Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Long Way "Home"

Since coming to Europe, I have always been told that German trains are efficient and reliable like the people that run them. Then again, I was also told that it doen't snow in Mostar...and that's the irony of life. After leaving Graz, all went smoothly until the train to Munich was late, and consequently, the train from Munich. If someone ever asks you which European train station you'd like to be stuck in, pick Munich. It's huge, and busy enough to keep you occupied eating, shopping, and people-watching all day...or so I'm told. Unfortunately, I only spent about 3 minutes there because I made that connection but missed the next and was stranded in Saarsbrucken, a very cold, very closed station somewhere in western Germany. A policeman was kind enough to tell me I'd have to wait 3 hours for a train and then make 4 more connections in order to get to Namur, my final destination for the day, and I had no way to contact Elodie. After waiting 2 of those hours in a waiting room with some prostitutes, drug dealers, a nice Scandanavian couple and two terrified Asian tourists, I saw the info office open and spoke to a very kind woman who reminded me of my cousin Ranee searched her database 5 times to help me find the fastest connection to Namur. It came down to a choice between more waiting and risky connections with my Interrail ticket or paying 7 Euros for an immediate bus to Luxembourg and a train from there. I went with the bus and it was definitely the right choice as I got a friendly old driver who carried my bag for me, made jokes to make us all forget the fact that we'd been in a creepy, freezing station since the wee hours of the morning, whistled along to German and French songs on the radio, and gave a nice driving tour of little Luxembourg. All in all, I'd say I got more than my money's worth in utility...if nothing else, I can now confirm what I was always told about Luxembourg: it's a pretty boring, very expensive little country. And by little, I mean it has only one discernable city, the capital, which seems itself to be slightly larger than Mount Vernon. Actually, I felt at home...the crop fields look just like someone took a snowy Southern IL and shook it like a blanket so it has a few hills worked in. This is my first soujourn in a Francophone country, and when the first conductor came to ask for my ticket in French; I was absolutely astounded to hear myself respounding in the same language. After a couple more waits, I made it to Namur and managed to find Elodie and her family, who took me to their apartement and revived me with a delicious Sunday dinner and a warm shower. I must say, I've hqd enough adventure for one trip! Now all I'm up for is tackling this French keyboard, braving the improvement of my French pronunciation, and celebrating Christmas in true Belgian fashion!

1 comment:

Jane said...

Merry Christmas Leah! I feel so badly for you that your journey was such a challenge. It's amazing how well you weathered it. Hope you're having a wonderful Belgian Christmas with all of their special traditions. I hope your Christmas break and travels are full of great times and good memories.