Final destination

May 14, 2018

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   Luxembourg is a country that is so small, when it came to naming its largest city, it wasn’t necessary to find a new name for it. They just named it Luxembourg, too. It’s like when they made that tiny little car and name it Le Car. Le Car simply wasn’t big enough to have a model name of its own, as if one would even fit on its rear panel. During my first day out and about in Luxembourg, I took a train to the farthest reaches of its border with Belgium. That took about an hour, during which it occurred to me that were I to become stranded in the middle of this country, I could still probably walk back to my hotel.

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   And you can no doubt tell by the jejune tone from this opening paragraph that I’ve also concluded that Luxembourg is the end of this six-weeks’ plus odyssey. I had originally planned to go onto Brussels, but I realized all I’d be doing was packing and unpacking Claude one more time, and taking a few different colored buses. It suddenly felt same old, same old, just as Luxembourg city seemed to be trying to resemble Paris, as if it were an exhibit in an amusement park themed as Cities of the World.

   I had to admit I was tired. I had ridden almost thirty trains, and walked in circles looking for my hotel in more than a dozen European cities. I’d done about five loads of wash. I ate paella in Spain and wonderful lasagna in Italy, achieving  two of my major goals. I looked for Jan Morris’s Spain, but didn’t find it. In short, I’d accomplished almost everything I’d set out to do on this trip, a testament to setting one’s sights comfortably low.

   I’d suffered not a single setback. Since I’d originally set out to do and see very little, all the rain I encountered had no dampening effect on my experiences. I saw a cathedral (Familia), a Roman ruin (in Bologna and Lubiana) and visited a museum (The Prado) for the better part of thirty minutes. And there was a bonus. All that walking around in circles led to me losing more than ten pounds during the six weeks, and that was with scarfing down a whole lot of gelato in Trieste.

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   And the big goal of the trip – riding the rails till my heart’s content – was achieved in spades. I rode some of the most beautiful trains, in some of the most lavish first class carriages, all of which exceeded my admittedly high expectations. (I have two major Amtrak trips coming up in June that I expect will exceed none of my even modest expectations.)

   Oh, about Luxembourg. There are three languages spoken here, in a country that barely needs one to get by. Luxembourgers speak French, German and Luxembourgish, which my Romanian breakfast server described as a mix of French, German and Pig-Latin. (I sensed she might be growing restless of her lot here.)

   I bought a bus pass for about $10. It permitted me to ride every bus, tram, funicular and local railroad in the city and country for forty-eight hours. I could have done it in twenty-four, of course, and there really wasn’t all that much to see. I don’t know how Luxembourg got to be its own country; it was as if, say, Buffalo, NY announced it was now an independent country, and the rest of the United States shrugged and  said, “Sure, okay.” I’m still glad I visited, so I know I needn’t include it on a future itinerary.     

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   I was glad i decided to check in with the information desk at the train station to confirm my train to Paris was still on schedule, despite the ongoing strike. It was, but I was also told that due to track work, I would have to take a bus to Bettenbourg to pick up the Paris train. I saw afterwards that had been stated on the Departures board, but I doubt I would have picked it up on my own.

   I slept well that night, knowing my decision to come home was the right one, having come upon it the way most of my decisions on this trip did: off the top of my head.

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