Luxembourg City turns out to be rather lovely. Struggled to get out as Julie’s back had seized up, no doubt from too much pushing the bike up steep hills. Ventured out for a slow walk around the city after Duncan’s work.
Lots of greenery due to main gorge running right through it and not many tourists. It’s a working city with multi nationalities. Duncan said he could work there! Turns out they make great coffee and it’s cheaper than France. English is used widely – you can hear conversations between different nationalities in English.
We found a great little wine bar – while you are having a drink you can help yourself to free nibbles – bread, cheese, olives, ham etc., we can see people taking advantage of this. We decided to have a curry instead as it’s been a long while. Too much food as always.
Left our hotel at 10am. It was raining most of the night so we were lucky it stopped for our departure. Our hotel was in an upmarket neighbourhood just around the corner from the British Embassy and in a quiet location away from the road on top of the cliffs. The bed was good and the room very comfortable but it was over the entrance and so we were woken every time someone arrived, or went outside for a smoke. No air con of course so windows were open. Got virtually no sleep. So, most expensive hotel, worst meal, no sleep quality.
Here is the route today – not quite as many hills as the last ride but still quite a rise.
Luxembourg is obviously a wealthy country. It’s smart, tidy, great roads and practically every town and village has new houses and apartment blocks going up. The cars are all expensive. The shops are upmarket. Even the cows have collars on in the fields!
Then the border crossing into Belgium. Again, it’s hard to imagine that crossing on these odd side roads and bike routes that the contrast between two countries can be so great. France to Germany was staggering but this one was just shocking in every respect. We cycled down through a beautiful little village, through a field and then turn onto the main road. Bang, we’re in Belgium. The speed limit is 120kph, the road has a lane, not a cycle path, which ran out after three kms, there are no road direction signs at all. The next four kms has three half derelict hotels, two nightclubs, Cabaret clubs, bars, casino and strip climb, all totally run down. A leftover from the old border.
Soon after the cycle lane runs out, the road is blocked into two lanes with cones and it’s had its surface removed so you are left with the ridges. We had to ride 10 km on this. Luckily we were the other side of the cones as the trucks and cars sped by. There was absolutely nobody working on this whatsoever. Oh, and it’s all uphill.
We enter the town of Arlon. We diverted into here after getting an email from the accommodation we are booked into for the next two nights. It said “sorry, we are away, a neighbour will let you in – you can use the kitchen” – we booked this B&B last October. It’s remote so the owners were going to cook us a meal – all a slightly odd situation.
So, we parked the bikes at the supermarket and Julie stayed with them while Duncan picked up some supplies. This is not a wealthy area, in fact, the whole place is rather run down. As Julie sat waiting, she observed a man who was watching people smoking walking in to the supermarket. When they put their cigarettes out, he would go and pick them up, rub off the end and pocket the stub. He did this several times. Observed several people walk in and returning with just one can of beer. We see this all the time in Dunsborough and Busselton. Workmen buying a beer for their drive home, so it’s not unusual but hardly anyone was coming out with trolleys.
Julie has been saying since booking this trip that she doesn’t have high expectations for the east of Belgium. Not just from watching “The Break” a series set in the Ardenne where we are and where in the series there are quite a few murders, but about 20 years ago, Jeremy Clarkson made a TV series called “Meet the Neighbours”. The Belgians were the country where the majority of its population would have preferred to be born elsewhere!
Small memorial below, two small for the chairs inside.
We did have a rather good salad at the only restaurant we could find in Arlon – it was so busy we had to wait for a table. Between Arlon and Neufchateau, things started to improve. The roads got better (not the drivers) and the scenery improved. Duncan’s Route was mostly off the main road and through forests and small villages. luckily the hunting season doesn’t start for another month.
We arrived at our accommodation and the neighbour who we called with an hours notice met us. She didn’t really know what was going on other than to give us the key but she said the owners were Belgian and Peruvian and they had gone to Peru for a holiday.
We have the house to ourselves. It’s huge. Massive everything, sleeps 14. Lawns are so vast there are two robot lawnmowers. Had a huge spa bath, Duncan cooked pasta, watched TV on a huge screen in the movie room. The fridge is stocked full of cheese, meats, yogurts and there has been a three bag delivery from the bakery – we won’t starve. Not bad for €60 a night. Awesome.
Will venture into town via the 3 in 1 hill on foot tomorrow. Over and out ..