Friday, 6 July 2007


My last set of border photos for the day are from the towns of Kerkrade (Netherlands) and Herzogenrath (Germany), where the border runs up the middle of one of the streets - quite innocuously with no significant sign that there is a border here. At the end of my trip I encountered a very pleasant and interesting surprise that I had not expected.

Read on.

First the obligatory map - the red line shows the border and the places where I took some photos are marked as 1 and 2. It was getting quite late now and I still had to get on to Düsseldorf for an early flight to London the next morning so I didn't stop to take photos in between these two spots.

This photo is looking north along the divided road, Netherlands on the left, Germany on the right. It seems to have changed somewhat from previous photos I had seen of the area - something I was to feel as I failed to recognise much of where I then drove.

This video starts looking West North West, pretty much along the border line. I'm not sure if the houses to the left (south) of the street would be in the Netherlands or Germany.

Some more views of the area - note the white and blue street signs in Dutch and German.

I then drove to point 2 which is where the border leaves the centre of the road. I noticed that the road had been significantly changed from previous photos that I had seen with "traffic calming" islands placed along the sides of the road alternating from the Dutch to the German side thereby causing traffic along the street to constantly zig-zag back and forth between the Netherlands and Germany - true multinationalism at work here.

I was using an older German map rather than the Dutch map I have provided here, and this did not have the roundabout we see here marked on it. So, needless to say, this was a huge surprise for me - and what was the other side of the roundabout was an even bigger, and most pleasant, surprise.

Beyond the roundabout is the Eurode Centre - an office complex that straddles the border. I drove (anti-clockwise) around the building and noticed the border signs as I re-entered the Netherlands at the back of the building. So, where the bi-national road had previously petered out somewhat ignominiously, the opportunity had been taken to construct a most imaginative complex that enables companies to take advantage of the border line in many ways.

This is the front entrance - the border runs between the two doors - there is a Dutch mailbox on the left and a German one on the right.

I took a few more photos of the area - I am standing here on the northwest corner of the roundabout looking south.

German sign as the road heads off to the north east

On the Dutch side of the road the Dutch name is on the top:

and on the German side of the road, the German name is on the top.

OK - that was pretty much it. I still wanted to find one geocache in the Netherlands - and there was one in Kerkrade fortunately (albeit a rather lame micro) and to drive along the former N274 Dutch road that crosses a small bit of Germany and used to be completely separated from the German road system. I did so - there are now roundabouts joining it to the German road system since it reverted to German control in 2002 - but it was now getting really late so no photos. Then I headed off to my hotel in Düsseldorf enjoying the empty A46 where I was able legally to hit over 200km/h in places.

Neutral Moresnet - and some older Burgundian borders

Now it was time to visit the former Neutral Moresnet and seek out some border markers. My original plan included only the border markers of Neutral Moresnet itself, however I found myself also investigating a few older border markers that date back to the Burgundian/Prussian days.

First a map with the numbers indicating various key spots on my tour. The blue and red lines roughly mark the route that I walked while exploring the hinterland (blue outbound, red inbound) following the well thought out directions provided by the creator of this geocache.

Before we start you might like to take a look at this excellent website about the bordermarkers of Neutral Moresnet - following various links from there will take you to all sorts of other interesting places too :) - but do come back here please...

As I drove down the hill from the BEDENL tripoint I stopped to try and find my first Neutral Moresnet border marker around point number 1 on my map above. The map indicated that it should be fairly close to the road. I was not successful, however I did find the following:

This appears to be an old Burgundian marker - something that I did not realise until later in my expedition when I found some others and thus recognised the style.

The side with the writing:

the back side:

also in the area was another marker (and again I found other similar ones later on) but it had no visible inscriptions and so I am still puzzled as to what it is actually signifying. You can see the marker from the pictures above in the background of the picture, which I took deliberately so as to show both of these markers in relation to each other.

a close up shot - perhaps someone can make out a man made pattern here that indicates something?

Anyway, my main goal today was to visit a few markers that had been used as key points for a geocache called Klenkes 2005 - Grenzsteine - this was a multi that required about a 6.5 km walk around the Neutral Moresnet hinterland and so I decided to use it as my guide for the day.

I parked my car at the point marked number 2 on my map and proceeded to cross the territory towards point number 3. As I approached point number 3 I took this video of the surroundings. By the way - I would be really grateful if someone could let me know if I have pronounced Moresnet correctly - I assumed that the French pronunciation (silent "t" for example) would not be correct but it would be nice to hear from SWK ("someone who knows") - thanks.

Moving north up the trail from point number 3 I encountered my first border marker, number 51 (marked in Roman numerals - LI). Sadly some moron had defaced it - this was not the first time I would see this type of thing regrettably.

Proceeding further north I passed spots where the map indicated there should be other border markers, however they were not immediately evident and I didn't have time or energy to go scrabbling through the undergrowth to look for them. I will leave that for another day, and hopefully can find someone who has exact GPS coordinates for them to make the search easier.

This photo is looking north along the border at point number 4 on my map. The geocache instructions said to follow the path as it forks to the left here - upon some investigation I discovered not only that this was an easier path, but also that there was a notice (obscured by the first bush just to the right of the track in this photo) indicating that no foot traffic was permitted along the border track. Should anyone have challenged me I could have claimed that I had not seen it since it was so well obscured, however, I knew the whole walk would be long enough, and it was already 1715, that I decided to opt for the easier route.

The next marker I found was number 44. This exemplifies really well the unusual style of Roman numerals used. Whereas it would be more common to denote this LXIV, instead the (older) XXXXIIII version is used (complete sideline - you will usually see the IIII version on clock faces as well - see this website from the British Horological Institute for some information on this). This was at the point where my path bent back to the left, a short distance south of point number 5 on my map.

Moving further up the trail I found border marker 41 near point number 5 on my map - more desecration unfortunately.

...and a video of the area:

A short way further north is border marker 40 - it is very difficult to read the numbers on this one as they are so faded.

Next stop is border marker number 37 (I could not spot any of the intervening ones easily). This is at the conjunction of this north-south track and another one that crosses it on a diagonal and which marks the former Burgundian border of 1439. (Point 6 on my map). We shall be heading south-east (uphill) along that track next.

More graffiti I'm afraid - what is it that is so appealing about spoiling things?

The video shows the conjunction of the two border lines quite well I think. If one could condense history I suppose one could call this a tripoint of sorts. The video starts looking northwards and the first view along the Burgundian border path (I say "looking down". but it is actually uphill) is, therefore, to the south east.

Now to head away from Neutral Moresnet towards point 7 on my map. On the way to point 7 we encounter this Burgundian marker partly surrounded by a tree.

This video starts looking north-west, along the trail up which I had just walked from point 6 on my map.

Moving further south-east we reach point 7 where there is another Burgundian marker

This marker is at the conjunction of two paths and there are some more of those unidentified posts around as can be seen in this video.

The geocache instructions had me continue south-east further along this path to collect more information from one of the small memorials that abound in this area in order to calculate the final location of the cache. While there I saw (but did not photograph) some more of those unidentified posts although I didn't see any more clearly identified Burgundian markers along the way. The route I was supposed to take would have returned me the short way back to my car, picking up the cache on the way, but I had omitted to collect some info from the first Burgundian marker and my photos were not sufficiently clear when displayed on my camera screen for me to obtain them that way. So I retraced my steps (red line on my map), crossing the Neutral Moresnet territory again and started to look for the cache near the western border. I was feeling pretty tired by now and failed to find the cache itself (although I have been informed since that it IS there!!) but I did find border marker number 18 instead - so that was a bonus. This is at point 8 on my map.

This view is looking north-ish along the borderline - Neutral Moresnet on the right, Belgium on the left. The marker is in the bottom right hand part of the picture.

Somewhat dejectedly (having failed to find the cache - but now I have another excuse to return some day!!) I headed back to my car and drove into the town of Kelmis (or La Calamine in French) to locate the first and last markers, which are on the main N3 road.

First, to the south west of the town, marker number 1 (point 9 on my map). By the marker, which is on the north side of the road, is this board. I'm not sure whether it is trying to tell me that there is any kind of official tourist location for seeking the stones, I think, however, that it is trying discourage trespass down the track beside marker number (which leads away from the border at any rate)

Marker number 1 - looking north west

The marker and the notice board:

another angle, taken from the other side of the (quite busy) road.

...and a video to put it all in perspective (my comentary says a 360° sweep which was my intention - but it's actually only about 180°):

Last stop is the final border marker, number 60 (LX) - to the north east along the main N3, in a more urban setting:

Another notice board:

and finally a few shots of the stone itself. Interestingly THIS stone is on the south side of the road (something I had not expected even though I had seen photos of it on other websites), whereas the stone number 1 is on the north side of the road. So, somewhere along the line, either the border crossed the road, a stone got moved, or the road was realigned. Does anyone know which of these it is?

Looking south-westwards

Taken standing in front of the notice board:

Time now to head off for my last border adventure of the day - the divided street between the Netherlands and Germany in Kerkrade-Hertzogenrath (and a surprise, for me anyway, at the end).


My next stop was at the BEDENL tripoint. This must be one of the most visited tripoints around and is very commercialised which made it less interesting for me than most - however a visit was necessary just for my own personal satisfaction.

Getting there from Roetgen, however, was not as simple as it seemed since I determined from the map that I could approach from the German side. However, this was not to be so by car since the road leading there is barred and available only to cyclists and pedestrians. So I drove back into the outskirts of Aachen, through Vaals in the Netherlands and then, dutifully following Tom-Tom's instructions, back into Belgium to approach from that direction. Foolishly paying 2€ to park (it was only later that I noticed others had just parked for free at the sides of the approach roads) I wandered around, took a few photos and rewarded myself with an ice-cream!!

This video is making an entire circle around the tripoint marker (I do correct my last mistake on the audio, but it gets lost in the wind!):

The tripoint marker from the Dutch side

...from the Belgian side:

...from the German side - note the small triangle in the stones indicating the former Neutral Moresnet borders, sandwiched between the Belgian and German sections. It could be argued that there should have been a small Belgian sliver between it and the German part as well as the main Belgian section since the former Neutral Moresnet territory is, today, entirely surrounded by Belgium except for where it meets the Netherlands and Germany at this point. However that was not always the case - for more information see the Neutral Moresnet website.

Dutch marker number one - some people think this marks the highest point in the Netherlands but this site seems to disagree, although it is probably not that far away.

Not knowing what this was, but noticing that other people seemed to like having their picture taken here, I snapped this one. It appears to be celebrating the EUREGIO initiative in the area. It is located on Dutch territory here.

Now on to some more challenging border hunting - the border stones of Neutral Moresnet (and a few others).

Vennbahn: Roetgen

After Lammersdorf I took a slight detour to find some caches in the woods north of the town making a loop around on my way to Roetgen.

First the obligatory map:

The first cache on the Vennbahn in Roetgen is actually at a point where a track, which is now a cycle trail (there are many cycle trails around here - it is a wonderful area for cycling - and it's all so organised!!) crosses the railway in the middle of the woods - Bahnübergang Rackeschweg.

Looking south along the tracks:

Looking north along the tracks:

Approaching the tracks along the trail from the north west (i.e. looking south east)

and a short video of the crossing area:

Now back into the car to investigate the numerous places where the tracks cross the residential streets in Roetgen:

This is the Bahnübergang Wilhelmstraße:

Looking south east:

A border marker - on the north side of the road, east side of the tracks - photo looking south east:

Same marker - looking north east along the road:

and a video of the whole area

At this point I was starting to feel the need to check my e-mail, especially as I had not been able to do so in the hotel the previous evening. Being in a residential area I figured there was a pretty good chance someone had an unsecured wireless network so I spent more time than I should driving up and down trying to find one, but all to no avail.

Anyway, after finding a geocache at the Grünepleistraße crossing and another one a short distance away I headed over to the Kalfstraße crossing. There was another geocache here which, as it turned out, was my 1000th geocache find. I had not realised it at the time but I'm glad it turned out to be one of the Vennbahn caches and not the previous one, which was not a Vennbahn one and was really rather tame! I took another short video here. A local resident came out and asked me what I was doing taking photos - I explained in my broken German that I was interested in the Vennbahn and the fact that it was a bit of Belgium in Germany. This seemed to satisfy him that at least I had no evil intent although I think he went away shaking his head a bit at someone actually having such a strange interest in something that to him was part of everyday life and probably didn't affect him one iota.

The next three crossings I visited (a geocache at each) were really more of the same and so I didn't take any photos there. But the one after that was a surprise - Offermannstraße - this was a bridge and not a level crossing - the cache there had advertised it as a Bahnübergang.

I took this video here:

Around the corner was another bridge at Mühlenbendstraße:

This picture is looking east, from the west side of the bridge:

This is looking west from the east side:

and a video from on top of the bridge:

Time now to head round the corner to the last level crossing in this area of residential Roetgen, a particularly interesting spot as Mühlenstraße runs right along the border with Belgium, the houses on one side being in Belgium and the road itself being in Germany.

Just before (i.e. to the west) of the level crossing was this boundary marker (on the north side of the road:

This is taken on the level crossing itself, looking north.

I then walked a short way back down Mühlenstraße to the west and took a couple more photos of the border markers right at the edge of the road:

and finally a video:

I then drove out onto the B258 in the centre of town which, at this time of day, was really busy. As the time was getting on and I still wanted to visit BEDENL, Neutral Moresnet and a couple of other places before getting to Düsseldorf, I elected not to investigate the area closely even though the border here is pretty interesting. That will have to wait for another day.

Heading north up the B258 my final Vennbahn stop was at Himmelsleiter where the Vennbahn makes its northernmost crossing of a German road.

This photo is looking northwards along the B258 away from Roetgen:

And finally one last video of the Vennbahn for today:

Next stop - the BEDENL tripoint.