I am in the capital city of Luxembourg, sitting in the glassy downtown library. I have very limited time, because I just spent a large portion of my Internet time filling out a “next of kin” form for Tristanian authorities. It is a requirement when one is given passage aboard the S. A. Agulhas II research vessel from Cape Town to the island. So unless something catastrophic happens within the next month, I have been confirmed as a passenger to Tristan da Cunha. This is very exciting news, and I will tell Mark when we meet up again at 3 p.m. I am on my own for four hours as I visit the last of the bookstores (and bought nothing; I spent about 166 euros yesterday on books) and after I send this I am on my way to the postal museum. Tonight Mark and I are off to two more museums, which are free after 5 p.m.
Luxembourg is a quiet capital. The city closed down when we arrived shortly after 6 p.m. on Tuesday. I was expecting at least a news kiosk or a souvenir stand to be open, but everyplace in the old pedestrian-only part of town was closed. That wasn’t a problem, as we had lots of time to look at the shops yesterday and today, but I found the city all shut down for the night, with the exception of oodles of tourists walking up and down the cobbled Grand Rue, to be surprising.
Hardly anyone speaks German here, and I get by fine in French. One does hear Lëtzebuergesch, the local idiom, and it takes a lot of effort to understand them, yet I found Lëtzebuergesch easier to understand upon my first listen than Swiss German. The street signs are in French but sometimes you will see them in French and German. The sales staff are extremely friendly, and the entire country in our encounters with locals seems to be the same. I have taken many photos here, as well as in the small city of Esch-sur-Alzette, almost at the French border, which Mark and I visited by train yesterday. We took the CFL: the dark red and grey trains of the Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois. I hardly took any photos of Amsterdam at all. I was not impressed with the city, I am sorry to say. I found its souvenir stores vulgar: I couldn’t turn anywhere without bumping into a marijuana spliff fridge magnet or a prostitute postcard or any explicit sexual trinket. I was content to photograph the canals, the mailboxes and the trams.
It is almost 1 p.m., just enough time for a quick proofread then I have to go to the postal museum.