Friday, August 24, 2012

A Day in Echternach (& a two-nation run)

So this post is coming out a day later than I wanted to write it.  I have been trying to stick to a twice a week posting schedule.  I usually write posts on the evenings that Boyfriend has band practice, but this week the practice got cancelled.  That meant more opportunities for together time and less opportunities to be a nerd on my computer (which is a good thing).  Bailey also had a special play date last night, so there was that...
Bailey in a kiddie pool, being crazy
She really likes swimming and splashing when it is hot out.  Don't worry, she definitely got a bath after this mud-water-fest.

So today I want to write about the fourth place I visited on my Europe-trip (Biarritz, Bordeaux and Paris already recapped).  Before that, a quick workout recap:

Monday: 90 minutes of football practice (too sleepy to run in the morning)
Tuesday: 2100m swim (too lazy to get up in the morning for run, Argh)
Wednesday: 8.25 mile leisurely run
Thursday: 8.26 miles total, 3.25 miles hard on the track (3x1mile, 400m hard)
Friday: 8.00 mile recovery run over hills & 2000m swim

With that out of the way, let me tell you about my visit to Echternach.  After Paris, boyfriend and I took a train to Luxembourg city.  Why you ask?  Well, we were heading east anyways to visit a friend of mine living in Germany and we wanted to visit some interesting places along the way.  I had never been to Luxembourg and it seemed like a really easy way to add another country to the list of places I have been.  It's really easy to get to Luxembourg city, which is the capital, by high-speed train from Paris

Map of Luxembourg
Although Luxembourg city does have some stuff to see, it is like a lot of capitals in Europe and not super unusual, so instead we took a bus from Luxembourg city to Echternach, in the northeast corner of this tiny country.  It only took 45 minutes between the capital and Echternach, including many stops.  Echternach is the oldest town in all of Luxembourg and sits right on the border with Germany.  Heads up, Luxembourg city has the only train station in the country, so to get anywhere else you have to use the public bus system, which is very nice and was surprisingly easy to use.

Echternach is located in the Mullerthal region of Luxembourg, which locals refer to as "Little Switzerland" because of the hilly terrain, green hills and abundant hiking.  We picked this small town to visit because it was quiet, pastoral and close to the very old and interesting Beaufort castle. The afternoon after we arrived it was very drizzly, but we took a bus to the Beaufort castle, which was quite empty and very interesting to visit.

Beaufort castle
Beaufort castle and ME!

The castle had many rooms but the torture chamber was the most intriguing

Thumb screws make me sad
After visiting the castle, we had some time before the next bus back to Echternach.  We decided to take a short hike because there was a trail head directly across from the castle.  It was still drizzling and quite wet, but the trail was beautiful and it was a nice way to pass the time.  

There were sheep grazing adjacent to the trail head.  The lambs were very cute.

Me on the trail.  Everything was so green, unlike TX
We had a relaxing and quiet evening in Echternach, which is not exactly a happening place after hours.  That was okay though because it was one of the only days where we weren't constantly in motion trying to see things.  The next day we explored the town, which is small but pretty, and visited the abbey, church and abbey museum. Then we took a bus back to the Luxembourg train station and heading back into France.

Echternach town center.  That is the original celtic cross transported to the town by an Irish missionary in the 1100s.  Also note we had a brief period of blue sky in the morning.

Of course, I started the day with a run, and it was the best of my entire trip!  About a half mile from the hotel are some Roman ruins, which are adjacent to a lake that is surrounded by green hillsides.  I started my run with a loop around this lake, about 3 miles.  Everything was green and dewy and it was early morning so it was very quiet and hardly anyone was out.  I saw little foxes bounding through the hills and it was just beautiful.  I wanted to get some more miles in, so I headed back into town and then ran along the Sauer river that creates a natural border between Lux and Germany.  This river is about 1/4 mile from the hotel with a jogging/bike path right along the banks.  Again, it was a breathtaking place to run.  Couple that with cool morning temps and I found myself running a great pace effortlessly.  I passed some cows grazing in the field and the path put me less than 10 feet from them.  I found myself extending the run farther than intended and then reached a footbridge that crossed the Sauer to meet some hiking trails.  I ran over the bridge into Germany and decided to run in two countries that day (definitely a first for me!)  Although I wasn't in Germany very long, it was a pretty cool experience.

My run in Echternach was magical, pastoral and everything I could possibly want from running in a new place.  Although not the most exciting city I have visited, I really enjoyed the day there and would recommend it to anyone venturing to Lux.  Don't forget to pack your running shoes!

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