Hello from Luxembourg! Country number 15 of the trip, and mostly new to both of us (although I did step cross the border on a school trip GOODNESS KNOWS how long ago, and we did spend a day riding along the Luxembourgish(??) side of the river Moselle with Jenny B on another wonderful cycle tour somewhat more recently). We’ve spent our rest day exploring beautiful Luxembourg City, and feeling very confused about what language anyone speaks, as at least two seem to be in use at any one time (eg in the bakery where half the products were labelled in French and half in German). I’m opting for French as it’s a whoooole lot better than my German, and it seems more polite that defaulting to English (although they all seem to speak that perfectly as well, bien sur).
The rest of the day has been spent in a mammoth planning session. We’re usually content to have a rough idea where we’re going, and a better idea of the next day or two but, now that home is so very nearly on the horizon, I am just not quite content with the ‘pretty much winging it’ approach any more! So google has been put to very good use, finding campsites and distances between here and Dunkirk, where we expect to be in (roughly approximately possibly) around TWO WEEKS from now!
More about that later. We have sooooo much to catch up on!
When I last wrote, we’d just crossed the Alps via the Gotthard Pass and had started our ride through Switzerland. I hadn’t quite twigged when I wrote the post, but the pass really did present us with a turning point. Since then, things have been different….and by this, I mean it all feels a lot more like the good old UK!! Gone is the sweltering heat of Italy, which we’d
endured enjoyed since touching down in mid-July. While the skies have remained sunny (and long may this last) things have been a touch cooler, with the nights getting downright chilly, prompting purchase of – I kid you not – a small duvet. Problem solved, although every morning we awake to heavy dew and dense condensation on the inside of the tent’s fly sheet, which is all a bit of a pain and certainly not helping our current mould problem. Aside from the change in geography, we felt a step-change in the seasons too. Goodbye summer, hello autumn, Ed’s favourite season! If it wasn’t all darn pretty enough, the autumn colours are an absolute treat.
After my last post, we continued heading north through Switzerland which was less dramatic than the Alpine region but actually offered better cycling. I guess the mountains tend to squash roads, railways and cycle paths into the narrow valleys, which can make things far from tranquil! Once we emerged into the more gently rolling terrain (which looked a lot like Devon!) we were treated to quiet backroads and very few cars, which was quite the relief.
Switzerland is famed for its expense, but somehow we managed not to break the bank, with a combination of off-season campsite fees and budget supermarkets (AKA a lot of pasta!) saving the day. That said, we entered affordable France with a sigh of relief! You’re lucky if you manage to spend 15 euros on a campsite, with the cheapest tipping the scales are more like 10, by far the cheapest accommodation we’ve seen for quite a while! Food prices are so reasonable that we were no longer hanging out for Lidl, and still had change to spare to treat ourselves to the odd bottle of wine. Oh and plenty of delicious fresh bread. And butter. A silver lining of the cooler weather is certainly the ability to store dairy products for more than about half an hour!
We cycled through Alsace – a region that we only knew for its wine. Obviously we drank plenty of that 😉 but also absolutely loved the pretty villages and bucolic scenery. Highly recommended!
We may have cooked Raclette on the camping stove as a fitting farewell on our last night in France…..then it was across the border to Germany….for about 24 hours! Fortunately we’ve spent plenty of time in this lovely country on other occasions, so didn’t feel too cheated.
Confusingly (for us as well as you, dear readers!) we then spent another night in France before crossing into Luxembourg. We’re feeling very European, if slightly unsure precisely which country we’re in a lot of the time…..
Soooo……where next?!? We’ve been following the ‘Eurovelo 5’ route since we entered Switzerland, but that now cuts through Belgium via Brussels…… We’ve spent plenty of time in Brussels and are very keen to ‘pop’ into the cycling Mecca of Holland…. So it’s time to go our own way once again! We’ll head North through Luxembourg for a couple of days, then Belgium, Holland, Belgium, Holland again, Belgium AGAIN, and then FRANCE for one last time….. Are you keeping up?!
We’re pretty excited because both Belgium and Holland offer LEGAL wild camping opportunities. I’m too square to feel comfortable breaking the rules (wild camping is usually illegal, although pretty easy to get away with) but do enjoy a more rustic camping experience as much as my husband….well maybe not THAT much but it should be good!! We’re also still thoroughly enjoying our slow journey across the blurred borders between European countries – BUT HANG ON A MINUTE – I have a whole other blog post planned on that topic so I’m afraid you’ll have to wait 🙂
Some of my dearest friends and relatives (you know who you are!) have been asking me for an ETA for our arrival in Devon for about the last six months….well, thanks for the aforementioned planning session, I am finally in a position to give one! Caveat – no allowance has been made for inclement weather / illness / other disasters / changes of plan, all being well we might just roll into Sidmouth around the 31st October….but please don’t hold me to that…..