10 July 2009

2006: the Road to Luxembourg

10 July

Last night, Els promised I would have wonderful weather today to make up for yesterday. She must know Someone Important because it dawned bright and warm. And, the drive started well, right on time to be in Leuven, Belgium, at noon to pick up Johan (a good friend and fellow chessplayer) for our mini-vacation to Luxembourg.

Until I found myself about 40 miles west of where I started the day, which is almost 100 miles from where I wanted to be. And I don't know how I turned off. The highway signs were sparse, and I was just beginning to wonder why Antwerpen (Antwerp) wasn't among the towns upcoming when I found myself in Zeeland, the very end of the road on the western coast.

So, one missed intersection, a decision that put a dent in an otherwise-beautiful day. What could possibly go wrong now?

Well, more "correct" decisions that encountered other problems:

# Taking the toll tunnel towards Ghent, in order to "save time by spending money" only to find this is the one furthest west and farther north than I thought

# Getting to a bridge that crosses one of the largest canals, only to be stopped by the bridge structure changing directions to allow a huge container ship to use that airspace (20 minutes worth of wait, along with everyone else)

# Public works projects left for the summer because the weather is so nice, works that require folks to sit in very long queues waiting for traffic in the other direction to stop.

# OK, enough already. Johan and I made it to Luxembourg. We didn't die. We didn't get maimed. We actually had a pretty good time.

Of course, the good time was courtesy of our host, Johny, who lives in Differdange, about 25 sometimes-confusing minutes or so driving time from Luxembourg City. His home sits adjacent the local police station, and is the size of a very large townhome. He treated us to a sumptuous BBQ feast upon arrival, and his roommate, Babe (yes, really), provided her expertise, which included the best garlic butter I've ever tasted. The vegetables were home-grown, and the dogs, cats, and friendly friends numerous.

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