What happened in October

November is usually the depressingly boring month, when the autumn really sets in, turning everything into grey, wet and cold misery. Then the nature goes to sleep, sun does not want to rise anymore and people are getting ill and depressed. At the same time the wheels of the economy are starting to spin faster after the summer break. That is usually a bad combination, and unnatural, in my humble opinion.

The starting of my October was not quite that depressing, or business-wheely. It started of with a birthday hike. Our dear German friend from Karhunkierros was getting older, and she had had the wonderful idea of hiking a part of the famous Mullerthal trail accompanied by hiking people. For us that was also a wonderful opportunity to get together with more or less the same group with which we hiked the most important hike of my life. Oh the nostalgia and the pretty memories! We should start doing that more often!

The planned hike started from Mullerthal and looped back via Larochette, 37 km of Luxembourgish countryside for us to hike in 2 days. We drove to Mullerthal in pouring rain. The weather didn’t get much better when it was time to get going on foot. So we all ended up looking more or less like walking tents in our rain gear.

The first day took our convoy through a beautiful valley all the way to Larochette. By the time we got there the rain had more or less ended and our wet convoy of hikers was able to get their feet dry. The evening was starting to turn a little bit moist though; Someone had brought some absinthe, and the store of the camping had a good supply of beer. We were able to get our birthday girl, and more importantly, the rest of the group, nicely tipsy. Soon there were plenty of inappropriate German jokes and out of focus pool games around.

The return hike to the car began in the late morning and was sturdily hangoverish. The convoy was walking less than straight, but everybody seemed to be pleased with the small party we had had the night before, I certainly was. We crossed quite a bit of beautiful Luxembourgian countryside with rain and wind on our backs.

The ending part of the trail took us to a wooden path that was extremely slippery after a couple of days of rain. On every second step someone was almost dropping off to greet the bushes. Soon we started to see more and more people, we were approaching the very popular bit of the famous stone formations, waterfalls and bridges, which many people obviously want to see.

Soon after that we found the cars, packed all the wet hikers into them, and drove home. For us it was a bath awaiting accompanied by some good wine.

The next weekend it was time to teach some basics of kiting to our dear friends Maria and Bram, who we have met via my Dutch lessons. One Friday we sent them off to Les Hemmes with their camper van and children. We would be coming after them on Friday.

That weekend turned out to be full of surprises.  First one being, that the camping we have started to use, was closed for the whole winter.  We had sent our friends there to find a closed gate and felt very bad about it. They had to go look for another campsite for the night.

On Saturday we arrived too, and got a confirmation of the camping really being closed. Another set of our dear friends, Maarten and Yvan, had found us another camping and even reserved a spot. Lovely people those guys! So we managed to focus on the more important tasks at hand, socializing over a beer with buggiers that is.

There was of course eventually a time for the beach too. The beach was perfect, I realized and felt immediately sorry for myself, since my wrist would not allow me to kite or drive at all. But the weather was nice, I had a chair, a camera and a good book with me, so the beach life would not be that bad.

By the time Maria and Bram joined the group we had already built our buggies and enjoyed a very buggier-like portion of beer, thanks to our dear friend Maarten. It was definitely time to drag ourselves to the beach. We set camp and Waffle started teaching.

Waffle’s day turned out to be hectic. There were two adults to be instructed and their kids to entertain. He was driving our tandem up and down the beach all day long, with too low wind and massive kites and kind yelling at him to go either faster or slower. If he wasn’t driving he was teaching people to fly a kite. I was ruminating my own misery of not being allowed to even touch a kite (I did though, do not tell Waffle).

That teaching resulted to the next surprise of the day. Bram was incredibly talented. Waffle shoved bigger and bigger kites into his hands and he didn’t die. Soon Bram found himself in a buggy with the kite and sure enough, he drove! He found the correct wind direction very easily and managed to drive some very impressive lines. Either Waffle is getting great at teaching or Bram is phenomenal.

The following day the wind was completely gone. Other activities needed to be invented. Since there were kids and all, we decided to go see the seals. As usual, to see them we had to drive through the makeshift refugee camp, The Jungle. Driving through that place is always an experience. To the kids it left quite an impression for sure.

At the shore we saw quite some seals. Apparently very contempt and happy seals. I have never seen them so relaxed before. They were just floating around with the current and socializing with the other blobbers. It was great to end that weekend like that, watching something so beautiful.

After that my October became a little bit more business-wheely. I had to stop my Dutch lessons (still getting my diploma though, with 89% score!) and get to work. So it finally started. My new challenge in working life. I work in the EU quarter in Brussels, right in the middle of EU politics. Which is surprisingly lot of fun. The job is interesting and the people are great, finally I am happy to be working again!

But I do spend a lot of time on the road. It is not the optimal journey to work from Rupelmonde to Brussels, especially as I am for the time being refusing to drive to the center on my own. That is why I haven’t been writing too much lately, at least in English, so sorry about that. I just haven’t had the time. But I’ll try to get it going again.

We do have some things coming up. Waffle is doing his No Alcohol November and we are going to Mallorca for a getaway weekend. There is another set of Finnish Beer Festival coming up and of course, Christmas is here pretty soon. I am happy to announce, that we’ll be spending it in Finland!

How is autumn getting along there, where ever you are?

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Hiking Through a Country

Be it Luxembourg, but we still managed to hike through a complete country. One might ask why you want to do a thing like that. Well, for us the meaning for this trip was to get a bit in shape before the hiking trip to Scotland. Luxembourg has a lot of hills and Scotland a few mountains, so we decided to start with the hills, and progress to mountains.

Border to border. So, how do you begin the hike through a country. Well, find a border, leave your car there, hop on to a bus and find the border on the opposite side, then hike back to your car. Simple. I do recommend you to pick a rather small country. Crossing Russia for example might be a little bit more difficult on foot. When jumping out of the bus, a slight feeling of being stupid is likely to occur; why on earth would you walk back the same distance you just traveled comfortably, sitting in a bus?
By the way, Luxembourg is really good at arranging public transport.

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Our hike started at Vianden, heading west towards the Belgian border, where our car was waiting for us. Distance was about 60 kilometers, which means crossing two complete topographic maps. We planned to walk it in about 3 days.

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A Hill! Luxembourg seems to be unable to maintain even levels of ground. So the hike began with a nice climb circling the castle of Vianden and off to the countryside. First night we threw our tent next to a little stream in a forestry valley. Got soaked during the night since it was raining and the tent happened to leak.

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So we left onto the journey of the second day, up and down a few hills. So massively green out there, all the valleys are filled with rivers and greenery.

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It is rather beautiful and you find a lot of snails and really friendly cows all over the place. Actually, at the second camp we had a rather athletic and amusing herd of bovines as neighbors.

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Captain Slow. The next morning we woke up to the reality, that we will never make the walk in 3 days. Being out of shape, slow and running around with the camera after every possible thing. Snails, mainly. We headed on, towards the lovely little town of Esch-Sur-Sûre.  We finally met a few people, over a beer. They thought that we were rather insane. Hiking through a country. Also, after two days of hiking in warm weather without the opportunity to take a bath, well, you know.

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The Paradise. We walked on, on the side of the Lake Esch. Annoyingly close to the road, but luckily it never takes long for the trails to dive into a forest. We had been hunting for nice camping spots from the map and did find a nice looking bay at the Esch.

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We arrived, and the region was even better than we had dared to hope. It was a forest of oaks right at the shore with an amazing view. And of course plenty of deer had found the place too. One had left a decent sized horn behind for us. Yes, our souvenirs are sometimes oddish.

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That was our last night of hiking and camping on that trip. It is incredibly calming to sleep in the nature, at that point we could hear owls calling and probably a deer or two rustling around in the bushes. This is probably a spot where we will return, once the kayaking season is here.

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Luxembourg. I love that little country. It is somehow welcoming and everything is small. The villages are so tiny, that all the residents seem to know each other, and greet you when they see you. They take on strangers with friendly curiosity and are clearly proud of their domain. I am so happy, that we live only a couple of hour away!

Pssst. More snails can be found from here!