Jan and I last tackled this journey in 2010 with some pals, one of whom spoke fluent German and took charge of all the arrangements. This time it was down to me to book the B & Bs so we stopped in Brussels, Luxembourg, Trier, Bernkastel-Kues, Cochem and Spay before getting the train back to Belgium with overnight stays in Liège, Leuven and Brussels before boarding Eurostar for our return to London on Sunday. I am writing this in Liège after an excellent meal with good beer and wine.
I hadn’t remembered exactly, and failed to check, the mileages between the overnight stops. Leaving Luxembourg was a shock to the system as the place is full of steep hills. We were grinding our way up one of these, and must have been close to 1000 feet above sea level, when a cheery young family approached from the opposite direction, father on his bike, mother and both children on hers. Never one to be ashamed of my rudimentary French, I bade them “Bonjour”. My greeting was returned with the extra information “Vous savez qu’il y a une funiculaire…?” No, I didn’t. “Yes,” she elaborated, in English, “there are lifts for everything in Luxembourg!”
By now we were nearly at the top so carried on but there were more hills and as the shade temperature moved into the high 20s Celsius so we flagged. Even the sight of a black stork and a red kite, closely followed by hearing a nearby cuckoo, didn’t spur us on as much as you might have expected. Jan was really struggling so when we happened upon a closed level crossing with a train approaching from the right direction, we hopped on. Jeff and Annie were well ahead by this time so I phoned Jeff and made him aware of developments.
We found the Römerbrucke hotel and had scarcely installed ourselves when Jeff an Annie appeared, having ridden about 10 miles more than we did. After ablutions, we wandered into Trier, found Karl Marx’s birthplace and took the necessary photos, albeit 200 years and 1 day after the event, and then dined on some splendid provender from some Wirtshaus or other in the city centre.