Saturday, August 26, 2006

Luxemburg Ville

Sunday, 13th of August, was my last jaunt of this Rhine-Mosel-Lux trip. The original plan was a trip to the Rhine and Mosel, but since my trail ends up in Trier and I will be passing through Luxemburg (also spelled as Luxembourg) on my way back to the Netherlands anyway, I might as well include the little country in my trip agenda.

Anywho --- The highway I was driving on was sitting on top of a lushly mountainous valley that spans through the periphery of Germany and Luxemburg. I saw the immigration port of entry booth, now completely abandoned. Suddenly, car plates with the letter L dots the highways. Ah, I am near to the civilization of Luxemburg land.

>>>Fast facts: Did you know that the European Schengen Treaty (freedom of EU citizens and residents to travel within the EU member countries) was executed in Luxemburg itself, in a small town called Schengen by the German and French triangular edge near the Mosel River in the south of the country?<<<

Luxemburg is an inland country bordered by Belgium, Germany and France. Its capital city, Luxemburg Ville is perched celestially above the Petrusse Valley and the Alzette River. For more information, here is Luxemburg City Tourist Office: LCTO

Since I could not find the Kopstal exit going to the direction of my hotel, I headed off to the city center instead. I noticed that the roads were partly old with patches here and there. They badly need maintenance. For a country with citizens hailed as the richest in Europe based on buying power per capita (see this old blog entry: Buying Power), I was not at all impressed.

I think I got used to the Dutch obsession of maintenance.

It’s the same as going to Belgium and Germany by train. You’d be in for a surprise. Having traveled excessively by trains in Holland, I thought the German and Belgian railway stations were lagged behind. Belgium, say, for 20 years, in safety and maintenance. Even the UK railway stations cannot come close to the spic ‘n span and well maintained Dutch railway stations.

Uh, I again digress...

Anyway, as I have said in my earlier travel review, my time in Luxemburg was awful. To read about how upsetting the turn of events were, please check this out: Nightmare on Vacation Street

In this entry though, I will talk about some of the things that I did and how I survived a Sunday afternoon, another night and a drippy Monday morning with a heavy heart in Luxemburg Ville.

1st foto: Grand Duchy of Luxemburg Palace, the young guard is wearing a beret, he is cute he-he. I wanted to take a close-up foto of him but I got shy; 2nd foto: a quaint alley; 3rd foto: a pretty and small bay window.

Me in a graded alley leading towards the massive stone wall fortifications of the city, the legendary Petrusse and Bock Casemates. Check out the interesting arch too... And these are the cafe-bars right across the alley (its 11AM when I took the foto so it looks like a ghost building), where Dutchman visits often when he is in Luxemburg.

Relieved to receive an SMS from the Dutchman stating he has already wired enough money to my debit account, I quickly created a visual plan on my mind on how to hold out the rest of the day. At this point, I still am very angry at myself because my Luxemburg plans were in total disarray. I was looking forward to visit Vianden, Echternach, Bourscheid, Esch-sur-Sure and Clervaux and now I can’t! So darn stupid of me! *slaps myself a 100x*

Since I have the whole day and evening at my disposal, and taking into consideration that Luxemburg Ville is small, I can take things in slow stride.

I followed the narrow alley with the interesting arch towards the Casemate walls that extends throughout the city and this is the view that met me, breathtaking Petrusse Valley and Alzette River.

Beautiful views of Luxemburg from the Casemate walls.

First on my list was to look for a hotel to stay. I have time on my hands to search for reasonably priced hotels, and sure enough, I found one. The hotel was at the back of one of Luxemburg’s most expensive hotels, Grand Hotel Cravat. The funny thing is, Cravat is the hotel the Dutchman usually stays with when he is in Luxemburg for business. Of course, he is not paying from his personal pocket, his company does. But yours truly, the Dutched Pinay will just have to settle for a cheapo hotel right at its back, lol.

The afternoon and evening went so unhurried, like a turtle crawling languidly to its finish line. After the nightmarish events, I just want the sun to go down real fast so I can sleep over what had happened, wake up to a brand new day, go to the police station, pay and reclaim the car and be on my way back to Holland. That’s all I want.


It is during these situations when you desperately want to be home...

1st foto: see those houses? They are literally carved as one with the rocks! 2nd foto: Due to the sieges of the city fortifications in the past, the Grund, located by the Petrusse Valley, once lead a very tumultous past. Now, with the handful lively English bars, it is a nice place to hang out in the evenings. Helaas, it was quiet on Sundays. The Dutchman says, the Luxemburgians go out on Wednesday nights, which is rather strange as it is the middle of the week.

We had to take a 10-minute break somewhere in the Petrusse Valley.

I took the mini train ride which was equipped with great audio effects. The train’s rickety-sounding body trotted along the banks of the Petrusse Valley, the audio narrating about Luxemburg’s grand and turbulent past. After the informative and impassioned (yeah the audio monologue was that dramatic) 1-hour mini train ride, I decided to take a long relaxing walk along the Liberty Avenue. The stretch resembled like Paris to me and I’d like to think that Luxemburg is a mini version of Paris too. Later, after dinner, I hung out in Place d’ Armes and sat down in a bench beside two 40ish-looking gays, while watching a symphony orchestra concert.

The music was delightful to my ears and to my still agitated system. BUT, waaah, I prefer to be at home! The whole damn orchestra act too, made me miss home and the Dutchman more. *sniffs*

That night while sipping my glass of white wine in a restaurant across the square, I thought --- I could have been home sitting in the sofa right now, wrapped in Dutchman’s arms, while he lectures me of my faults. The lecturing part quickly flew out though, out of the windows of my selective mind.

Place d’ Armes and the symphony orchestra playing on the theater stage. The 2nd foto shows the busy cafes surrounding the square.

It was really my intention to become tipsy so when I am back in my humble hotel, I will, in no time, be under the covers. The most unexpected thing that night was the bed itself: it was surprisingly very comfortable! What a consolation ha-ha, it was the best bed that I have ever slept in with, in my entire Rhine-Mosel-Lux trip! At the least, I had a great nights sleep, I was very well rested.

The next morning I was half-awakened by rhythmic sounds: tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tick, and tock-tock. I first thought... perhaps, someone upstairs is up early and could be wearing high heels while running around getting ready in her hotel room. But the sound didn’t stop. By this time, I was already almost 100% awake. I realized that the tick-tock sounds were coming from the open window. It seems to be raining outside? Could it be that the rain drops were responsible for the melodious clang?

I suddenly jumped out of bed and ran to the windows --- Shit, bad start of the day, it is really raining.

My plan was to walk from the hotel (which is located in the center) to the police station. The journey will take me at least 10 minutes, but now, I can’t walk soaked under the pouring rain, right?! Ugh.

After breakfast was served, I checked out. Time watch: its a few minutes before 8AM.

Outside the small hotel, the city of Luxemburg begins to wake up on a wringing-wet Monday morning. Despite the downpour, there were many men and women walking with their umbrellas in the streets to their work places. The cars begin to fill up the roads too.
More of Luxemburg: Touristy directional signs in the city center and the cafe facing the Clairefontaine square in a quiet section of the city where the waitress accidentally threw the wine glass on my lap... yeah, an added insult to injury, eh? I think the waitress apologized a dozen times.
>>>More fast facts: Did you know that due to the strong financial economy of Luxemburg, many Belgians, Germans and French cross the borders everyday to work in the city? These on-the-road expats benefit from high salaries and less taxation. How lucky!<<<

I need not look further for a taxi. There were two taxi cabs parked across, by the entrance to the Grand Hotel Cravat. When I inspected the cabs, there were no chauffeurs in it though. It seems that the cars were just parked there the whole night and the chauffeurs were gone some place else, perhaps, still sleeping in their cots?

While anxiously searching and waiting for another taxi to pass by, a silver-colored sedan swiftly parked in front of me. A bit plump-looking old lady with a concerned look spread across her face emerged out of the auto. She walked up to me and spoke softly, in Lëtzebuergesch [Luxemburgish, the national language, I believe is a mixture of French and German]. I said I only speak English. She quickly switched to English, “What are you looking for, Madame?”
I thought – I must look old, she called me Madame. “Oh, I am waiting for a taxi. The taxi cabs right down there have no chauffeurs in them.”

“Let me check…” she said walking quickly towards the cabs and inspecting them. She came back and reported, “Yes, you are right, there are no chauffeurs. Have you asked the reception inside the hotel for help?”

“No, I did not.” --- Well she thought I was booked in Grand Hotel Cravat, lol, I wish.

And, more pictures of Luxemburg, taken at the Place de la Constitution. Pretty colorful gardens displaying a row of Luxemburg flags. The 2nd foto is the insignia of the country, the Grand Duke Adolphe Bridge built in 1903.

The Grand Duke Adolphe Bridge leads to the Liberty Avenue that is festooned with exquisite looking buildings. The whole setting just reminds me of Paris.

She right away went inside and asked the reception about the whereabouts of the taxi chauffeurs. The two reception guys who were busy doing a tête-à-tête replied sarcastically, “We don’t know, the hotel is not responsible for them. We are not their keepers!” - I don’t know how I managed to understood Luxemburgish but I knew 100% that’s what they said.

The old lady, still very much concerned, asked me where I am going. I told her I need to be at the police station to reclaim my car that was towed yesterday Sunday by the police. She then told me, “I can help you. I can bring you to the police station. Just wait here, I will be back. I just need to go inside the hotel to pick up a child.”
Oh my, I don’t know if I can turn down such mercy! Just when I needed help, an angel came to my rescue.

I waited outside and after a few minutes, she came out of the hotel doors with a little girl in her hand. She said, she is to baby sit the little girl, whose mother is working in Grand Hotel Cravat, for the day.

This is the funny man roaming around the streets of Luxemburg Ville. He is dressed in a blue cross & white flag with a gladiator-viking-like red mask and hat. In his hands, he has two flags, a huge European Union flag and a small Greek flag. I think he is a looney, lol. He kept screaming undecipherable phrases, perhaps Greek? Well, the public loved him though. He was an amusement.

During the ride to the police station, the old plumpish lady with silver-like curly tousled up hair told me that I may have to get the car from another place, maybe somewhere near the airport, where they normally keep impounded vehicles. She volunteered, “I can wait for you while you pay in the police station and bring you to your car.”

At this point, I was saying to myself --- This is too good to be true. To meet noble people who readily helps a foreign stranger in a crisis, is like gambling. In addition, I am a skeptic bitch at times and even though the old lady was quite forthcoming and thinking only for my behalf, I could not help but ask the big question: W-H-Y? If it was a man, I would definitely not take the free ride. If it was a woman who doesn’t look decent enough, I would not too. I always trust my reliable doubting Thomas instinct.

After paying the exorbitant charges *painfully sobs, hu-hu-hu*, I asked the police where the car was stored and how am I going to get there. “We will bring you to your car. Its part of what you have paid.” the police said.

I excused myself and quickly dashed under the rain to the car where the old lady and the little girl were waiting. I told her that the police will bring me to my car, and, paused for a few seconds (for drama effects, lol) before I let out my thank you - my deep gratitude for helping this petite Madame in distress.

I didn’t really know how to stress out my gratefulness, so while she was backing up the car, I was tempted to ask her name. But, I did not. I just waved my hand - Goodbye.

Some things in life just need to end up the way it is, I guess.

Tags: Koblenz, Stolzenfels Castle and Boppard, Tries-Karden, Burg Eltz, Muden and Cochem, Traben-Trarbach, Bernkastel-Kues and Trier

P.S. Do check this very informative expatriate site, Expat Interviews. Click on it please. Cheers!

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