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European Voices -the Freedom of Movement Tour part 4 – Trans Europe Express

It’s part four of our coverage of the Freedom of Movement tour with Chiara Ginestra and Alexander Colling who travelling across Europe on bicycle to discover the wonderful right of  freedom of movement within the European Union. Don’t forget to follow them on their Facebook page , Tumblr and their Twitter handle.

We enjoyed a flat ride to Brussels from Ghent, mainly along canal paths and with excellent segregated cycling paths along the roads. In Brussels we were welcomed by Fulcieri, a true European, who has been living and working across the continent his whole life. We were invited to join some Lib Dem members for dinner and we were given these amazing stickers:

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After Brussels we cycled east to Ham in Limburg. It was a beautiful day and an even more beautiful ride with many paths leading us through woods and fields and past canals

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We found ourselves covered in a soup of pollen, which created a pretty but clogging work of art on various parts of our bikes and luggage.

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We arrived in Ham to a generous welcome from Renée, Arne, their two boys and their two fluffy cats. And after being interviewed by the local press we were treated to a classic Belgian dish of stewed meat and fries.

Pedal pulse

We needed it… The next day was a big cycle to a village past Aachen. The weather held out, we made good progress and we’re greeted by Iris from the the Pulse of Europe who cooked a German dinner for us. The next day we met Arne, also from the Pulse of Europe group, and had a little tour around Aachen. We were provided with numerous stickers, which we will be giving out over the next few weeks:

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Our cycle to Köln was under showers, some heavy, which we mostly managed to dodge. Gavin and Nathalie welcomed us into their home and we experienced some local culture before heading to bed. It was great talking about our shared experiences of Europe and what it means today. Gavin writes for the New European, well worth a read.

Leipzig by rail

Germany is wide. This led us to take a train from Köln to Leipzig, where is was relieving to see another familiar face. While we feel we may be cheating, we simply don’t have the time to cycle the whole length of this trip. On our rest days we try to take a train to keep up with our average number of days allowed per country: 6.3.

The last week has been enriching. We have connected with people who were motivated to offer their homes, meals, laundry facilities, time and attention in support of our trip. It has given us such encouragement, especially at times when we have struggled to keep going due to problems with the bikes, health, phones and food. It has been interesting beyond measure to share stories, thoughts and concerns about Europe, Brexit and beyond. Thank you Fulcieri and Marion, Renée and Arne, Iris, Gavin and Nathalie and Laura. We feel so fortunate to have met you all and to hear what Europe means to you. Meeting you is exactly what Europe means to us.

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