Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I've Got a Lovely Bicycle

I awoke this morning feeling a million times better (still a bit sniffly, but much better).
After breakfast, I took a stroll through the weekly farmers market at the Place de Guillaume II, where they had a lovely array of fruits and flowers. Sadly, I was stuffed from breakfast, so I didn't try anything.

I then did something shocking....I rented a bicycle! They have those bike that lock up automatically and you rent them for like €1/hour and you can return it to any station in the city. I rode it cautiously at first, only on the sidewalks, but then I was riding in traffic without a care - and also without a helmet. It was liberating to be so reckless. I must say though that people here (and likewise in Paris and Amsterdam) ride bicycles differently than they do in Vancouver. First of all they are better dressed - men in suits and women in dresses. People in Vancouver slap on the reflective spandex just to commute to work. Second, people in Europe don't ride their bike like maniacs. In Vancouver people are dodging in and out of traffic, always racing. Here everyone seems to ride at a leisurely pace, perhaps so they don't get swetay in their fine clothes. Anyway, it was fantastic.
me on my bicycle
I ended my ride at the train station, where I caught a train to Clervaux, in the middle of the picturesque Ardennes, which makes up Northern Luxembourg. It took 50 minutes to get there. Clervaux is slightly larger than Esch-Sur-Sure, but not by much. It seemed especially sleepy. All the stores seemed to be closed, I didn't see anyone driving or doing much of anything really, except sipping coffee and walking slowly. It was quite lovely. Everyone there seemed to speak either German or Luxembourgish, not English or French.
I went to Clervaux Castle to see the Family of Man exhibit. The Family of Man is a photography exhibit but together in the 1950s at the Met in New York. It showcases photos of people from around the work taken by a wide-ranging group of photographers. The idea was to show people from everywhere engaging in similar activities to show how people are are fundamentally alike. (Since it is from the 1950s, I suppose it is a reaction to WWII and the Cold War). It is very sentimental, but effective and I quite enjoyed it. I had also planned to visit a museum dedicated to Bettle of the Ardennes, but discovered that from October to May it is only open Sundays.
Cathedral in Clervaux
After a coffee, I returned to Luxembourg City...and to my bicycle. This time, I rode down a crazy, windy hill to the Petrusse Valley and to Grund. I rode the length of the valley and back again. There were any cars on the path I was on, so I could ride as fast as I liked. At one point, which stopped on the bike, some Japanese tourists took photos of me. I suppose I shall end up in someone's photo album in Kyoto as an example of a Luxemburg commuter.
I then visited the National Museum of History and Art. It has 2 floors of contemporary Luxemburgish art, including an exhibit by an artist called Foni Tissen, whose work I quite liked. The other floors were devoted to renaissance and medieval works, of which I have seen better collections, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. (Wow, that sounds snobbish!) The lower two floors were all ancient history stuff - Translation: rooms of clay pots and bits of clay pots and bits of metal that once formed part of something useful.
I had falafel for dinner. I had planned to go for something fancier, but it was 6:00 and I was hungry. I am never in Europe long enough to get on to their eating schedule.  All the restaurants close or stop serving food between like 3 and 8pm here and, well, I get too hungry for dinner at eight.
I had a cigar at the hotel bar and then went out for a stroll.
It is so warm here today; even this evening i didn't need a jacket.
The city is very busy tonight. The restaurants and bars are literally overflowing - people milling about outside with their drinks in excited groups. One street even rolled out a red carpet that stretched for several blocks and all of the shops were serving champagne to people on the street. I wanted to mingle there, but it was a very well-heeled crowd and i did not fit in.
I must say that the men here are all very well dressed in nice suits. It looks like a whole city of lawyers and investment bankers, and it probably is.
Tomorrow i head to Echternach in the area known as "little Switzerland", where i shall be staying the night.
Gutt Nuecht.

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