Category Archives: London life

Kayaking the Sure

One thing we have noticed during our short stay in Luxembourg is that people seem to be noticeably friendlier than in the Netherlands. Of course, we are only speaking to people whose job it is to be friendly and helpful. But in Luxembourg they seem to be friendlier and more helpful than in other places. It feels like they go beyond what would be necessary to be of service.

Luxembourg may have the best transportation deal in the European Union for only €4 you can travel anywhere in the country on any form of publication transport for an entire day. By London’s standard, this equals the greatest deal of all time. For example, for me to travel from Greenwich to the Strand and back cost £3.5 (this means I need to walk about twenty minutes each way, skipping the tube). It is common for Londoners to take perverse pride in the inefficiency and obscene cost of public transportation. However, it is much more pleasant to actually travel on publication transportation that is affordable and efficient.

Another observation that I had with travelling in the Netherlands and Luxembourg is that the language Dutch is much closer sounding to English than French. When I was in the Netherlands, I often thought that I was listening to English when indeed the people were speaking in Dutch. This is of course because English and Dutch share West Germanic ancestors.

Yesterday, I related a sequence of events which included the death of my camera. Last night, when we returned to our room, I took out the camera recharger to prepare for the next day’s photography. Jeff asked what the charger was for, and I responded for the camera. Jeff had to remind me that the camera was no more. Phantom electronics. Since we still have two more stops and I have recently purchased a Flickr account, not having a camera was a dismal prospect for me to entertain. This morning, we broke down and bought a new camera. Jeff convinced me that finishing our vacation without a camera would be unthinkable for me. Funny how neither of us thought it was more important to know the time.

After buying the new camera, we took first a train and then a bus to a nearby village called Dillingen. Here we rented a kayak to float down the River Sure to Echternach. The company was swamped with campers who were staying in the countryside near the river. Although I didn’t think the river was very busy, Jeff said that it felt we were on a freeway. I guess he is used to paddling in the empty spaces of Canada. Despite the crowds, it was a very pleasant day, especially since the section of river we travelled was very beautiful. Every once and a while, we would see swans and ducks. I often dipped my fingers into the cool water until a nest of seaweed threatened to capture them forever. I admit Jeff was doing all the work, as I sat in the front and finished The Underground Man. We finished two hours later in Echternach, a pretty but touristy village. From here, we caught the bus back to the capital. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures during the kayaking because the camera had to charge for several hours before it could be put into use.

However, when we returned to the hostel, we were able to take some pictures. Here’s the view from which I am blogging:

Tomorrow, we leave the Duchy of Luxembourg for Bruges. That will mark the beginning of the end of our journey.

“The city, too, bombards him. He sees decades and centuries, poverty and wealth, grace and vulgarity. He sees a kaleidoscope of time and mood: buildings that ape Gothic cathedrals, that remember Greek temples, that parade symbols and images. He sees columns, pediments and porticos. He sees Victorian stucco, twentieth-century concrete, a snatch of Georgian brick. He notes the resilience and tenacity of the city, and its difference.” —Penelope Lively‘s City of the Mind (p. 3)