I had the best intentions to start my first day on the trail before 9 am, but a very enjoyable encounter set that back a bit. A young Korean college student was sitting near me at breakfast, obviously listening to music via his earbuds. I personally think there is too great a tendancy these days to shut out the world with these devices, so after a few minutes, I decided to invade his privacy. "Where are you from," is always a good icebreaker. It turns out that Jae Sang is cycling solo around Europe for 4 months, and had just finished the first leg of his journey (Paris to Lux. city, 1 week). We had a whole lot of fun talking about our various adventures. As he searched for words in his limited English vocabulary, I was reminded of how much I enjoy teaching English to speakers of other languages.
I was so happy we met each other. Good luck on your ride this year and future ride in the U.S.!
I left the hostel by 9:30, and spent the first hour getting out of the city. I tried to retrace the same route I took 4 years ago when I hiked down to Lake Geneva. My route (not yet the official GR 5) finally joined a hike-bike trail by a little river, with lots of cyclists , runners and walkers out enjoying the mild, dry, although overcast, weather. I soon passed some public gardens along the river, as well.
After time on little country roads, I finally joined up with the GR5. What a pleasure to be on "my" route again! In this part of the country, the marking is a yellow circle. In the following picture, you can also see the stylized clamshell sign for the Way of St James, which has paths from all over Europe which converge at the Pyranees for the final section to Santiago de Compostella, Spain. The GR5 often shares parts of its route with these trails.
The great majority of my walk today was either on pavement, either city or town sidewalks or small country roads. When I joined the GR5 , it took me through a lovely natural park region for half an hour, but then back to roads.
However, one path later on through different woods surprised me with a darling little chapel and several stations of the cross along the route. You just never know what delights Europe is going to throw your way. Castles can also appear in the most unlikely hamlets.
After six hours of being out, and maybe 15 miles on my feet, I came to my destination, Mondorf les Bains, right on the French-Luxembourg border, where I had booked a room at an auberge right by the well-known thermes (hot springs spa). I was thrilled to see a sign that indicated the GR5 (also known as E2).
However, the auberge wouldn't open its doors for 2 more hours, at 6pm, and the thermes were closed on Sunday! Augh!!! I am carrying my swimsuit (=more weight in backpack) for this! But after a gelato at Stop #1 and a beer and Cheetos (unbelievable but true) and wifi at Stop #2, I felt much more relaxed about the situation.
I'm now clean and comfy after a shower in my own bathroom, enjoying the privacy, after the ever-changing population in my room in the youth hostel. A great "gourmet" salad at the restaurant that is a part of the auberge has me feeling virtuous, so I think I 'll have some dessert.
Lessons learned today:
1. Talk to people. It's fun.
2. Half a bottle of wine is actually too much for one person.
3. But dessert's fine, as long as you have walked all day.