So a bonus blog. Well I thought it'd be rude not to tell of my triumphant return to Luxembourg, and yes it has aged better than me over the last 30 years. Interestingly my last blog, which was all of 5 lines plus playlist was one of the most read (that said moist read at first. Freud would have had a field day with that). So if it's short blogs you like you're gonna hate this one. Loads of photos and quiet a few words too.
So Chrissy Moog, Geoff Hobbs and myself hopped on the train and headed to Europe to visit Radio LNW in Wiltz. A reasonably uneventful journey apart from the obligatory triple take at my passport photo at St. Pancras. (See Strasbourg blog for photo evidenced). My trip very nearly ended there. I really should get that sorted. I don't think passport control were happy with my, 'lose the beard and darken the hair,' comments as I hold my hair back. Everytime I had to do that. Anyway, we eventually arrived here:
A brief wait and then onto the Luxembourg City train. It should be mentioned that the Belgian train service, and let's be generous here, is average at best. No buffet and incredibly slow for what was to be a 70 mile journey that took getting on 3 hours. Speaking to someone later in the trip he told me that the Belgian government had decided not to throw any money into the rail network as it could be better used on other services. If you consider our governments systematic destruction of all public services, the sickening bedroom tax and the multi-billion investment in the unneeded high speed rail link maybe they have a point. This rail link that'll boost the North of England economy even though it's still twenty years away. Good work by the Ministry of Dodgy Crystal Balls there.
Sorry. Bit early in a long blog for a ranting tangent! We alighted in the Belgian town of Marloie where our host, Maisey, picked us up. Maisey works for Radio LNW as well as running the hotel in Wiltz we were to be staying at. Very handy. She drove us to Bastogne where we stopped for a very late dinner. Imagine my joy on ordering a beer and this arrived:
And if you think I'd just bought into the whole Coke advertising thing and got a glass with my name on it here's where we were:
See, bottom left, Bier Simon. And quite right too.
Off to the hotel, check in, I claimed the big room due to being the biggest there. Selfish I know. The room was awesome. The wardrobe had it's own lights. I don't know why this excited me so much. And a fridge:
And of course a TV. Though it took me a while to realise that the TV remote also doubled as a bottle opener.
My first thought was this is genius until I opened a bottle and RTL kept coming on my TV. And so to bed.
Before breakfast the obligatory photos of the hotel.
Oh and this was the view from the patio where I smoked my early morning French cigarettes:
So our first visit to Radio LNW. It's part of the local school, Lycee du Nord, in Wiltz and doubles up as a language lab type thing. Each room in the school has an appropriate name i.e. the library was called Simone de Beauvoir so I was overjoyed to find this as the radio room:
And although their output is minimal, certainly compared to Sine FM the equipment was enough to make a volunteer radio presenter weep.
We recorded a brief interview as to what we were doing there, sat in on a few language lessons and then went and admired the car park. I only mention this cos it'll make my boss so jealous. Space for over a hundred cars Steve! Oh and the bus station was next to the school. Any ideas what the local bus service is called?
I know!!! I've always felt an affinity with Luxembourg after meeting The Grand Duke in 1982. Now I know why!
In the afternoon we took off to visit Vianden and it's imposing castle. I was delighted to find out it was a castle I visited on that 1982 Scout camp visit, mainly cos for over thirty years I never knew what the castle was called. It was just as I remembered it.
The thing is it shouldn't have been as I remembered it. The castle was a ruin up until 1979 when renovation started with the plan to follow the exact design of the original castle. The work was finished in 1984 and looking at photos of the work when I previously visited not all of the outside walls had been finished. I was very confused, which doesn't take much really. This time I went inside the castle to learn more about my old friend, the late Grand Duke Jean. And to get views like this:
We had a walk in Vianden after, looked at a church, had a beer and pointed at Germany.
That's Maisey in the foreground and Germany in the background. If I'd known I could have brought the eurosock.
So back to the hotel. The floor I was on when was decorated with paintings of legendary footballers. Pele, Muller, Figo, Cruyff, lots of Cruyff actually, Beckenbauer, Zoff, Ronaldo (Brazil), Platini, Zidane and who did I have either side of my door? Schumacher and Maradona. Two world cup cheats. Ah well.
Off up to the school/radio again for some more sitting in on lessons. We were late. Detentions all round. We did record jingles for their radio though and I got to slip Madness into their playlist. We then headed off to the Cooperations project and The Garden Of Wiltz. What started out 30 years ago as a garden built by and for the mentally handicapped has turned into a major cultural hub not only for Wiltz but the whole of Luxembourg. It was an awe inspiring place and I cant do it justice here but have a look at http://www.cooperations.lu/fr/25/agenda/ It's a beautiful place as well.
We also had a brief visit to Wiltz castle, sadly very brief as there is a beer museum there. Lots of ancient Simon. Also I found out that Wiltz was a main part of the resistance movement in the Second World War. The whole town went out on strike rather than help their Nazi oppressors. It was also centre of The Battle Of The Bulge with Grand Duke Jean on the front line with his American allies.
Thursday afternoon saw us heading back to Belgium. Liege to be precise. Standard. Ah, I've been waiting to make that comment since I found out we were going to Liege. For non football fans I apologise for your current bewilderment. We were visiting an exhibition on the 1960s which was actually in Liege station as part of a school trip. We did a ten minute interview for some of the students before we went in. I think we'd become some kind of project.
That's Liege station which has caused some controversy over it's architecture. Some Belgians love it, others have gone down the Prince Charles 'monstrous carbuncle' route, or furoncle monstrueux if you prefer. It was an excellent exhibition and halfway round I found something that stopped me in my tracks. I know I was visiting a beautiful country on a fact finding mission but this was my overall highlight.
And if you'll allow me to get more self indulgent than usual:
It was a guitar used by Robby Krieger at a Covent Garden Roundhouse gig in 1968. I had to be dragged away. I got some very strange looks as I crouched and stared for what felt like hours. They did get me out of there eventually with the mention of Belgian beer. All 11.3% volume of it. It was over a beer that I found out one of the teachers was at the same International Scout Camp, Jubica, in 1982 as I was.
So this was to be our last night in Wiltz so after dinner I had a wander into the town but the only life I found was choir practice at the church. And they wouldn't let me in.
Hometime. Our train wasn't until twenty past one from Luxembourg City so we got an early train from Wiltz to give us a few hours in the capital. All I remembered about the city was it being stunningly attractive and it having a big red bridge. I had time to visit the Grand Duke's Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral - where the Grand Dukes and Duchesses are buried, grab a coffee, walk in a park, do some light shopping, and kill myself on a million steps. This Is Luxembourg City:
|The Grand Duke's Palace|
|My Big Red Bridge|
|These were everywhere. An arts exhibition across the city. The elephants were for sale with money helping to save the African Elephant.|
|For the Cushty Librarian.|
|Coffee and a cigarette. Inside!! How civilized. Gotta love Luxembourg.|
|Luxembourg City Station.|