The Sweet Taste of Victory and Trappist Beer
Total distance 73.2 km
See below for elevation profile, maps and GPX files.
Despite the major setback from our broken trailer we woke up feeling refreshed in our 90 euro per night hotel room bed. We probably had other options besides spending the money on the hotel room, but in the end it worked out to our benefit. We were out the door at 8am on our way to the plumber’s to see if they could fix our axle. We arrived only to see a sign saying it was closed for vacation. They did have a number for emergencies so we took it down, considering that our situation was an emergency to us. Not to be discouraged we went across the street to an auto supply shop to see if they could help us. They were really interested in our problem and trying to help us. As we listened to them discuss options, I could tell that everything they could think of was impossible because it was closed. All we could understand of the conversation was “… c’est fermé … c’est fermé …” etc. They explained to me that we were in the middle of 3 weeks of national vacation that all the big companies take off and no one would be working until August 20th. They thought that there might still be something open in Luxembourg city and gave us the number of somewhere we could try.
We headed back to the hotel wondering how we were going to get this fixed. We talked to the receptionist and tried to explain our problem in French, which was difficult since I didn’t know the word for broken, weld or fix, but she got the gist of it. She called the emergency number for the plumber and he said normally he could but since everyone was on vacation there was no way. She asked the hotel maintenance guy if he could do anything and a familiar conversation was had where all I could make out was that everywhere was closed. They talked a little more and off the maintenance man went with our broken axle. She said hopefully he will be back soon. With nothing more we could do we finished packing and hung out in the room for a little bit hoping for the best.
About an hour and a half went by before we heard anything but we got a knock on our door and there was the receptionist with our axle welded back together. It was probably the best sight we had seen on the trip so far. We can see cool old buildings all the time, but a fixed part necessary to finish our trip was not something we expected to see. And it was only 12 euro for the weld which we thought was more than reasonable.
With our fixed axle back in place we took off down the road a little before noon hoping to make the 40k to Orval before it closed. We reflected on how nice everyone we had encountered in Luxembourg was and how willing they were to help. We definitely wouldn’t have been on the road as fast if we had tried to do it ourselves and for that the hotel proved to be worth every centime.
Once on the road we encountered moderate hills all the way to Orval. It felt good to have a goal for the day and a frosty treat waiting for us when we arrived. We were feeling a bit stronger up the hills but it might have been that it was late in the day and needed to make progress if we were going to see everything we wanted to see. It was pretty ironic that the first day we had set an actual schedule turned out to be the first day we were behind schedule. We finally made it to Orval around 3pm which was the perfect amount of time to see the abbey, the old ruins and get a beer.
Orval is unique in that it is the only Trappist brewery where you can go on the grounds and even stay at the abbey to live like the monks for as long as a week. We noticed on their website that there is an annual brewery visit in September. Sadly we were about a month early to take the tour but the abbey was still great anyway. The gift shop sells beer, cheese and Orval glasses. We didn’t take any souvenirs home since we didn’t have much room for anything else on our bike.
After our visit we headed another 20k toward a campground. It’s amazing what one beer will do to your motivation on hills. We were incredibly slow. Whoever said Belgium is all flat didn’t cycle around the Walloon. The hills are manageable. We never had to get off our bike but we definitely weren’t fast. It was all worth it when we started to descend downhill into the valley where our campground was. We passed through these really amazing forests where everything was really wet and green. It probably had some good stealth camping spots but there was a proliferation of hiking trails and unfortunately garbage, indicating it may be a popular party spot in the evenings.
The campground was pretty nice compared to the ones we stayed in previously. It was 18€ and had fewer campers than we’ve seen. We finished off the day with a couple Westmalles and fell asleep to the trickle of the passing stream.
View Petange to Orval in a larger map