Bike Touring Journals by Neil Anderson and Sharon Anderson Dutch Treat Bicycle touring Luxembourg
Four Countries in One Day
A glorious day! We cycled in four countries in a single day! And we did it in just over one hundred kilometers. We started the morning with breakfast in France, then followed the little river for a comfortable morning ride in the warm sun. I bought groceries at the Mammouth in Longwy. It was the wrong thing to do on a Saturday morning before a long weekend. There were twenty cashiers and each line had a minimum of five people with overflowing buggies.
We crossed into Belgium and immediately noticed the pastel architecture was different. Buildings were pink, orange, powder blue.
Around noon we crossed into Luxembourg. In Rondange we found a small town park filled with flowers and benches. But there was no water, so I walked across the street to a house with an open front gate. A woman and her daughter appeared at the door. Holding out two jugs I asked for water. They brought me glass bottles of Evian water. Against my protests they proceeded to pour them into my jugs while explaining that normal water was no good. The woman said she was originally from Portugal but had moved to Luxembourg twenty years ago to find work. As I left, I thanked her in Portuguese, bringing a big smile to her face.
Sharon and I found a quiet bench in the back of the park and enjoyed Evian water mixed with grapefruit concentrate. Behind the fence, a dog kept a watchful eye on our progression. We exited through the back of the park, past the stadium (soccer of course, I hadn't seen a ball diamond since we left North America).
Heading east, in a short distance we re-entered France. There were no guards at the border crossing -- just an empty building. A sign on the road had gold European union stars in a circle with "France" in the middle. That was the only telltale that we were entering a different country.
A bewildering array of rural farm roads -- some one-lane - had me constantly checking the map. I wanted to make sure we didn't stray too far in the wrong direction. A tractor tried to overtake us on an uphill. Downhill we went supremely faster. A sign advised the road was barricaded in one kilometer. We took a detour and ended up on a rocky cart track. We were seeing a different part of France.
Back on the main road, ascending a long hill two young guys on mountain bikes passed us. We passed them on the downhill. Neither Sharon nor I shifted onto our large chain rings. On the flat they caught us. We weren't too hard -- we blocked a lot of wind -- making it relatively difficult to fall out of our slipstream. Once they were back in front, one guy held out his arms to air out his pits and began weaving back and forth while swinging his legs to and fro. We decided not to follow too closely. At the next town they turned left and we kept heading straight over the big hill. (We finished the day with over three thousand feet climbed.)
There were a surprising number of slum areas in the French towns along the Luxembourg and Belgium borders. Clothes hung from balconies. I had never seen that in France before. And there was an atypical amount of garbage in the ditches.
Near Berg sur Moselle we found a bike path. At first it was scenic along the river, but soon it went into an old industrial area that wasn't at all pretty. I didn't know why they put the bike path there. It would have been far more attractive if it had kept following the river.
We crossed into Germany, our fourth country that day, and followed the bike path alongside the Moselle River. I felt something hit my hat and looked around to see if someone had thrown something. I didn't see anyone.
"What's that on your hat?" Sharon asked. It was a great glob of gooey bird shit. Wasn't that supposed to be good luck? If it was, I should have been having gobs of it.
A gravel road intersected the bike path. We checked it out for possible camping and found it led to a swampy lake. While I was scouting a grass lane Sharon was being feasted upon by black flies. There were too many people around, so we went farther on the gravel road and got lost.
One lane roads ran through a maze of trout ponds linked together with No Fishing signs. Eventually, we found our way back to the bike path and continued. Numerous campers were on small lots facing the river. The railway (or whoever owned the strip of land between the railway and the river) rented it out to summer campers. The campers cut the grass, had a picnic table and a plastic house with plastic windows. Their "tents" were as large as a summer home.
We realized we weren't going to find a spot beside the populated riverbank, so we cut inland at Palzen and soon found a quiet forest. Or at least it was quiet until the carload of teenagers showed up with their pulsating rock music.
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