Departing Belleau Wood…via the Scenic Route
Having wrapped up our visit to Belleau Wood by late afternoon, we needed to get on the road. We still had to drive to Luxembourg for our hotel reservations. Having been in the sun most of the day and having skipped lunch, we were a bit tired and hungry.
The easiest and fastest way to our hotel would have been to take the A4 highway…but there are of course no geocaches on the highway…There were some virtuals that I had identified, but we would have to take the scenic route…which is of course what we did.
Pope Urban II
We were taken in by the beauty of the countryside all around us. Our route took us along the Marne river valley, which is studded with vineyards and more Champagne bottlers than we could count. We were consciously avoiding highly trafficked routes and stuck to the secondary roads with smaller towns and villages. Our initial destination was towards a virtual cache, Pope Urban II (GCA257), which is a huge 30 meter statue of the pope that launched the first Crusade almost a thousand years ago.
We eventually arrived at the village it is located in, which was actually on top of a fairly steep hill. The GPS directions got us fairly close, but we needed to figure out how to actually walk to it.
Brooke and I exited the car, and we seemed to be headed in the right direction, but there was going to be more of a walk than I initially expected. Brooke wasn’t excited about climbing up to GZ, so we decided to split up and would meet back at the car.
I eventually made my way to the statue, which seemed to be located in the ruins of an old castle. Of course there was much more convenient parking nearby which I missed as we drove up. So I obtained the information required for the virtual, did a quick check and sure enough, was able to get a nearby traditional before heading back to the car. Much like the closer parking, there was a much easier walking route back to the car.
Our next stop was to the town of Châlons-en-Champagne. Here we found a Cathedral built in the 12th Century as is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It also happens to be one of the new virtual caches released last year, La Collégiale et son Cloître, GC7B916. The Cathedral was closed, but we took our time walking around and taking the beauty of it all in.
One reason we chose to come to this town was because there was another cathedral just a few kilometers down the road from this one. The La Basilique Notre Dame de l’Epine is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and just so happens to also be a new virtual cache as well, GC7BA7M.
The A4 and Paying Tolls
After collecting the information for this virtual cache, it was near sunset and well past our time to really head towards Luxembourg.
Much like my irrational fear of purchasing gas, I was also quite fearful of the toll system in France. We were very near the A4, which would greatly speed our journey, but I would have to figure out the toll system.
Thankfully, the internet had all sorts of information on the toll system. Turns out it is pretty simple. Grab a ticket at an entry point and then when leaving the highway, insert that ticket into the machine. It will tell you how much you owe and then you feed it some money. So, we approached our initial gate, grabbed our ticked and were on our way! Couple of hours later we were at the end of the highway, paid our ticket and continued north towards Luxembourg.
We finally made it to our hotel after midnight. It had been a long but fabulous day filled with the various trappings of human history. Again, two of my passions, history and geocaching, collided, bringing me to locations that I would probably have bypassed were I not a geocacher.