Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hello Châteaux: Cold, Wet, and Totally Lost at Bourscheid Castle

Donneschdeg, 28 Januar.

Let's begin this post by quoting the Rolling Stones, who in their infinite wisdom informed the world that "you can't always get what you want." Like, say you want to bake a cake but you realize you don't have any flour. Or you have a crush on somebody but they don't like you back. Or you just want to go see a nice castle but everything goes wrong and it's cold and it starts to rain and you get lost in the woods.

With that last example particularly in mind, let's talk about Bourscheid Castle! Known as Buerg Buerschent in Luxembourgish, this castle dates back to the eleventh century and is one of the most picturesque châteaux in Luxembourg. (At least, according to my "Castles of Luxembourg" pamphlet.) This past weekend, some friends and I decided to check it out.

The map to which we ought to have paid a bit more attention.

If you see this beautiful view, then you are NOT ON THE RIGHT PATH.

Our adventure began in Michelau, a sleepy little town with a population of less than three hundred people. (They don't even have a Fischer!) Although I definitely saw more farm animals than people during our walk through the town, Michelau does have one major thing going for it: a train station. That's right: the CFL rolls right through Michelau on its merry way from Luxembourg City to destinations like Ettelbruck, Diekirch, and Clervaux. All of this means that on a Sunday, when buses in the Grand Duchy are scarce, it is still relatively easy to get to Michelau!

Unfortunately, that's where the "easy" aspect ends.

I had read online that Bourcheid Castle was connected to Michelau by "a footpath" and had seen vague references to nearby hiking trails. However, I'd been unable to find any mention of a clearly-marked "THIS WAY TO CASTLE" sign ... which I should have perhaps taken as a warning. Although "footpath" had -- for me -- connoted a short, winding path through the woods, it turned out to be much more along the lines of a steep, waterlogged hiking trail up the slippery slope of a forested mountain.

It would have been tricky enough, but we also wound up making a wrong turn onto the AK1+2 trail (the black line on the map above) instead of taking the path to the castle (the yellow line) and got totally lost. Once we realized our mistakes, backtracked, walked up the correct path, forded a small stream that flows right through the middle of the trail, encountered a friendly man hiking with two incredibly disobedient dogs, and got to the castle, we had been walking for over an hour! Phew. Some "footpath."

Of course, as one-thousand-year-old fortified castles tend to be, the Château de Bourscheid was worth it.

Admission to the castle costs four euros (for students) and includes an audio guide. Unless you arrive within 90 minutes of closing, in which case you are told by a polite but firm employee that audio guides are no longer distributed, but have fun figuring it all out with this map. (Insert chorus of aforementioned Rolling Stones song here.)

We enjoyed exploring the castle, although the snow and occasionally icy patches meant that we couldn't see everything. The longer we stayed, the thicker the surrounding fog seemed to get. Although it was a little disappointing that we couldn't see the view, the fog did make for some pretty cool photographs!

Ultimately, everything turned out fine. We made it to the castle, we didn't miss our train back to Luxembourg, and we got some exercise to boot! (The photo above was taken as we ran through a field back to Michelau.) Despite -- or perhaps because of -- our misadventure, I am sure that I will head back to Bourscheid at some point in the future. The castle was seriously beautiful and I have no doubt that the hiking trails would be significantly more fun in nicer weather (and, ya know, with a map).

So stay tuned for Bourscheid, part two. ;)


  1. What an amazing narrative of this adventure was this; almost like Pooh in the Hundred Acre Woods. I am proud of your ability not to panic. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow! Fog makes it all an entirely different kind of beautiful! Great story!