After a quick breakfast in Brussels, I was back on the road for what was to be my first long haul of a day. The city was coming alive and traffic on the narrow streets was getting tricky. After two weeks of reminding myself to drive on the wrong side of the road, trying to enter the Brussels roundabouts the “right” way was pretty disorienting. Given the number of horn blasts and hand gestures I received, I think it is going to be a little while before I am invited to drive the Belgian capital’s streets again.
I made my way out of town and headed south towards Luxembourg. Ther e was a little detour I wanted to take. In a journey of 10,000 miles, what is a hundred or so extra?
The little town of Wiltz is located in a rolling valley in the northeast of Luxembourg. There is a very nice castle there, but more important, ancestors of mine came from there. Our family has handed down the Wiltz name through male children for generations. Seeing as how I might not be this way again for a while, I decided to go for a (quick) visit.
The town was idyllic, with colorful houses rising up the far side of the valley, and the peak of the train station poking up from the center of town. Overlooking the valley is Le Chateau Wiltz which was reconstructed on its current site after someone realized that building the castle on the valley floor allowed the enemy to have the high ground (the castle was over run several times before it was rebuilt much higher). This year Le Tour also passed through Wiltz (on the 3rd of July). After driving the rolling hills surrounding the city, it must have been a pretty challenging leg!
From there I wound my way through the Luxembourgian countryside until I finally met up with a freeway just outside of Germany. As soon as I was across the border, Autobahn rules kicked in and my little Rascal was having the doors blown off it as everything from expensive Porsches to economy sedans sped past me at well over 100mph. You know it is going to be quick going when the “slow down” speed for corners is over 80 mph!
I pulled over at a roadside rest stop just inside the German border to stretch my legs and get my bearings. The day was starting to get hot and humid, butt he weather could not decide what it was going to do. Heavy clouds in the sky made it feel like a thunderstorm could happen, but the sun was so hot, it wanted to burn them all away. The rest stop gives me my first impressions of Germany.
A skinny, think-looking guy wearing nothing but flip flops and a pair of gray boy-shorts was walking back and forth near the cab of a Mercedes big rig truck where another man is waiting, shirtless from at least the waist up. The Twink keeps going back to the cab, then squatting under the trailer of the rig, fiddling with the brake lights, then going back to the cab. It is hot, but not sure it is “walk around a truck stop in your underwear” hot.
A woman and her husband, both with short gray hair, pull up in an Audi station wagon. While the man goes to use the foul-smelling restroom, the woman sets a picnic table with wine glasses, bottled water, and a loaf of fresh bread. When the man returns, they switch places and the man begins to slice the bread. He also fetches a USB-powered cooler from the car and produces a selection of soft cheeses, sliced meats, and cold melon for their lunch. It seems at odds with the rough surroundings.
I got back in the Rascal and headed down the road. There was a lot of Germany to cover. And I hoped to be in Sisak, Croatia by the end of the day. That was just a pipe dream. Before long I was hopelessly confused, turned around, and backtracking. The atlas I bought for the trip covers all of Europe and is only slightly smaller than some of the countries I am visiting. It requires two hands and your full concentration to read it, not something easily done at 60 miles per hour!
Eventually I got it sorted out and pointed in the right direction. According to my calculations I should be in Croatia around 3 am. I think instead I will just choose a freeway rest stop for the night and see what interesting people I’ll meet!