This is going to be a short post - mostly because I haven't used this particular techno-setup before, so I'm not entirely sure that it's going to work! The lightweight Lenovo laptop I had originally bought to take along on this trip didn't make it back from the Lenovo service depot, alas - shortly after I started using it, I noticed that it got hot enough to potentially burn through my hiking shorts, so I dropped it off a few weeks ago to have it serviced. Alas.
So! Instead, I'm using an Anker wireless keyboard along with an iOS app that my partner Dan set up for me... which works with Dropbox, which requires decent data service... and right now I'm apparently on the Luxembourg post office's mobile phone network, which so far hasn't exactly been super stable, so here goes nothing!
Today went like this: By some miracle, I slept through the night OK. I wasn't expecting to given that the streetcar ran right underneath my window and the room next door sounded like it was party central for North African migrants with iPhones with broken mute buttons (seriously, at some point, there were so many ringtones going off that I accidentally got to hear a real-time approximation of that Steve Reich marimba single-serving website). Wild.
Breakfast was just fine; I got to tick off all of my French breakfast favorites. Cafe au lait, pain au chocolate, madeleines, baguettes with butter and honey, and some lovely stinky cheeses. All of that was a steal - the room and breakfast cost about US $50, which is far less than I could ever imagine paying at home in San Diego.
Today's itinerary was relatively straightforward (except perhaps for transport): see all the museums in Strasbourg, climb the cathedral, see Parliament if there was time, and then scoot along to the beginning of the Moselsteig. Museums were just fine; the most memorable bits were the lovely woman at the modern art museum asking me exactly how many museums I wanted to see (and which ones!) so that I didn't accidentally buy a day pass if it were going to cost me more. So kind! (I bought it regardless.) I saw and watched Bruce Nauman slather himself with white and eventually black makeup, there was the first Magritte sculpture I think I'd ever seen, and the rest of it... ehhh. The Alsatian museum was more or less a Skansen type deal (yawn), the museums near the cathedral were Not My Kind Of Thing (although there were one or two cool posters from the 1940s that I dug), the Tomi Ungerer museum was Sooo Not My Kind Of Thing, but the Aubette was super cool, especially thanks to the friendly fella who showed me around the place. It's the kind of place I'd love to hang out at if it were still a nightclub and not a museum.
Time was running out, so I hopped the beautiful hugely windowed streetcar out to the Human Rights building and back. Some paranoiac Brit had plastered part of the Human Rights station with screeds discussing how the European Illuminati (?) were out to get him (and Blair was out to steal his blood, I think?)... whoa. What is it about English speaking countries and paranoid conspiracies? I swear I've never seen anything that out there in German, for example). There was a massive fair going on with all kinds of cool looking places to eat (and a live Steely Dan cover band!), but I didn't get a chance to stop by. Oh, and the likely title holder for Hot Cop, Beardy Variant was working security out there, so, like, le woof.
Back at the train station, I checked out the first class lounge (because I had paid the extra $2 for a first class ticket), which was lovely in a totally deserted kind of way, so I took the opportunity to repack my bags and fill up my water bottles from their taps. A quick trip to Monoprix for rose wine and a ham sandwich et voila, I was ready for the trip to Luxembourg.
Just before the train pulled out of the station, half a dozen police boarded - hmm, who knows, but whatever was going on must have been resolved somewhere between Strasbourg and Metz. It started raining, the countryside was green, filled with rolling hills, and honestly it looked like summertime was in full effect. Towards Thionville things started looking kind of downmarket, we crossed the Moselle, and teenagers saluted the train with Italian vaffanculo gestures and middle fingers. Quaint!
Arriving in Luxembourg felt an awful lot like arriving in Irvine, CA. It looked like business, with plenty of nondescript, expensive looking buildings. I got some cash, bought a two-hour bus ticket, and found the bus to Mondorf, which was a pleasant spot to wait for the connecting bus to Schengen. Amusingly, France was about a ten second walk across a tiny pedestrian bridge, so I got to go back to France for a few seconds.
The bus to Schengen was missing its fancy screen display with information about upcoming bus stops, so I asked the driver if he'd tell me when we got to Schengen Koerech stop, which he happily agreed to. From there, it was just a short walk downhill to the tiny castle and the wacky-looking European Union museum thrown up to celebrate the Schengen accord (closed). Up and over the Mosel, down a staircase, and then it was only a few meters to the Maimuehle hotel, where I'm typing this now. The friendly hotelier apologized for the unfinished state of the window repairs in my room (whatever, I never would have noticed if he hadn't had told me), pointed out the next door restaurant for a light bite to eat, and said goodnight until breakfast. I had a couple of sausages and a glass of rivaner and that's all she wrote. There's a lovely view of Luxembourg vineyard from my room, it seems quiet enough (well, until the freight trains start up later in the night, always a possibility), and I hope to get a good night's sleep before the Moselsteig begins tomorrow!