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TRAVEL Q&A

Hiking, With a Little Bit of Luxe

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By Scott Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 20, 2008

Q. We would like to hike across Luxembourg this July. Is this something we can just wing?

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Brent Shawcross, Williamsburg

A. Hiking across Luxembourg? How long is this guy's vacation -- 15 minutes? And lame jokes like that aren't the only consequence of the public's habitual confusion of Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. The latter, sandwiched between Germany and France, is a certifiable hiker's paradise bisected from north to south by the GR-5, a sort of Appalachian Trail for Europhiles. Think of it as the larger of the two small L-countries, the world's last remaining grand duchy and a forgotten paradise, at least for Americans.

"As to Luxembourg, I know very little about it personally," David May told us. This was interesting, because May otherwise knew a great deal about the GR-5. His Web site ( http://www.grfive.com) contains lots of firsthand knowledge about the trail, which runs 1,500 miles from a Dutch town on the North Sea to France's Nice on the Mediterranean; 150 of those miles run through Luxembourg, through valleys and forests and towns along the Moselle River, a land that Brigitte Goergen knows quite a bit about personally.

"I am currently in Luxembourg and will not be able to contact you by phone," said the director of the Luxembourg National Tourist Office ( http://www.visitluxembourg.com, 212-935-8888) in an e-mail.

We were beginning to suspect the existence of a Luxembourg Uncertainty Principle. Then Goergen threw us a bone. "A great way to hike through Luxembourg is to hike from youth hostel to youth hostel," she wrote, and indeed the country's Youth Hostel Association ( http://www.youthhostels.lu, 011-352-26-27-66-40) has hiking-oriented packages that can be customized for your route. (Three-night stays start at about $174 per person.)

"Personally, I do not wish to arrive in a location with limited lodging and take my chances, but I know others, perhaps more adventurous, who would cherish the risk of unknown lodging," May said. For its part, the YHA strongly recommends advance reservations, especially in summer.

Unless, that is, you also cherish the risk of no lodging at all, in that alien, mysterious land that is Liechten-- er, Luxembourg.

My son and I are planning a road trip from Maryland to the Badlands of South Dakota, across Wyoming, through Yellowstone and back through Colorado and Missouri. We will be in a Suburban. How wise it is for us to take our fairly large dog (husky mix) with us?

Judy Hatton, Bowie

Sorry to be a pooch party pooper, but it's not wise at all, at least according to a majority of readers who weighed in on our Travel Log blog ( http://blog.washingtonpost.com/travellog). Some had attempted such a journey themselves ("Our dog . . . was miserable." "That's an awfully long time for an active breed to be cooped up in a car!"). Others chided owners who lie about Fido's presence to avoid paying a premium for pet-friendly rooms ("For those with pet dander allergies . . . checking into your room will ruin their trip pretty effectively") or told of over-affectionate dogs they'd met on vacation.

Still, for the intrepid, the trip can be done. There was advice on keeping your canine quiet in hotel rooms ("If you go out, turn on the TV . . . and the dogs will be less likely to bark. ESPN works well for my dogs") and tips on preventing upset stomachs ("Switch them to a bottled water about a week before you leave"). You can find lots more useful information on our blog, as well as on such Web sites as Pets Welcome ( http://www.petswelcome.com) and Pets on the Go ( http://www.petsonthego.com), the latter of which charges a $15 yearly fee.

Send queries to travelqa@washpost.com. Please include your name and town.


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