Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Whereas Strasbourg station entrance was all shiny new glass cladding and opened onto wide spaces, Luxembourg's seemed more like a building site, its outside crammed with people and traffic when we arrived there. Eventually we heard a welcoming cry from Angela Hoogewerf, an old friend with whom we had invited ourselves to stay: she whisked us off in her car, pausing by the Adolphe Bridge so we could look down into the deep gorge which gave the city its strategic importance. Migrating storks - in the dark, we could only hear them - honoured us with a flypast as we shivered.

Down by the somewhat puny (I thought) river, we admired an exhibition of wire body forms suspended above the water: spot-lit, they seemed beautiful but faintly sinister. After a look round the river area, we met up with Francis Hoogewerf at his Club. We drank a coupe de champagne. I had to don a (Club) tie before I was allowed in: "Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn," is the Grand Duchy's motto - "We want to remain what we are."

Angela and Francis live in a most welcoming house outside Luxembourg itself: as one of the smallest capital cities, its surrounding countryside is not far away. Having said this, we seemed to find ourselves in a long and rather slow-moving line of BMWs and Mercedes on the way back to the station the next morning, no doubt Eurocrats all.

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