Holland: 25 May 1969

Got off fairly early in view of the journey to Luxembourg, and were soon off down the motorway to Arlon . Quite busy, and several coaches too. Most cars crammed to capacity. Ardennes looked very green and rolling, and obviously continue the same into Luxembourg. Went through Bastogne – where the ‘battle of the Bulge’ was fought, Andrew enthralled at the tale, and very thrilled to see the U.S.A. tank in the town centre. (Roads all up and deplorable). Boundary very nonchalantly controlled, waved through. Stopped for coffee at a fascinating aircraft with cafe inside – coffee was freshly ground and gorgeous. Andrew and Sarah very excited, considered themselves air passengers. When we left, a real blow – car would not start. Prolonged fiddling and starting attempts but no luck. Rang AA in Luxembourg City and no reply. Alas! Eventually started with a push, but felt very uneasy about it, and every red light a nightmare. Finally found a garage and mechanic and he righted it – and did not ask for payment.

What a relief, imagine being stranded in Luxembourg, Whit Sunday and no car. Had a quick drive around, some very cosmopolitan shops, and most females be-hatted, plenty of people about. Left town and drove through several very sleepy looking country villages. Unlike Belgium, not as many shops. (In Belgium bread and patisseries open and some charcuteries).

Made for the wine-growing area in the S.E. and decided that after our traumatic morning we needed a decent lunch, so stopped in Gravenmacher at a hotel. Had a delicious meal – clear chicken soup with egg, and trout (David had salmon), children had their beloved chicken and chips and ice cream. Another British family there, and a French family wading through an expensive 4-course meal.

Decided to make a short visit to Germany to correct some of Andrew’s ideas regarding the Germans so crossed the Moselle – very efficient Customs Officer – and drove along German side, vine yards everywhere. Went through Trier and then back, past army camps (great interest to Andrew, Gareth and Sarah) and returned to Luxembourg a bit further North. Drove to Echternach, children very pleased to have added Germany to their list. Echternach extremely busy no doubt revving-up for their Tuesday procession – rather relieved we were not staying there as originally planned, and followed the border north to Vianden. The castle here is spectacularly perched on a cliff in the curve of the river. Now in ruins, it was the seat of the Orange-Nassan dynasty, and very powerful. Ruins impressive, especially some of the arches, and Andrew and Sarah had a lovely time scrambling around. Splendid view down the valley. Large numbers of Americans around – must be a military base near. On our return to the car, disaster again with the car – it would not start, and in trying to let it run down hill, bumped a small French Renault. Not too bad, sounded terrifying! Frenchman quite philosophical – armed with claims forms etc.!

Continued on to the Sure valley, very pretty, deep and winding with some beautifully located though remote campsites on curves in the river. Rain pouring down so we could not really linger, and pressed on for camp. Carsall decorated with yellow bloom, and people selling lilies of the valley also. Hit some motor-cross traffic near Bastogne, but that was the only hold-up till Dianat, where we had a quick cofee, and chips for enfants. Traffic solid back to Anserenne. Camp buzzing with life – friture, epicerie and boulangerie open, Grange vibrating to juke box and people everywhere.

Been quite a day today. Recovered with a delicious asparagus tea and decided to have a peaceful time tomorrow!

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