Thursday, October 29, 2009

Saturday September 6th - Luxembourg

I awoke to hotel breakfast at 7am, which was a huge and very tasty feast of pastries, breads, jams, yoghurt, two poached eggs, assorted charcuterie, orange juice and tea. I left absolutely stuffed.

I headed out of Malmedy towards St Vith and it quickly became clear it was one of those days. The ones where it feels like you're carrying an extra bag of rocks but you can't figure out why. (although looking back, it may have been breakfast related). It also happened to be uphill, not an easy start to the day.

It was a cold misty one - well, more like a cold white cloud blanket. It almost felt like the kind of cloud that gives way to snow (but not cold enough). I held out hope that it was one of those mists where the sun breaks through and it all goes away but it took two hours for that to happen, it didn't last long and the air remained cold.

Misty morning

I arrived at St Vith and realised I was into German speaking territory. But that's OK - I can just about cope with simple German.

I stopped at a bakery, pointed at a tasty looking chocolatey pastry thing and asked what it was. She replied to the effect that it was some kind of chocolatey pastry thing. Yum. I asked for one, but somehow she took that to mean I wanted six and started to fill a large paper bag with pastry after delicious pastry. I attempted to correct the mistake "Nein, nein, ich mochte EIN, nicht sechs" (or something like that) but she took 'one' to mean 'one more' and I ended up with seven. Again I tried to ask for just one but ended up with yet another. I had eight chocolate pastries, and my German wasn't good enough to explain the error. Fortunately another customer saw the problem, explained to the assistant and I left with my single pastry.

After St Vith the N-road I was following got a lot busier and there was no cycle path. I took the turn off to Thommen and a pleasant detour via Burg-Reuland and the Ouren valley.

Stripy forest

The valley delayed my entry into Luxembourg ever so slightly but it was worth it for the quiet roads, lush forests and pancake house, and since I have developed a strict policy of never looking a pancake house in the mouth, it was compulsory to stop. I ate my sugar & butter pancake in Belgium with Germany just across the Our river to my left and Luxembourg about a kilometre to the right.

I started a long hard climb out of the valley towards the border. It was only a single gradient arrow on my Michelin map, which is normally fine, (4-7%) but it seemed a lot steeper than that. A pack of roadies passed me on the way up and I wondered whether, to an outside observer, it looked as if i was with them and carrying all their stuff! I had to stop several times and, although they were lighter and faster, I could see it was tough on them too. Apart from maybe the guy who turned around at the top of the hill, rode back down and overtook me for a second time.

At the top I passed an EU flag by a church- that may have been the border but it wasn't clear.

I carried on towards Clervaux. The landscape seemed quite English in many ways - hilly with grassy fields, cows grazing, some arable land with rolls of hay, dots of forest here and there, but a lot more wind turbines.


Doubts about the trip re-entered my mind at Clervaux, mostly due to being both cold and frustrated with my own lack of fitness. Clervaux had a railway station which I considered using, but decided I wasn't prepared to give up just yet. My third-day blues had extended well beyond the third day but I was determined to shake them off and give it at least a week. I carried on up the hill out of town and over into the Clerve valley. The valley was relatively flat, as valleys often are, and in my frustration I found some power in my thighs and made good progress to Wilwerwiltz where I camped by the river and ate bread, stinky cheese, herring salad and kiwi for dinner.

Distance: 44 miles (total 260 miles) • Day 6 RouteDay 6 Photos

1 comment:

Pete said...

I would have left with all 8 pastries!