After our last trip to Scotland last September, we had no idea what the next trip would be for a few months. For many this will be a normal situation, but in recent years we have been so spoiled with holidays that this situation was completely new to us. Only mid-February we could plan something and it turned out that Elisabeth had a lot more days left than we had estimated. So immediately we started searching the internet and through a travel agency we quickly found a nice house in Luxembourg for a week: not too far away and in a country where we hadn not been to for a while.
When we drive into the village of Bigonville at 8 o'clock in the evening (just across the border with Belgium, at Martelange) the road is broken up and half closed. But the navigation brings us to the door on the broken road. The owner welcomes us enthusiastically and was already afraid that we would get lost. He explains us some things about the house (including the operation of the TV that we will never use all week) and then we are on ourselves. We get organized and then sit down with our books.
It is a 4-person house, a ground floor with living room, hall and toilet and an open kitchen with sitting room (see the photos) and 2 bedrooms. The house is full of antique objects and is quite cozy. This evening we sit down in the living room, but soon we move to the smaller room above that feels more comfortable. The rest of the week we stay in fact only upstairs, nice and lazy near the kitchen, the fridge, the food and the bedroom.
The owner has already preheated the cottage and against eleven we both start to yawn, we can not keep our eyes open anymore. Exasperating, such a first holiday. Or are we finally starting to relax? In any case, it is time to go to bed. A plan for what we are going to do tomorrow will be invented tomorrow morning, everything in its time! This should be a holiday vacation, not a race to see everything of the country.
Monday 12 March 2007, driving through the north of LuxembourgWe wake up late, with a bright sunshine outside. In the sun and out of the wind it is great to have breakfast on our balcony that runs around the house. Since this is mainly a holiday to rest, we are not in a hurry to set off and it is already afternoon when we finally get in the car for a round trip through the northwestern tip of Luxembourg. This area is part of the Oesling and is actually the Luxembourg Ardennes.
Wavy valleys bring us along the river Sûre to the reservoir Lac de la haute Sûre and the area around it is now a national park. On the photo the reservoir at Lultzhausen. In the sun the lake is beautiful, but still completely deserted. In the summer it will be different because there is a lot of water sports here.
Then we quickly arrive at Esch-sur-Sûre where we can easily park the car for free. It is still too cold to take the sweater off, but we see immediately that we will get warm from the walk, because the village is beautifully situated in a bowl with a rock at its center where a ruin is on top. Yes, up there, we have to go ...
In the village the road immediately ascends steeply and then we take a long staircase to the castle. But the view is more than worth the climb. Many Luxembourgers seem to find this the most beautiful village in the country, but the village itself is not very special, it is really the location and the nature around it that makes it all picturesque.
Actually, there are 2 summits above the village and on one of them are a 10th century castle and chapel, on the other a 15th century tower and a copy of the statue of Mary of Lourdes. We climbed the last summit, so we can not explore the ruins up close. And we are not going to climb another steep hill, this has been enough fitness training! But what a beautiful view.
Back below we see that hard work is being done to keep Luxembourg dog poo-free. And besides prohibition signs there are also cupboards with bags to clean up the mess in case you forgot to bring one. The bags are free of charge and can be found in many places in Luxembourg. In any case, it is a very clean country, which we have already noticed. Even now we see children eating sweets and putting the waste papers in their coat instead of just throwing them on the ground.Via Wiltz, which looks like a pretty big city (about 4500 inhabitants) we drive to Clervaux where it is time for a cup of coffee. In Esch-sur-Sûre everything was closed and in Wiltz we could not find a terrace, so we hope we can find a nice place here.
From a distance we already spot the parish church and the castle and also Clervaux seems like a decent city. Although no more than 2000 people live there. At the castle there are a few army tanks, as part of the war museum in the castle. The most important theme is obviously the Battle of the Bulge, one of the bloodiest of the Second World War in which the Germans made a final desperate attempt to stop the Allies. The offensive lasted 10 days, in December 2004 and many places, including Clervaux were badly damaged.
The catering industry also does not seem to expect tourists in Clervaux, but luckily a terrace has been set up in front of the entrance of the castle. We can take the sweater off, it's that warm, the first really warm day of the year and that in the first half of March! As far as we are concerned, it can stay like this the whole week.
The castle of Clervaux burned down completely in December 1944 but has been restored. Besides the war museum there is also an exhibition with scale models of more than 20 Luxembourg castles and the famous photo exhibition Family of Man. Edward Steichen, originally from Luxembourg, collected photographs from around the world with the theme 'Man'. The photos traveled around the world as an exhibition in the 1950s and are now housed here for good.Nearby you can also see an imposing abbey which, like the parish church, was designed by the Dutch architect J. Klomp in the beginning of the 20th century.
We go even further north and at Troisvierges (named after 3 virgins who died here in the 17th century) Elisabeth sees a log cabin that she wants to own right away. The problem is that we encounter in so many places such beautiful houses that we would like to have, very greedy indeed. But it has been our choice to spend our money on traveling to many countries instead of settling on one beautiful spot. Yet we continue to envy the people who live in such houses.
We are now in the northernmost point of Luxembourg, where the Ardennes, Oesling and the Eiffel merge and at the border triangle of Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany (a concrete pillar with the exact location is somewhere under the bridge) stands the Europe monument, which is intended to encourage all citizens to peaceful meet and cooperate. It was established in 1977, 20 years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome where the roots of the European Union lie. Coincidentally, the news was that due to all sorts of adversity the Treaty did not arrive in Rome in time and they eventually put a signature under a manuscript of 200 empty pages that were later completed.
We walk over the bridge a little longer, but we have no idea which country is where, that is not really made clear. We assume that we have been in 3 countries today. So we decide we have traveled enough for today and start to go back. We are not that far from home and within an hour we are back again, just before the twilight sets in.We have a wonderful quiet evening, no TV, no PC, no internet. Blissfully relax with a some great books and again we go to bed on time. In the coming days we will continue this routine: every day we try to see a piece of Luxembourg and never really get far.