We wander through Echternach, hide in a grammar school and talk to a gardener.
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Despite Born being a very nice and picturesque village on the border of Little Switzerland, it is also not particularly large, as previously stated. Two streets, a church, a school with a letterbox on it, the campsite and a hotel above a small restaurant pretty much form the bulk of it. Which is why it took us less than half an hour to explore it in search of a store and a letterbox. It was clear we needed a slightly bigger town to keep us entertained.
The nearest candidate for that was Echternach. We had passed through on our way to Born, and visiting the supermarket we had once again crossed its beautiful town square, which was reminiscent of the sort of town squares you still find in many eastern European cities. As such, this town was to be our first destination. Enjoying the sounds of local Luxembourgish radio station Radio Aktiv (“Es ist Zeit für… elektro-dance!”), presented by what sounded like an enthusiastic man sitting in his own attic and who we were pretty sure would unfortunately not make it through the first round of a DJ audition contest, we drove to Echternach.
We soon found a parking space and decided to start our visit from a terrace on town square. The cathedral was closeby, so we headed in that direction. Although it looked distinctly like a classical cathedral, it did seem to be rather new. Apparently it had burned down halfway through the previous century, but with some considerable effort and community donations it had immediately been rebuilt. Alongside the cathedral was another building complex, which turned out to be an abbey. A bit further down, we also walked into the orangery: a beautifally ornamented garden with several lawns, rose bushes, statues, a fountain and a free-standing mansion.
Caught by the rain
Just as we walked through the garden and taken photographs of it from every angle, rain set in—initially a few drips, but it soon swelled to serious proportions. We had just started a sprint towards the access gate to the garden as a gardener came walking up who offered us shelter in the mansion. We could not resist such an offer and soon we were having a pleasant conversation in German with the gardener behind the glass panes of what used to be the orangery itself. At this time, however, it was in use as a grammar school, while the rest of the previous monastery was now housing for about eight different boarding schools.
When he learned that we were stationed on the campsite in Born, he shook his head and told us we should have gone to the camping in Rosport, which is where he was from. It was a lot more beautiful and much better. Vonne and I exchanged looks and decided this might not be the time to tell our friendly host that that was the camping we had actually visited and turned down. He did supply us with a few tips regarding the sights in town, and also recommended the castle of Vianden; especially good for a rainy day, because indoors. This tip would save us from quite a shower later on, but at the time we were blissfully unaware.
A few minutes later the sky started clearing and after thanking the gardner for his hospitality, we continued exploring Echternach. At a tourist office we picked up a map, which showed us that four of the original towers of the city wall had be repurposed into vacation homes. We decided it might be worth a walk around the old city walls and found a lot of beautiful and scenic little streets with colourful houses (Vonne for some reason kept enquiring whether we too should paint our house pink) and stately buildings. By the end of the afternoon, we got ourselves an ice-cream and headed into the park. One of Luxembourg’s advantages: after a short spell of rain, the sun was eager enough to return. As we entered the park, we found that we had accidentally set our first steps onto the Müllerthaler Trail, one of the hiking routes leading through Echternach. We would soon become familiar with the signs with the red M, but for now we enjoyed the park before heading back to our tent.