Arriving in Luxembourg I could really tell it was only just March, because it was cold, wet and grey. Nevertheless I enjoyed wandering through the city. In the afternoon I got a very warm welcome by my host, Jula. Great conversation, as well with the other people living in the big white house. There was supposed to be a house ghost for which I was the sacrifice. My bike, tent and other stuff was already divided among the residents. Luckily I woke up safe and sound and could continue my journey after having breakfast and a cup of coffee.
Since Luxembourg isn’t that big compared to France, it didn’t take me so long to cross the border with Belgium, although I did make a little ‘detour’ through Müllertal. At this point I could sense I wasn’t that far away from home anymore and so a switch turned inside my head, from the position of ‘happily roaming around’ to ‘lets go home’. But it was still one switch, so I ignored it the best I could. After a difficult ride through the hilly eastern part of Belgium (St. Vith – Malmedy – Spa – Theux) I arrived in Liège. I had two hosts there in order to see the city and to experience my very first carnaval on Saturday. I spend the Friday evening with a very friendly family, where I could leave my bike in their hallway the next day to explore the city by foot. It was the only day of my whole trip that I didn’t ride a single kilometer! Since my second host never replied after he had said I could join him to the carnaval, the Claessens-family took me along with their lovely kids. Although there was a thunderstorm and quite some rain I enjoyed the parade and the burning of mister winter a lot.
The next day I another switch flicked in my head when I arrived in the city of Maastricht. This was one I couldn’t ignore. Now I was really at a point of going as fast as possible through the Netherlands up north. I could easily smell the stable as we say in Frisian, i.e. I had the feeling of being almost home and wanted to be home. I had two more hosts, since it would be too far of a stretch to cycle in one day. I didn’t sleep in the tent anymore after the northern part of Luxembourg. For several reasons. First, I never had a Warmshower-host in the Netherlands before and wanted to try that out. Second, meeting new people is always delightful. Third, I got a bit fed up with the cold mornings coming out of the tent with nightfrost. Fourth, wildcamping is not that easy in The Netherlands, etcetera etcetera.
I can’t praise the community of Warmshowers enough. It’s always a joy to meet people on the street and have a little chat, but when you have a host, you get the opportunity to have a little peek in their lives. You can have more conversation to get to know them better than the five minutes on the street. You can ask them questions about their travels, but also about the customs and culture of the country you’re in. Sometimes you meet one with a lot of experience, so you can learn quite some from the other. At other times you spend the night at a family, who only do some mountainbiking, but are really interested in your travelling and they bend your ears by asking a thousand questions. One takes you along in the city and you have a stop or two in a pub. With another host, you sit and talk with a cup of tea and you end the evening with a board game.
But in which way every host is the same, is that every single one is as friendly, kind, generous and welcoming as they can be. And with everyone you have that one thing in common, namely the pedaldriven two-wheeled machine called a bicycle.
I won’t say travelling by bike would be boring without Warmshowers, but it definitely makes a trip all the more interesting – and during winter a bit more comfortable.
In short, I had another great bike adventure and got safely back home in the city of Groningen. A nice detail is that I didn’t see the sun for days, but when I just got in the centre, she winked at me through the clouds and was gone again. I guess it was the way of the gods to welcome me home.