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Luxembourg is for Lovers

Riana Lagarde

Luxembourg is for land loving motorcyclists and hand-locked landlocked lovers on winding roads through lush dense forests, full of morel mushrooms. I just knew it, I could tell by the bark and decomposing leaves. The terrain is mostly gently rolling uplands with broad, shallow valleys; highlands slightly mountainous in the north; steep slopes down to Moselle flood plain in the southeast which is a veritable wine producing region.

We had been driving in circles for an hour in the hilly northern area of the Ardennes after a nice lunch stop in Wiltz, where we dined in a local restaurant on the precipitous slope perched above the valleys below.

After mutually deciding not to pull over in the military zone that bordered Belgium, we found a nice green, grassy area to park and hike into the forest. No, I didn't find any mushrooms, but instead beautiful mini yellow orchids, and purple cone flowers and fallen limbs covered with moss. The light filtered in from the ceiling canopy. I took a nap while Benji read and I had dreams of rocks and towers and I could hear the river in the distance. The energy was very high and healing.

There are also the typical European castles and fortresses and steep rocky cliffs for hiking in Luxembourg. We stopped at a few of the roadside attractions but they were overrun with tourists and bands and bands of motorcyclists dressed in their black leather chaps, some with red leather head to toe, including their bike. I noticed that a map was duct taped to the top of the gas tank for easy viewing while riding.

I can see why they come in droves here, mostly from Germany judging by the outfits and the license plates. The narrow roads are windy, curvy, lined with verdant green pastures filled with cows and bordered with giant old trees: a dream for motorcycle enthusiasts. I doubt that there is a speed limit and the signs are in German and French. At the parking garage in Luxembourg City, the toll booth sign said "Bitte, ticket" and then when we slide the ticket into the machine it prompted the display to read "Merci, au revoir". How did that machine know that we were French?

The capitol city is 5km from the French border. You pass a now defunct border control building and follow the freeway into Luxembourg City, into a sharply declining tunnel and up to the old Bock, a castle built in the 900's with catacombs underneath that now serve as a nice bomb shelter.

We have a pretty heavy map collection in the car. The glove box won't hold them anymore so they are in the sides of the both doors, completely full, but not a single one of Luxembourg. I printed out one on the internet; since its such a small country, I figured that we could use that. Luxembourg is about 65 km to the far north and 40km wide. It is slightly smaller than Rhode Island. We stopped at a farmers market and they were giving away maps (mug shots of political candidates on the back) with the surrounding area which became helpful later on when we were not really sure if we were in Belgium or not. But neither are they, since it lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839. And most of their current country statistics include Belgium like "land use: 75 percent including Belgium", so I guess they still use Belgium's land?

In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union) and in 1999 it joined the euro currency area. With the EU now, they really don't have signs for country changes, so when you leave Luxembourg you just notice that the license plates are more red and white rather than yellow and that gas is rather expensive again.

Another reason for the motorcycles; gas is a full 25 cents less per liter. That's a dollar less a gallon! If it wasn't four hours away from where we live, we would go every week.

Photos

Here are links to pictures:
www.luxembourg.co.uk/citypics.html
www.luxembourg.co.uk/bourscheid.html
www.luxembourg.co.uk/countrypics.html


Riana Lagarde is an American living in France. frenchtoastfrance.blogspot.com

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