Quiet but not peaceful

After 20 countries we have to admit that sometimes places merge and we have to stop and think where we are. This week being in the “Little Switzerland” region of Luxembourg has been a tad confusing, as we never made Switzerland we will take it as a taster version.

We are both surprised at Luxembourg, it has been nothing that we expected. We thought such a small country would be very cramped with little outdoor space. We couldn’t have been further wrong, it’s like driving around one big parkland with the odd small village or town slotted in.  Whilst we have seen more than our fair share of forests in the last year we have never seen so many broad leaf woods. Hardly a pine or conifer in sight and being autumn the trees are magnificent it really felt as remote as Scandinavia as we drove up the German border.

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The benches come in big sizes here

As we drove through we were passing walking trails all the way, the forecast was for sunshine so we stopped for two nights at Kohnenhof so we could get out and do some walking.  Of course it rained fairly solidly all day, despite that we followed a trail up through the forests and then back down along the river. It pleases our sense of the adventure that we crossed over and back from Germany on the river footbridges twice, not even a sign that its a new country.

Language gets more confusing here all the time, we go into a shop and speak French, they respond in German – so we try a bit of German and they go to French! It seems natural to the people here to talk in both languages, we are now encountering more Dutch mixed in too. There is also a language called Luxembourgish, a French version of German but it seems not many people use that one – thankfully.

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He stayed dry

Our last stop in Luxembourg has been Clervaux another postcard setting with a castle, historic church and even an Abbey on the hill. We rolled in Saturday morning looking for the crowds, nope just us then. Car-parks empty, hardly a soul around, Luxembourg feels deserted, it may be out of season but even so we have not seen a country this quiet before. The town centre consists of several shops, four good sized hotels and river running through. Anywhere else this would be a tourist magnet but for some reason not here.

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Clervaux

The castle, as with pretty much everything in Luxembourg, was destroyed during the Battle of the Bulge, now fully restored it houses the museum of the Battle of the Bulge, more a collection of thousands of war artifacts from guns and uniforms to cigarette tins and pieces of old crates. As with most of the country they have a U.S. Sherman tank that participated in WWII and a German 88 anti-aircraft gun, both  outside the castle walls.

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The combined ticket also took us into the model castle exhibition. A 1:100 model of every one of the 15 castles in Luxembourg including the surrounding villages,  they are well done but have to say after the third or fourth it felt like groundhog day.

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Every town and village has a tank they are rightly proud of

The castle towers house the world famous “Family of Man” photographic exhibition. First shown in 1955 in New York, it then toured the world for eight years, having shows in 37 countries and being seen by more than 9 million people.  The photographs focus on the shared  features of mankind and humanism, with over 500 photos it is a lot to take in, some sad, some funny and many thought provoking. We spent an hour walking through but could easily have spent a day to really see every photograph properly.

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from The Family of Man – one of my favourites

This morning dawned bright blue skies so we set off to for the Benedictine Abbey of St. Maurice on the hill above the town. The Neo-Romanesque structure was built in 1910 but looks much older, a footpath winds it way up through the trees and after half an hour we were at the gates. We arrived just as one of their services was finishing, from outside the church we could just hear the gentle singing of the monks, perfect voices in a perfect setting.

There was a small exhibition area we were allowed to visit which showed photographs of how the monks live such as one on a tractor, another on a computer etc. Other than that there was no admittance to the abbey as the monks live a very secluded life. They do make a slight exception from their retiring lives and open their gift shops for an hour a day 🙂 commerce doesn’t stop for even a Benedictine Monk.

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Church Saints Cosmas and Damian

As we are being blessed with a few days of Indian summer we have stayed put for the weekend, on an amazing little campsite just on the edge of town. Everything we need plus a pitch the size of our garden and joy of joys a washing machine and dryer – never realised how much I would miss our washing machine. Most weeks we do a hand-wash but as the budget looks good went mad and did two loads in the machine – woohoo.

We have spent the rest afternoon sat in the sunshine listening to the hundreds of motorbikes roaring around the country lanes vying for attention with the constant bell ringing every 15 minutes at the town church and the Abbey getting in on the act every half hour.  Sunshine forecast well into next week so the plan is to work out a plan to see as much as Belgium as we can before we head home.

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Relaxing reading for the final push North 🙂

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15 thoughts on “Quiet but not peaceful

  1. Ha, yes, that Indian summer, great! Pity we have no time now to go mohoing, too many things booked for the weekends: meeting friends, party with work and charity lunch etc… And worked in the garden;-(
    Wish you e great Belgian tour!

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  2. I can’t believe your gap year is nearly over, what am I going to do without your blog? It kept me going during my traveless winter. It’s been both a source of inspiration and a kind of security blanket reassuring me I’m not totally mad to be doing this and giving me courage, especially reading about you overcoming your fears of heights etc.
    What are you going to do? Are you all travelled and blogged out or will there be more travel and blog in the future?
    xxx

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    • nowhere near travelled out 🙂 just need to get to work for a while to save for the next trip, probably 2017, wow that sounds a long time but it will hear before we know it! ) x

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  3. Well guys, as your ‘current’ travels draw to a close, and I will miss your excellent travel blog, it means that our time here is coming to a close and we can get some of that Winter Sunshine at long last 😎 Safe travels home you two 👍

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    • Not quite sure what WordPress are playing at just recently. If you hadn’t already realised that last comment was from the one and only ‘Bigmomma’ 😉

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  4. 2015’s Eurotour isn’t even completed as yet……but 2016 pre planning has already started ……
    The Motherland (Wales) will be pretty high on the agenda, of course, along with, at least, a few days in Scotland. We might even manage a quickie or two somewhere in England too. 2014 saw us away in the UK quite regularly, on my “road to recovery”.

    However, looking at the first drafts of our 12 months budget to date, methinks it would probably be quite a lot cheaper to have another non uk tour (don’t tell Sandra I said that!) – dunno if Dora would be too happy with the thought of more Romanian roads though *smile*
    We certainly hope all our followers and new found friends will continue to enjoy travelling with us…
    Iain

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  5. Thinking back to the last time I visited Luxembourg … a service area on the motorway on the way back from Germany! Apparently, all the coach and truck drivers stop there, because Luxembourg (has/had??) the cheapest fuel in Europe.

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  6. It certainly looks wonderful and I love the idea of Luxembourgish language: having learnt French in school for 8 years and self-taught German, I think I’d like to give it a go; it sounds like fun anyway. Sadley, we only travelled through Luxembourg on our way from Germany to France 3 years ago, but I think after reading this, I’d like to spend a bit of time enjoying all those lovely sights. Thank you for sharing and happy journey back home. 🙂

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