(Using a different flag today because the title is so similar to the last post.)
My first trip to Lux was in 1995, and I wrote about it here. I enjoyed the first trip so much that I went back just a year later. I was in a new job, in a more senior role, which was probably just as well. This time, I had a longer break, and flew to Paris, where I picked up a rental car. I would’ve only have been driving for a year and this was probably my first rental. I drove from Paris all the way to Luxembourg (about 4 hours) – I think that because I hadn’t been driving long, I was surprised when that short line on the map took far longer in reality. I arrived late in Luxembourg – I’d enjoyed my hotel the first time around so stayed in the same place this time around.
With wheels, my range increased and I enjoyed a lot more of Luxembourg. I had several days to see what was a very green country, forests (Luxembourg is essentially in the middle of the Black Forest, or Schwarzwald) with lots of cultivated fields and agriculture. North-east of my hotel, I found the beautiful town of Echternach, right on the border with Germany. Very picture-postcard, very medieval, very Germanic, this town was even more pleasant than Luxembourg Ville. I made a mental note.
Echternach lies on the River Sûre, and in fact the river forms many miles of the border between Luxembourg and Germany. There was significant fighting here as the allies advanced in 1945, and of course many readers will recognise Bastogne in the map above.
On the Sunday I again underestimated my distances, and drove up to Spa, in Belgium (off map), to watch the grand prix. My only grand prix – it was very loud, very expensive, and you get a much better view on tv. But all sporting events are better on tv, I find. It’s nice to watch something live because of the atmosphere, but you’ll get a better view in your armchair. Even then, though, I had only a passing interest in motorsport (non-existent now) so was satisfied with just this once – I can say I’ve done it, but the experience got it out of my system and I was never even the slightest bit interested in going to another.
Tired after the drive, I got back to the hotel, only to be greeted by the sound of the Rolling Stones, who were playing a concert in the next valley (it seemed like the next room!). No thank you. I can barely stand them at the best of times, certainly not at the end of a long and tiring day.
The next day was my last. Back to Paris, hookup with a friend, then flying home the day after. At least, that was the plan. But I hadn’t counted on…friction (lack of)!
I was about to step into the shower. It was a good, powerful shower, exactly what you’d expect in a five-star hotel, and I remember thinking That might be slippery, I must be careful.
And so began my acquaintance with the Luxerbourg Health Service! I remained conscious, complete with dislocated shoulder, and with the help of the concierge, managed to get some trousers on. The concierge got a taxi for me, and I ended up in the Clinique Sacré-Coeur.
Of all the things to remember, I met an Irish guy there who was coming in to have his ingrowing toenail sorted… just before I passed out.
When I came to, I was in a hospital bed. My shoulder was very sore but at least now looked like everything was where it should be. After resting for a few hours, they discharged me later that day.
Obviously my hookup in Paris wasn’t going to happen, as I rested up for the night still in lots of pain. The hotel were happy for me to stay the extra night, though helpful as they were, they made sure they still charged me for it. I suppose I should not have expected any favours, anyway. Although I cancelled my night out, I didn’t wish to cancel my flight, which was the following afternoon, so the next day, the day after I dislocated my shoulder, I found myself driving back along the autoroute to Charles de Gaulle airport.
I suppose when I wonder now whether I could drive one-handed, there is my answer! In fact, I have often thought that just getting hold of a left-hand-drive car, especially an automatic, would solve my problems altogether. Anyway, on arrival at Charles de Gaulle, finally some good news – the airline check-in staff had taken pity on my sling and upgraded me to Business! The only time it has happened in my life. For a 40-minute flight 🙂.
At least in the UK I was on home soil, though driving (right-hand drive) was near impossible and I must’ve driven all the way back home (Oxford) in fifth gear.
Work the next day – well, obviously there was no work the next day! In fact I was off the whole week waiting for the pain to ease, and still wasn’t properly recovered when I did go back. That was, I suppose, lucky in that for that short time, I could get away with just being in telephone contact with them. There was politics going on at the time anyway, so it was as well I was out of the way.
Not quite the end of the story. A full nine months later, onto my mat dropped a bill from the hospital in Lux! €300. About $300, give or take. In theory, we are all EU so I should have been covered, but there was some form-filling I’d have needed to do, and in the state I arrived at hospital… I realised, of course, that it was purely speculative, I had since moved so it only got to me because my mail had been redirected, they had no idea where I was now, but at the time I’d needed them, they were there, I felt like I owed them so I coughed up.