Moselle Mike Quaide
© Pancake! Photographie

The Good Life An American in Luxembourg

4 minutes

Äddi ciao tipptopp

Mike McQuaide, “An American in Luxembourg”, is an enthusiastic ambassador for beautiful places and interesting encounters, and prefers to travel on two wheels. When he’s not writing a book, he documents his experiences on YouTube, Instagram and the like. When you get to know him, you meet a person who openly cycles through the country with an almost childlike, cheerful gaze and collects one thing above all: positive encounters.

Rows of theatre seats made of stone form a semi-circle. In the centre, a man is visible only as a dark silhouette in the backlight of the early morning, surrounded by the first autumn fog. He stands in a heroic pose, his hand raised, the skull firmly in his grip and gaze. “To be or not to be; that is the question here: whether nobler in mind to suffer the slings and arrows of furious fortune, or ...” 

Hang on a minute! It can’t be! That’s not Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it’s Mike McQuaide. And the expatriate American is not holding a skull in his hand, but his smartphone. He is making one of his well-known and muchloved selfie videos. “Moien! What’s up? Ech sinn de Mike!” He shoots the short film early in the morning from the Roman amphitheatre in Dalheim.

Mike Quaide Schengen
© Pancake! Photographie

A vlogger through passion

Mike McQuaide has lived in Luxembourg since 2013. His wife had a job offer in the Grand Duchy at the time, so the McQuaide family packed their bags and moved from Seattle. Mike, who was a journalist in the USA for many years, worked as an English teacher, but also  continued to write articles. In them, he processes his new life in Luxembourg. Various passions come together for him: sport and especially cycling; getting to know the country and its people; and telling entertaining stories. “An American in Luxembourg” was born. 

These experiences were first compiled in a book, which was published in 2017 and received an audience award in 2018. And of  course in the form of short, funny videos “on the road”, which now have a large following at home and abroad. The mobile phone is always there as a camera when Mike gets on his bike and rides off to discover Luxembourg. 

He doesn’t own a car, also for the sake of the environment. From his home in the capital, he prefers to use the country’s free public transport and his bike. Today, on this sunny autumn day, when the first leaves have already changed colour, Mike is riding his bike through the Moselle region. The route follows – coincidentally – to a large extent the Roman Road, which leads from Dalheim via Remerschen, Wellenstein, Grevenmacher and Mertert to Echternach.

Mike Quaide Dahlheim
© Pancake! Photographie

After the brief intermezzo in the theatre, Mike swings himself onto his black carbon bike in the direction of Mondorf-les-Bains. You can see immediately that he enjoys cycling. He smiles, makes jokes, greets other cyclists. The road gets steeper, and Mike lifts himself out of the saddle, the frame swinging energetically back and forth. Suddenly, we are struck by the full impact of the beautiful landscape: fog between the hills and trees. It is dreamlike.

In Mondorf-les-Bains, Mike steers his bike towards the park and dismounts. The only spa town in the country has a large thermal bath. Inside: a wellness oasis with sauna, spa, fitness and many treatments. The park around it is ideal for taking a stroll, having a break – and meeting people. Everyone meets in Mondorf: politicians, actors and other prominent Luxembourgers are out and about here. “Hey, isn’t that André Mergenthaler over there?” Behind the fountain depicting a scene from the Luxembourg fable “D’Maus Kätti”, a slender man with a bald head, glasses, sports bag, black jacket and sweatpants saunters by. Yes, it’s him! The cellist from the south of the country is at home in various musical genres – “everything except classical”. “Hi, how are you?” asks Mike, grinning broadly. André is in a good mood. He has just done some light fitness exercises to balance out his cellist’s posture. He comes here twice a week. André is also a bike fan, “I’m like a little boy”, he says; at home he has lots of vintage bikes and a new gravel bike. The two talk shop for a while about their bikes. “Bikes are the common language,” says Mike, and André nods. Like music.

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Little village, well-known

We continue on to the village of Schengen. It was here that the Schengen agreement was signed, making it easier for people to cross borders in the EU. A huge star-shaped sculpture covered in noble rust stands on the promenade, where lovers have attached engraved padlocks. You can feel his enthusiasm as Mike searches for his padlock. “There! Look: Äddi ciao tipptopp! My sign-off at the end of my videos!” he says, turning the padlock in his hand. “Have you seen the columns with the nations? I think it’s cool how figuratively the countries are depicted. And that you can also read the original names of the countries.”

The next moment a blonde woman approaches him, beaming. “It’s really you, isn’t it? Mike McQuaide. I love your videos!” Tania is around 50 and a big bike fan. Her family owned a bicycle shop for years. And she knows the famous Luxembourg racing cyclists, the Schleck brothers, personally. “I’ve met them too!” says Mike. “Mondorf is, after all, their hometown. I once stood in front of a huge photo of Fränk Schleck and imitated the winning pose for fun and posted it. And you know what? Fränk saw it on social media and asked me if I wanted to go cycling with him. And that’s what we did! So cool!”

From Schengen, it’s just a short pedal to the Markusberg viewpoint above the village. “I love it. In Schengen you can experience the significance of Europe on the one hand, and on the other hand it’s a picturesque little wine village. The Biodiversum nature reserve in Remerschen is also great, and not far away at all.”

Mike Quaide Mondorf-les-Bains
© Pancake! Photographie

But Mike is not stopping there today. Instead, he continues on to Wellenstein, a scenic village which charms with its secret little nooks and crannies. Behind the wrought-iron gate near a rural tourism apartment, an original passageway opens up, with no fewer than five stone archways in a row.

Someone is speaking English with an American accent?! The next fans to recognise Mike are Americans themselves! Justin is looking for a LUXEMBOURGflat, together with his Luxembourgish mother-in-law. He wants to make Luxembourg his home. Blake from California is a professional basketball player and has been living in Wellenstein for a few months. Mike takes selfies. He is in a good mood and then becomes pensive. His son is no older than the two young men, he says: “At the end of the week, my wife and I are flying to the USA. We’re going to visit our son in California. I’m looking forward to it. We haven’t seen him for a long time,” Mike says. The son, who came to Luxembourg as a teenager and grew up there, has not yet found a place to settle. He wavers between Luxembourg and America. Not so for Mike: “I know the USA well enough. My place is here now.”

A train to go back home

Over gently winding roads, we then travel via Greiveldange to Grevenmacher, where it gets busier. The Moselle shows its other side: cargo shipping. Containers and open goods are transported. Gravel, scrap metal, food and more find their way to their recipients via the river. At the lock, the last attraction of the day awaits, the sawn-off hull of a container ship that has been converted into a lookout point.

Mike climbs onto the bow and lets his gaze wander over the lock and the Moselle. But then he looks at his watch. “Oh, my train is leaving Wasserbillig soon! I have to go!” Quick as lightning, he is down at the promenade and swings onto his bike. Of course, not without his favourite Luxembourgish words: “Äddi ciao tipptopp!”

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