We woke up early, René was great, after helping with the bike and guiding us through his country, not only did he put us up at the hotel (he said the air mattress was deflated and he did not want to have his new Canadian friends sleep on the floor of his home-office). He did not even let us pay of breakfast, so generous, we were a bit overwhelmed by his kindness but, I reminded myself that random acts of kindness among bikers are nothing new.
We left at about 10:00 for Esh-sur-Sûre, in the course of the afternoon we would cover the span of the Benelux (Belgium-Netherlands and Luxembourg), we had already decided on by-passing Brussels, it’s my city of birth and we have been there on many occasions.
Before heading up to Maastricht, we stopped in a little town where we hooked up with a friend of René, another ST rider recuperating from a bad fall during a trip to the States. We were invited for lunch and after copious amounts of food, we made our way to Maastricht where René double checked if I had the right track in the Zumo, we gave him a hug and we were now on our own.
Jackie and Valentino
They say about Luxembourg that the south is only 2 miles away from the north. Well what else can you say about a country the size of Rhode Island with just about 2586 sq km, it, with Belgium and the Netherlands are in my mind the true heart of Europe. Indeed, they started it all with the Benelux back in September of 1944 while all 3 monarchies were in exile in London. This economic alliance would become the precursor to the CEE and eventually the EU. Small is truly beautiful.
I think we scared him
Founded in 963, Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and an independent state under the Netherlands. It then lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839, but gained a larger measure of autonomy.
It was not until 1867 that the country attained full independence. Overrun by Germany in both World Wars, it ended its Swiss like neutrality in 1948 shortly after forming the Benelux Customs Union, and further joining NATO the following year. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community, in 1999 it joined the euro currency area.
We stopped for lunch and an espresso in the capital.
The com system and the Zumo are working well. I was getting used to the new PR2’s, and it felt great to be riding again. My last ride had been in November, so I was slowly easing back into the saddle. We arrived in Esch-sur-Sûre. Just before dark and after dropping our stuff in the room we headed to the local watering hole.
Diekirch is the national beer, and we had one, or two, or three.
We spend the night in this hotel, it was nice but way to expansive for our planned budget, it was the first night on the road so who cares. We'll have time to be frugal when we start to run out of Euros
In the morning we walked around the walled city it was really nice, a bit brisk, not quite spring yet. After a hearty breakfast we geared up and headed for Héricourt.
View from the top
As we made our way out of town, I had to negotiate a very steep and narrow road that ended in a T with an imposing wall in front. A car came in from the left not making a complete stop, as I was slowing down to make my stop, not quite at the top of the hill yet, I saw the cage committing to turn right, so I moved further to my right to give it more room, while edging slowly past my stop to make sure that there was not another car coming from the right, I lost my momentum, alas I was too slow, and I did not give enough throttle to compensate for the steep hill, ST decided to take a rest, and we went down from an almost static position.
I still needed to get use to the weight of bike, we got help from a couple of guys to right her up, the lady behind the wheel of the cage got out and apologies profusely.
Jackie gave me a dubious look and said:
"What’s up with that Valentino, dood pace yourself its only our second day on the road, you sure your ready for the Pyrenees".
I guess I had that it coming.
Oh well c’est la vie, we had about 400 km to do, perfect for the first really complete day of riding, and a walk in the park for the ST. Making our way to France in the region of Haute Saône, where my cousins awaited. I have not seen them in over 30 years. We would make a short loop around Metz, just south of Nancy, a beautiful medieval walled city. We had been there before but never together it was perfect.
And back on the road to Alsace.
More to come soon...