MONDAY, OCTOBER 5
Travel by train to Luxembourg, through the vineyards of Champagne, and the city of Metz. Weather in Luxembourg City is dismal, like Leeds in November. Our accommodation is next to the red light area. Refresh ourselves at Cafe Perigord, while watching cycling from Italy. Next stop, the more upmarket City Hotel, where cheese platters are the go. Marie cooks veal cordon bleu for dinner.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6
Explore Luxembourg City in more detail, on a wet, miserable day. We visited Luxembourg City while driving around Europe in our Kombi van in 1978. It was where I was introduced to the delights of hot chips with mayonnaise, and I have been hooked ever since. In 2002, when, I led my last group tour to Europe, our coach driver – Marc Kollwelter – was from Luxembourg. Tonight Marie and I have a lovely dinner upstairs at Cafe Monaco – seafood with local Riesling. Meanwhile, in the United States, our daughter, Melanie starts a small group bus tour around the north east, and into Canada.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 7
At breakfast we sit beside a couple (the Edwards) from Bateau Bay in New South Wales, who previously lived at Greenslopes in Brisbane. They are ex SGIO workers, and he is previously from Worcester in England – moved to Oz in 1968. At 11.30 a.m. we get a local bus, travelling through forest and a spectacular gorge, to Luxembourg’s oldest town, Echternach on the German border. Minestrone soup at a cafe which had good reviews on Trip Advisor. No complaints here.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8
A couple of days in Luxembourg is more than enough. Get the train to Trier on the Mosel River in Germany. Our room in the Romerbrucke Hotel overlooks the river. Explore the town before eating at the hotel restaurant, which Marie says reminds her of a Lismore motel restaurant. My curry is OK, Marie’s schnitzel terrible.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9
A big walk along the cliff tops above the River Mosel, returning via an ‘inland’ route. Dinner at a traditional cellar – Herzlick Willcommen. Funny place. Last orders 6.30 p.m. We return to the town square and a wine stand staffed by three efficient older people. On the way back to the hotel we have drinks at Bar Galerie, in the red light district. Loud music and three rough looking women are the memorable features. One song is ‘She Wears My ring’, made famous in Australia by Johnny O’Keeffe.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10
At the tourist office a lady rudely pushes in front of us. “They don’t know how to queue,” an English lady comments. We catch local trains to the twin towns of Traben – Trabarch on the Mosel, a beautiful spot. After exploring both sides of the river we have drinks at ‘Dubble Dutch’ Bar. The manager tells us Australians live next door – six months here, six months back in Oz. A Hen’s Party group, in traditional German dress, ‘take over’ our carriage on the train back to Trier.
They are not the only ones drinking beer and wine in the carriage, but everyone is in good spirits. The rail system is so efficient. Drinks at Taglich Bar near Port Nigra, a Roman entry gate to the city. The barman is grateful when I tell him we have been under charged. Dine at traditional Wirsthaus Glocke. Very good. Back at our hotel, serious cards are being played in a small downstairs bar.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11
Catch a boat to the wine centre of Saarburg, where it is all happening on a glorious autumn day – a fair is in full swing, and everyone is having a grand time.
Pass through huge locks, but it is still a tight squeeze for our vessel.
Light dinner at Giggio’s Restaurant near the cruise boat terminal. A drunk, middle aged man harasses Marie and I, but I handle him so well, the waitress shouts me a liquor – Wilhelm – it is like grappa. It’s the thought that counts.