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luxembourg

Coincidences

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Coincidences

Last year when I was cycling in Lofoten, Norway’s mountains wore out both of my break pads near the end of the tour. With a heavy bicycle in a hilly country, this is a big problem. I looked for a solution in a bike shop in Leknes, which didn’t have the right parts, but the nice mechanic recommended the lovely nearby Uttakleiv beach while waiting. I walked the bike there and enjoyed my stay, but had to end my trip there because I ran out of time and never got my bike fixed.

Well, on this trip back in Sommarøy I met nice a couple on holiday from South Norway. They were riding borrowed bicycles, and the man mentioned the brakes weren’t so great on his. Sympathetic to brake issues after my previous experience, I offered to tighten them. This lead to more talking, and me mentioning this blog. Later on I received an email from him, because he visited my Route page and saw the request for travel tips. The one place he said I should absolutely visit - Uttakleiv beach.

So I ended up in Uttakleiv because my brakes broke, which a year later made me fix the brakes of a stranger, who then ended up recommending Uttakleiv. There’s a funny symmetry to that.

A throwback to a morning in the Netherlands.

More recently in Luxembourg, we had trouble finding a place to stay after dark. In Bettendorf, Isabelle went to a flower shop with a café to ask for help. She came out with a big smile, which always means we’re in for a special treat. And we were - the two sisters who owned the place had told her we could sleep in their greenhouse. +12 degrees and dry was a huge improvement from the 0°C and raining that the outdoors had to offer that night.

We sat in their Flower Power café / pub while waiting for closing time, before we could take our bikes and sleeping bags in. By the owner’s recommendation, we tried a new local cider called Ramborn. Not only was it tasty, but also well timed, since we’d been looking for cider in the store earlier that day, but hadn’t found any.

Another earlier photo. The weather hasn't been great for the camera lately, so recent photos have been few and far between.

Two days later, after the events of the previous update, we arrived in Junglinster. It was dark again with no camping options. Isabelle had a cold, so we chose to knock on doors and ask for warmer accommodation. The first person we asked only understood French, but we got lucky with the second house. A very friendly couple let us in and ordered Chinese food while we told our stories. They lived in a beautifully furnished modern house, with a line of Dior and Chanel perfumes in the bathroom, and quality whiskeys on the living room shelf. I wasn’t surprised to hear the husband was a bank manager.

I was surprised to hear about their other side project. For a few years, they’d been getting into the cider business with their own brand. They were the makers of the very same Ramborn we’d drank by the greenhouse. Completely randomly, we had decided to ring their doorbell out of the countless others around.

I don’t search for a deeper meaning or divine guidance in these little coincidences like many other people seem to, but they are pretty cool nonetheless.

Typical view in Luxembourg: Rolling hills and forest.
From Martin's photo tour in Goesdorf, Luxembourg.
 

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Tears in Luxembourg

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Tears in Luxembourg

Back in Senja during the first month of my trip, I met a cyclist called Martin, on his way to Nordkapp. I was on my way to Andenes on the ferry he arrived on. We had less than two minutes to talk, but it was enough for him to invite me to Luxembourg if I would visit it later. He lived in Goesdorf, which was my first stop in the country. Martin and Arlette were incredibly sweet and accommodating, treating us to showers and laundry, food and guided photo tours around the area and in Luxembourg City. 

I was a little preoccupied with thoughts about my future route, and especially whether I would be continuing alone or not. If I wanted to continue via the Black Forest in Germany, I knew Isabelle wouldn’t be able to join me. There were too many mountains and the weather was too cold. Even with her new sleeping bag, she had Kira to think of. And although there is no hurry anywhere, I felt a growing frustration about our slow pace of travel. I wanted to spend more time in special nature areas and cycle faster through the more boring parts in between.

Then again, Isabelle and I had gotten very close during the previous few weeks. We had the same sense of humour, which made every day fun. We had very similar views on almost everything, plus common interests. And when you’re camping and touring with someone like this, you get to know the real person with all their gritty imperfections. As opposed to whatever shining public image people naturally try to display.

Isabelle practicing photography with her 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Sometimes the bikes need alone time.

Despite all the similarities, we were also different enough to keep things interesting. I was learning a lot from her carefree way of approaching life, and my comfort zone was expanding rapidly. Touring with her was undeniably more enjoyable than being alone. And often easier, with less need to leave the bicycle unguarded, and more opportunities to sleep in houses with beds and showers.

But did I really want to share my journey and dreams with someone? In my mind I had this idea of what my trip would look like, and it felt difficult to let go of it. It was a solo tour. Just me against the world. Alone with my camera. Sharing the road only via my photos. I wasn’t built for this kind of travel, for making compromises. The Black Forest was waiting for me.

The Ardennes on the Luxembourg side was quite beautiful.

In a small village called Dillingen, it was a particularly cold day. Only a couple degrees above zero. Our pace was so slow I wasn’t getting warm from the cycling. We needed a shower, but every place was closed for the season. My mood was grim, and it felt like I was sacrificing the very freedom that I was searching for.

We found a cafe and stopped to warm up by two mugs of hot chocolate. I told Isabelle we couldn’t continue together further than this. I had to move faster, see more places, spend more time alone, and focus on my photography. We had to separate here. She understood - she had her own doubts as well.

We hugged. We cried. We kissed.

And then we got back on the road and continued together, in the same direction.

Schiessentümpel cascade with the ND1000 filter.
Sometimes the weather and landscape doesn't have much to offer beyond a few drops of water.
 

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