Saturday, April 20, 2013


A confusing mix of feelings washed over me yesterday, as I watched Bill's black hat disappear in the crowd at the Lisbon airport. Even though he had a 4 hour wait ahead of him before boarding his flight home to Cincinnati, he insisted on coming to the airport to see me safely at my gate at 6:15 a.m.  Suddenly our delightful time together as travel partners had ended, and now I'd have to be completely self-reliant. I've become awfully used to having Bill as my personal GPS system. And yet, despite missing Bill already, I was also excited about finally, FINALLY being on my way to finishing the GR5!

All systems went well. I first flew on Easy Jet to Basel, Switzerland, where I boarded a train for a 3.5 hour ride to Luxembourg Ciry (because I love European trains).  The first amazing encounter of the trip happened there with my seat mate, a young 20-something lady. Our connection unfolded within the first 15 minutes. She lives just across Lake Geneva from our previous home in France, hails from Portugal, more specifically the last town of our visit there (Nazare), and she was to meet up with her good friend, Carlos Jr.,  in Luxembourg for a long holiday together.   And who is Carlos SR,?  The owner and excellent chef at the restaurant in Nazare that we had dined in and greatly enjoyed just 3 days before. The coincidences and connections in life can be amazing sometimes. (Sorry, no photos available)

I had forgotten how lovely the city of Luxembourg is, with its imposing site: the old city center at the summit of a cliff with two rivers forming the boundaries. 1000 year-old fortifications, stone bridges which span the ravine that nearly encircles the city center, winding alleyways, inviting cafe-filled squares and picturesque homes all add up to a beautiful place to visit.

HOWEVER, when I asked a local if today's weather was typical for this time of year (mid 40's, cloudy, a chilly breeze), I was reassured that was actually much nicer than usual! Usually cold and rainy. Gee, I can't wait to see what Mother Nature has in store for me!

I'm having my first ever experience with a youth hostel, although I have stayed in refuges in the Alps with similar dormitory sleeping accommodations. I am in a room with 3 bunk beds, providing sleeping accommodations for 6. When I arrived yesterday, only one of my roommates was there at the time: a stunning Italian brunette. As she meticulously applied her lipstick and stood on a chair to better inspect her complete outfit in the small over-the-sink mirror, I felt clunky and klutzy in my hiking attire as I crawled all over my top bunk, trying to make the fitted sheets actually fit. It felt rather like Gollum ("my precious" in Lord of the Rings) bunking with Sophia Loren. The only photo available, however, is the one of a large building...the youth a bridge with cherry blossoms in the foreground.  Of course, all this is assuming the photo actually makes it to its assigned spot on the blog.

The day was spent going to 3 different phone shops to try to figure out problems posting photos. Sometimes it worked, usually not. We shall just let the fickle gods of the Internet have their way.

There was a street fair in one of the squares, with countless booths offering wonderful, diet-busting temptations from the region and nearby countries. I had started the day out with strong intentions of making this a health-oriented hike. My resolve dissolved within minutes. German sausage with sauerkraut began the feast, with a grand finale of the best waffle (a Belgium "gauffre") I've had in my life:  crispy outside, but melt-in-your mouth tender, topped with whipped cream and strawberries. I pity anyone in the world who didn't eat one of those today.

One more evening in the hostel and then I'm off to begin my adventure on foot. What's waiting for
me out there?  Hopefully, more gauffres!


  1. I had a veggie dog with sauerkraut at the Reds game last weekend.
    Ruth, you are way prettier than Gollum.

  2. Mary, I just saw your comment, 4 days later. After having spent several days outside on the trail, I understand why Gollum looks like he does.