, Switzerland were due to play France in Euro 2016. But none of the cafes in Basel were advertising the game and most of them didn’t even seem to have a TV let alone a big screen. There is a campsite in Basel beside the River Rhine but it meant I would have to go north so I decided instead to head south for about 15 km to Camping Waldhort in Reinach as it was not too late.

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View of the southern stand in Saint Jakob Park. My route took me past the Saint Jakob Park in the suburbs of Basel where exactly a month previously Liverpool had lost 3-1 to Sevilla in the UEFA Cup final. The Saint Jakob Park has to be the ugliest stadium I have ever come across and I am sure any Liverpool fans who were at the game would have felt the same.

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Spanish and Swiss flags outside an apartment in Reinach. About an hour after leaving the Saint Jakob Park, I made it to Camping Waldhort. The campsite is not that well signposted and I ended up going further than I needed too. But my detour meant I came across a house with a Swiss flag. The apartment also had a Spanish flag so perhaps this was a mixed Spanish – Swiss household. But it shows how little interest there in Switzerland for Euro 2016 that this was the only house with a flag outside it that I saw all evening. What makes this even more extraordinary is that Basel is the hot-bed of football in Switzerland. Their team play in the same colors as Barcelona all because the founder of FC Barcelona, Juan Gamper was originally from Basel. Their team famously knocked Man United out of Europe in Alex Ferguson’s last year as manager. I am sure there were a few players from FC Basel in the national team but you wouldn’t know that Switzerland had qualified for and were competing in Euro 2016 just by visiting Basel.

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Total cycled this evening – 15 km. Total cycled so far – 80 km.  At €22, Camping Waldhort was the most expensive campsite I stayed at on this year’s Tour de Travoy. The campsite was a bit cramped but pitches were very well maintained and the facilities were top notch. However, there were no power points near the section for tents so I didn’t bother trying to tune in the game between France and Switzerland.. Just as well as there were few chances and the game ended up finishing 0-0.

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