It’s not often on a cycle trip you take the healthier food option, but chocolate advent calendars are hard to come by in Albania.
As an alternative, we will be posting five Top 5s of our trip so far, from now until Christmas Day. (Sorry to my Mum who doesn’t think advent calendars should include Christmas Day).
First to feature are our favourite off-road cycle routes. These have become less common the further south we have cycled so expect the early weeks to feature heavily. We may have forgotten some stretches of road on them so this is not a reliable resource for planning your elderly relatives’ cycle holidays.
#5 Traffic free cycle routes 1st December
Vianden to the Moselle, Luxembourg. Cute towns, pretty scenery, great surface, well-kept picnic spots. Lovely.
I’m expecting some serious brownie points from Tourism Luxembourg after this post. But it’s ace. I heart it. We rode through Luxembourg on our last European cycle trip and I remember it being fun for cycling, and now I’ve been reminded why – it ticks all the boxes.
As a country it’s stunning to look at. Forests, steep sided gorges, rivers, and small towns and villages dominated by old pointy buildings (abbeys, churches, castles) high above them. Everything is clean and well presented. Even the picnic areas by the side of the road have shelters, picnic benches…. One even had a book swap. We didn’t see any litter. Maybe because it’s so small you get the feeling that you are seeing all it has to offer. And the cycling is great, not least because of the above, but also because the roads and cycle paths are so smooth. Seriously smooth – not a bump in sight. In fact the only bump in the road I can remember us going over was where we ignored the road closed signs and ended up cycling along a brand new surface, no other traffic, until we reached the point where the new surface hadn’t been laid yet and we had to bounce over some stones. This had almost became standard practice on Belgian bike routes (especially when you consider their love of cobbles. Ah another plus to Luxembourg – the obsession with cobbles is limited to town centres so our brain cells stayed mostly intact).
Luxembourg even fed us well. We were riding down the border with Germany, repeating a route we did in 2013 – back then it was a rainy ride to the pretty town of Echternact which improved our drab mood vastly by providing huge slabs of meat between bread as there was a fire services fundraiser in the main square. When we found ourselves once again riding towards Echternact – not so rainy this time but hardly all sunshine and smiles – we were reminiscing about how the town saved us, thinking ‘how great would it be if that were no happen again….’ Imagine the sheer joy of two hungry cyclists riding into the main square only to find a Scout fundraiser selling sausages, freshly pressed apple juice, coffee and cake. Amazing!
Ok, one concession, there are some evil hills to ride up. Par for the course with the gorges, rivers and hill top villages. To get from the river in the centre to the river in the East, we had to get over a large hilly section. After choosing a bike route described as ‘family friendly’ we climbed a ridiculously steep hill for what seemed like forever only to then plummet back down into Vianden with hands so sore from braking I thought they might never hold a cup of tea again (but we did pass a spectacular castle on the way so it wasn’t all bad). Note to Tourism Luxembourg, if I took my family on that bike route I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be friendly for much longer. But still, fantastic riding. Shame it is so small you are in and out in a couple of days. Heartily recommended!