Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Day in Luxembourg, A Night (morning, actually) in Tampa/St Pete

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. Especially if that stranger has a Slingbox and gives me his IP address and login so that I may watch some playoff baseball at 2 am, local time. Say what you will about crazies on the internet, but I can vouch for the fine folks at SurvivingGrady. Especially complete stranger Ben who so generously gave me the ticket to watch the game last night, and my friend John (in New Zealand) who gave me his MLB.TV account info as a backup. Sox fans are the best, no matter what Chip Carey and the rest of the asshats at TBS might imply. By the way, I have a message for Ted Turner: Next time you televise an important playoff game, make sure to pay your electric bill first.

Yesterday afternoon was spent exploring Luxembourg City’s lovely streets and parks. The weather was a cool and damp and we turned back from our first attempt to walk about at 9 am. Once the morning fog burned off, we headed out once more to wander about this ancient city with its medieval fortresses. I had been here once before with my father some 20 years ago (GI Joe last was in Luxembourg sometime in the mid-50s) and took the tour of the battlements. This time, Joe and I decided to skip the guided tour and follow our map, with a few suggestions from Let’s Go Europe.

Like many European cities, Luxembourg sports various monuments and tributes to the allied liberators of the Second World War. La Place de la Constitution borders Ave. FD Roosevelt and along the walk to the city’s cathedral we found many plaques honoring members of the local resistance movement.

The walk along the fortress walls, or casements, offers a spectacular view of the city. Beneath lies the Valles Petrusse, or Petrusse Valley, a lovely park that cuts right through the center of Luxembourg City. We had packed a lunch of cheese, fruit and wine and, being thus fortified, hiked our way down the steep steps of the casements and into the Petrusse.

The afternoon sun (and le vin rouge) kept us just warm enough to sit on a park bench and picnic for a good hour.

The park is well-used on a Saturday afternoon and we watched as bike riders, joggers, and families made their way past. We encountered a group of American students as well, on a semester abroad from Miami of Ohio. They chatted with us for a bit and offered many restaurant and nightclub suggestions before continuing on their way. After stuffing ourselves, we headed back to the hotel, resisting temptation along the way.

After our extensive afternoon nap, we once again made our way to the center of the city, this time to explore our dinner options. Let’s Go was enthusiastic about an unusual restaurant off the Rue du Nord called Chiggery. Legend had it that the restaurant boasted a wine list of 2300 (no, that is not a typo) selections. Booyah! After a gander through the Place d’Armes and it’s many sidewalk cafes/restaurant, we found ourselves at Chiggery. Once we stepped through the door, I suspected that this place was not quite our cup of tea. It had a loud, funky vibe – very Venetian (as in CA) and its wildly painted walls were lit with black light. Hmmm. Despite its reputation for fine wine and cuisine not to mention the amazing selection of homemade vodka infusions,

Joe and I made the executive decision to eat elsewhere. However, I was still intrigued with the idea of the Holy Grail of wine lists: why not have a glass before we leave? We settled in at the bar and ordered two glasses of red. I was excited at the many possibilities: perhaps a local treasure or the remains of some diner’s Chateau d’Yquem left behind? I watched the bartender reach into the wine cooler and pull out a bottle for us.

He came up with a bottle of Woodbridge Merlot.

That’s right, folks. A bartender at a restaurant in Luxembourg, known for its exotic wine list, pulls out a bottle of crappy California Merlot. $7.99 at your local Safeway. Feh. We drank up and headed out.

Everywhere in Luxembourg were the posters “Les Moules a arrivee!” (the mussels have arrived) and so Joe and I looked forward to sampling some coquillage. We made our way back to la Place d’Armes and found a traditional bistro, CafĂ© Francais. Here we ordered said moules, along with soup and a nice bottle of Pouilly Fume. Tres delicieux.

The brisk 10 minute walk back to our hotel sobered us up somewhat before we napped once again before the game. A game worth staying up for, though I must admit I spent the later innings lying in bed with one eye barely open.

Sunday night is Game Seven. Pardon me if I don’t pick up the action until the middle innings. I need sleep lest I do a faceplant at the Musee d’Orsay on Monday.

One last picture before I sign off. I know my friend Hayes will enjoy this:


Tex said...

This is so much fun following you and Joe...I feel like we're peeking from around the corner. So let me get this fly across the huge ocean just to drink some california wine? what happened to the integrity of the cultures?? oh least you got to see the game..and what a game!

HorshamScouse said...

I'm drooling and I don't even like mussels!

If/when I get back to Europe, you've made me want to sample Luxembourg (I got close once, a few years ago, after taking a wrong exit off the Brussels ringroad).