Final destination

   Luxembourg is a country that is so small, when it came to naming its largest city, it wasn’t necessary to find a new name for it. They just named it Luxembourg, too. It’s like when they made that tiny little car and name it Le Car. Le Car simply wasn’t big enough to have a model name of its own, as if one would even fit on its rear panel. During my first day out and about in Luxembourg, I took a train to the farthest reaches of its border with Belgium. That took about an hour, during which it occurred to me that were I to become stranded in the middle of this country, I could still probably walk back to my hotel.

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Spain: Travel Goals

These are examples of my travel goals:

So far I have two objectives for the Spain part of my trip. I’ve done a ton of background reading for this leg, including Michener’s exhaustive and exhausting Iberia, Zoellner’s chapter on the AVE high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid in his wonderfully researched Train, Jack Hitt’s mostly enjoyable memoir of his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella, Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon and Cervantes’s Don Quixote. I’ve also digested a stomach churning account of the Spanish Inquisition, and browsed several other weighty tomes. After all this, here’s what I’ve come up to do in Spain: I want to find a good bowl of paella and an English edition of Jan Morris’s Spain. That’s it, you say? Bear with me, though. (I know that’s bearing a lot.)

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Chicken Run

 With last night's "steak" still creating gridlock in my digestive system, I realized I'd have to make an effort to work up an appetite for my poulet grande by lunchtime. I might be in the home of the French popes, but Saturday is Saturday, and that's my wash day. I also hoped doing a load in the common laundromat would provide some measure of exertion toward creating that much desired appetite for lunch. 

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Croque Monsieurs and low talkers

The 10:26 to...”

...Lyon. I think I may have seen the papal palace on the way out of Avignon today. I couldn't help it, since stone walls and crenelated rooks and towers came into sight suddenly, and they filled the train window. At least now, though, I will be able to honestly answer "Yes," when the inevitable question, "Well, did you even bother to try and see anything while you were there, for crying out loud?" is asked.

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Frogs and snails and sugar and spice

A man can get a lot of thinking done while relaxing in a filing cabinet. One of the thoughts that occurred to me was to check my eurail pass status against the rest of the travel days I had planned that included getting back to Paris. Good thing I did, because if I continued at the current pace, my pass days would run out two days short of my planned stay. I was on my way to Avignon in the morning, and had planned to stay two days and make several short out and back trips to ...somewhere. This would be a good time then to get off the pass and pay cash for these trips.

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My Lunch With Danielle

The 10:34 to…

 …Toulouse. For starters, the scenery on the southerly swing from Bordeaux to Toulouse improved dramatically over the Paris to Bordeaux leg. Villages with medieval walls and fortresses on hills, broad, winding rivers and handsome, prosperous farmhouses swept past my window. At one point I felt this amazing smile form on my face, coming suddenly out of nowhere. This trainhopping idea was working perfectly, and I was loving every minute of it.

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