Yesterday I was on the trail 9 hours, covering around 30 hilly km (about 19 miles). It's very frustrating not being able to go faster, but a loaded backpack really slows you down on the uphills, and I'm careful on the trails going downhill, since I'm alone and don't want to twist an ankle.
At one point yesterday, the trail took me up to one of the higher points in Luxembourg, at 499 meters (1,637 feet). Not the Alps, but it gave a nice broad view of Germany to the east.
Because of the scarcity of hotels in the countryside, I had to cross the river and go a kilometer into Germany to a village called Dasburg. Some of the other guests were cyclists and motorcyclists, which I see often on the roads. Because of the weak wifi, I wasn't able to make a blog entry last night.
Another thing that is scarce in these villages is a grocery store. Everyone obviously drives elsewhere to grocery shop. However, what's a walker to do, for obtaining snacks and lunch materials? Shop at the occasional gas station (mostly full of liquor and coffee), order a picnic lunch from the hotel, and fill in around the edges by pilfering the breakfast buffet, if the hotel has one. I always have trail mix, dark chocolate and fruit with me, for energy along the way.
Today, the morning was great, but the afternoon was not. It started out with a lovely secluded 4 hour walk along or above the banks of the narrow little Our River, with Germany a mere stone's throw away.
I finally got to meet up with other long distance hikers (most fromHolland) and it was good to compare notes. They too have had problems with the trail markings, so I'm not senile...yet. One group of young Belgiums were especially amusing.
At noon I crossed a bridge into Belgium at a place called Trois Frontieres. There was absolutely no indication that I was changing countries except for white and red GR5 marks now showing up on posts. Holland, Belgium and France use these marks to indicate the GR5. Only Luxembourg uses other shapes...or so I thought...
But the afternoon brought yet more problems with trail markings, with a mixture of the yellow circles and the white and red marks (sometimes indicating different directions to go) and more forests torn up with tree harvesting. I finally just backtracked, thereby adding an hour wasted, and walked on the quiet road by the river till I came to another spot where I could get back up to the trail, now beyond the tree mess. This seems to be becoming a habit.
I'm staying in the little village of Burg Reuland, which is in the German-speaking part of eastern Belgium, so I'm at a total loss linguistically. The town's buildings show the German influence, and there are remains of an 11th century castle. My hotel is also very cute. The high school daughter of the owner had to use her English II abilities to help her father check me in.
One last thing: everyday when I get to my hotel, I immediately do the following: shower, wash my clothes in the sink with shampoo, email Bill that I'm safe and sound, check email, start typing the blog, eat dinner, call Bill (using the hotel phone and my international phone card), email photos to Bill for the blog, get ready for bed, stretch, read my humorous book about Belgium, and pass out.
I share this with you because I scored a bonanza tonight. This hotel had huge dispensers of shower gel (free detergent!) and towel bars in the bathroom that heat up. Quick drying! Ah, the small pleasures of life. And now I continue my nightly routine.