STORY - Most of the travellers were once in Luxembourg. I was there already countless times in the past and this small Duchy was for many years my second home where I stayed for a dozen times a year to write in peace. Many know probably the 'zimmer frei' rooms, or enjoyed together with their children, or as a child, funny days in one of the many campsites.
In the spring of 2014 I liked to do something else and I put on my hiking shoes, took my backpack and tent and decided to look with a different perspective and low budget eyes to Luxembourg. To move through the small country, I just would use my feet and public transportation. And I wanted to search for the unknown of the well-known, little country. My budget was 150 euro for 5 days 'Luxembourg all inclusive'.
I didn't prepared anything before and I had no idea what Luxembourg was going to offer me. This time I wanted to be surprised and each day I would decide again where I would go to the next day and would sleep. Given my limited budget I decided to take the train to the Belgian Arlon close to the border with Luxembourg. Close to the train station of Arlon I saw immediately the long-distance hiking trail GR 15. A short walk from less than two hours brought me through a green hilly landscape - with a small but tough slope - to Oberpallen just across the border.
In Oberpallen I took the bus to Luxembourg city. Besides the public transportation is very cheap in Luxembourg. A ticket 'courte durée' costs two euros and then you can use all buses and trains in Luxembourg for two hours. With a ticket 'longue durée' of four euros you can use unlimited the public transportation in Luxembourg whole the day.
city of contrasts
I had visited this city already countless times to shop around, to work or to enjoy from the culinary highlights. However, I had never really visited the city and I’m ashamed that I didn't knew before of the rich history and culture of this city. And I have to admit: I was quite impressed by the capital of Luxembourg after I visited the city with my paper city map and tourist information. Since a while I have deliberately not used anymore a smartphone. With many brochures of the tourist office I would explore the country of Luxembourg the next days.
Nowhere else in Europe I ever saw so discreet the remains of ancient medieval fortresses and creations of contemporary architecture near each other. The old center of the city is already a long time on the list of World Heritage of UNESCO. New modern buildings go hand in hand with heritage that reflects a rich historical past. Besides a third of the surface of the city is dotted with green parks and gardens. That makes of Luxembourg a city where it's nice to stay.
Mullerthal or Little Switzerland,
The next day I went by bus to Echternach, the oldest town in Luxembourg and one of the oldest centers of Christianity and culture in Europe. The medieval town has beautiful buildings full of history from Roman times, including a villa from the 1st to the 5th century and a Romanesque basilica with a crypt from the 8th century. In addition you’ll discover ancient city walls with towers, an abbey and old patrician houses on the market square. Because I come already more than 40 years in Echternach, I know this old town very well. So this time I just enjoyed from the soft spring sun and a delicious lunch under the blue sky.
Echternach is the ideal base for one of the many walks through the Mullerthal region. They call this area also Little Switzerland, through the rolling landscape that is reminiscent of Switzerland. But above all this is a very green biotope characterized by immense rock formations. The composition of rocks and their ancient erosion have the landscape as it is now created to something miraculous. The many hiking trails lead along rocks, fields and forests right through a nearly pristine piece of nature and breathtaking landscapes. That's exactly what I also did: a five-hour brisk walk from Echternach to Berdorf, Grundhof and Dillingen. There I decided to set up my tent near the sound of the water of the river Sûre. And on the other side of the river, Germany smiled at me.
untouched nature and castles
Bus and train drove me the third day through the Luxembourg Ardennes where landscapes with panoramic high plains and winding valleys with picturesque villages alternate each other. In this region you’ll discover among other things also the impressive castles of Vianden, Bourscheid and Esch-sur-Sûre. The castle of Vianden was not on my list because I visited it already several times. I wanted to be surprised and to discover new things.
That day my first stop was Clervaux in the heart of the Ardennes and located in a deep and small valley on the banks of the Clerve. On the top of a hill above the valley is standing an impressive abbey as a king who would sit on his throne. After a small but tough climb I reached after half an hour the abbey and there I got a beautiful view over Clervaux and its feudal castle from the 12th century.
Later that day I went to the small village Bourscheid. From there I had a breathtaking view on the lower located fortified castle that is built on the top of a rock, 150 meters above the river Sûre. This is the most photogenic castle that I saw on all my travels. From the village I could look hours to this princess on the green top. But I didn't had so much time, so I took a brisk walk downhill to the castle and I visited this medieval princess. Afterwards I went further downhill to the village Michelau in the green valley of the river Sûre.
Natural Park of the Upper-Sûre,
where the sun becomes one with water
The third night I ended up in Lultzhausen in the middle of the beautiful and ecological Natural Park of the Upper-Sûre, and I saw how the sun became one with the water of the lake. This nature reserve is characterised by high plains, deep valleys with wooded slopes and the huge reservoir of Esch-sur-Sûre built in the sixties. This green area is ideal for water sports and nature exploration. After breakfast I went walking to Esch-sur-Sûre along the shore of the reservoir. After some brisk climbing I got regularly a magnificent view over the wide area and the reservoir. When I was on one of the tops and I put me on my back and looked into the endlessness of these beautiful things, then disappeared all the noises in and out of my soul. I just got peace. Peace by simplicity and beauty.
Three hours later I reached Esch-sur-Sûre. The ruins of a castle above the town dominates the area, just like the rocks which rise out of the river and forms an imperial throne for the remains of the castle. Esch-sur-Sûre is just a small town, but you can have a delicious affordable lunch in one of the several restaurants with nice terraces. Later I went back to Lultzhausen along the other shore of the lake and I saw an equally grand view of the area, such as in the morning.
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg,
surprising and different
After breakfast on the last and fifth day, I took plenty of time to take the bus to Ettelbruck. A city at a crossroads of roads and railways. A place where the rivers the Sûre, the Alzette and the Wark hugging each other. Ettelbruck has a nice center with a pedestrian street for shopping, but otherwise there is nothing to do in this town, so I decided to go back to the Luxembourg and Belgium border. By bus I came back in Oberpallen where I took the same route (GR 15) as the first day. But this time to the other direction. Back to the Belgian Arlon. Halfway to Arlon there was a magnificent view of the oncoming city on the far horizon. A picture that I hadn't noticed before, because I previously walked away from Arlon.
Ultimately the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was more surprising and different than before. Perhaps I had already a few years platonic love for this small country, but this time I discovered some little extras and I got the desire for more. Long live my backpack, my hiking shoes, the excellent and affordable Luxembourg youth hostels and the cheap public transportation from the duchy. Who likes to walk with me next time?
Text & pictures: T. Hanan S.
More about: Luxembourg, travel, hiking, story
Published in Dutch language by: Wereldwijzer Reismagazine
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Thierry Hanan loves to travel without something to plan in advance and let everything just be what it is. Thierry Hanan has no fears to leave just on foot or by hitchhiking. Destination? Somewhere, nowhere and everywhere.
Thierry Hanan Scheers,