Day Eight: Brussels to Luxembourg

Wow, what a day.

I was anticipating it to be a smooth day transiting to Luxembourg but was I wrong. Writing this now at the end of day I can have a bit of a giggle but at the time I wanted to run back to Belgium (easy enough to do considering its 25km to the border).

I woke up with a moderate headache, my first headache in weeks so I quickly took my medication and some panadol before opening up the curtains. With one hand on each curtain, I swiftly opened them and felt my eyes burn into the front of my brain and they were quickly shut again. There wasn’t any way I was going to do my walking tour of Brussels so I went back under the covers. 45 to 60 minutes later, I felt a lot better so I had a ham and cheese sandwich and water for breakfast and packed everything to leave. As per my navigation, it would take me 2 hours and 17 minutes traveling 231km to get to Luxembourg. It took a little longer as part of the highway was being redone and we had to go 70km/hr instead of the usual 120km/hr. About halfway, the fuel light came on and as with other areas, a service station would soon be available but apparently the next one was 86km from where I was. I started to back off from the accelerator and coast at 105-110km/hr. I finally got to the border and I was in Luxembourg! Beautiful forests line the highway and many bridges reveal how mountainous the area is. On arrival to the service station, they do it a bit differently in Luxembourg. You fill your car then drive to what appears as a toll gate where you tell the little man your pump number and then tap and go. It was most efficient as the person waiting behind you can fill up whilst you pay.

Soon enough, I was pulling off the highway and after a couple of streets, was in Rue de Hamm. As per the hotel website and on the online booking site, there was parking available in the area for €1 per hour. Just for the purposes of checking in, I paid for 15 minutes before deciding to move the car to another location. I grabbed my backpack and another bag of goodies and opted to leave the suitcase in the boot. The hotel is the second and third floor above a restaurant operated by the same people. I knocked on the doorway and entered. The lady in the restaurant shooed me away and told me that I can’t check in until 5.30pm. I said I wanted to put my backpack upstairs so my expensive chocolate wouldn’t melt. She reluctantly gave me the key and walked off. My room is beyond basic, I actually scoffed. A single bed with a pillow as thick as my little finger and a bathroom so small the door hits the toilet and then the frame of shower when you open it. Even the toiletries that are supplied are single use sachets and not little bottles. I didn’t let this bother me so I dropped off my bag and asked the lady where I can park. She basically said I can’t as it is all residential parking but I can pay the €1 per hour for a maximum of 3 hours only. I said that the hotel website is misleading as I specifically chose this place as it had parking. I didn’t get a response.

I paid the €3 to get parking until the end of the day and I went for a walk to find somewhere/anywhere to park. I walked down this pretty park to another street with lovely houses pressed against the rock hill. I made a left turn and followed the road. I was watching some eagles overhead squawking and riding the thermals until I started to hear a roar. The last time I heard this was in Japan when the fighter jets were overhead but only this time, it was double if not triple as loud. Soon enough, an Airbus A380 had appeared just over the tree line and was ascending at great speed. So yes, my hotel it directly at the end of the international runway. Ah the serenity.

I turned back and looked up where the closest train station was to get into the city centre. It was a 20 minute walk and on arrival, it wasn’t traveling into the city centre and the signs recommended taking the bus. Thankfully trusty Google helped and I got on the number 29 bus into Luxembourg central station. I got out of the bus and realised that the central station wasn’t actually central, it was still 4km away from the middle of town. As per the map printed on the bus shelter, I took the number 15 bus and of course, it went the friggin opposite way. So I jumped off in the middle of god-knows-where and waited 15 minutes for a return bus. After some deep breathing exercises, I got into the city centre and looked around some of the streets until I found the Tourist information centre. There were three people in there at computers and I stood there in front of them until I faked coughed and I was finally served. I asked about parking and explained my situation. He said there was a way to fix this and then got up and left before telling me. I was completely puzzled. A girl sat back into his chair and pursued to serve others around me. My temper was starting to reach boiling point at this stage and boy, did they notice. She said something in German around the corner of their desk to the bloke who had initially served me and then he magically appeared again and we started back at square one. There is a parking lot of the other side of town that I can use for free and then hop on the number 15 bus which takes me via the city centre out towards my hotel by the runway. Brilliant I thought, I will drop off the car tomorrow.

Now that I was feeling a bit more relieved that I knew I had somewhere to store the car, I started to look around the central dining and marketplace. There were many restaurants to choose from and they were surrounded by luxurious showrooms of diamonds and handbags. I read the menu of one place and thought that would be a good place for dinner in a further 30-60 minutes so I could look around first.

I found a lovely church called Église Saint-Alphonse and a theatre called Capucins. Before I could read any information about the two, the heavens opened up and I ran for cover. I stood undercover for what seemed like ages so I darted between shop fronts until I got back to the restaurant and got a table. I ordered a couple of Luxembourg tradition meals. I had celery soup for entree which was more like a pea and ham soup with a slight aniseed flavour. For main I had Wëinzoossiss mat Moschterzooss un gromperepurée which is a white wine sausage with mustard sauce and mashed potato. It was delicious and very simple - it was what I needed after getting soaked in the rain.

After dinner, I had a look in some of the little stores before getting on my lucky number 15 bus back to the hotel to formally check in. At the restaurant reception I explained about the parking and how I was disappointed because I booked this place purely on the parking availability and how it hasn’t turned out that way; especially for $95 per night. He said that if I go and park in the industrial estate two streets away, I can stay all day for €5 but I have to put the car there now. Mind you, it was raining that heavily it was like looking through a silk screen.

I moved the car once it stopped raining and had a shower with my single use sachets. I should try and sleep as one of first flights leaving from the bloomin’ runway is pretty early as they are literally landing right above me. One positive is that it gives me a cool breeze through the when they’re overhead.