For the past two nights we have been staying with our friends Harry and Isis whilst travelling into central London during the day to do a final round of farewells. Although I do complain about how everyone ends up moving to London it does make visiting them all at once very convenient. It was an intense day of mixed emotions, but the compassion and enthusiasm from our friends and family was an excellent remedy for the rising anxiety about the journey ahead.
The journey took the form of an 9.5 hour coach ride from London Victoria to Luxembourg City. I haven’t been on a coach journey since the lower sixth trip to Brussels which was not a pleasant experience but I can happily report that coaches have come a long way in the last 10 years. Our chariot for the day was bright yellow with leather seats, ample leg room, free hot drinks and touchscreen entertainment set into the back of the seat in front of you. Our seats backed on to the exit which meant guilt free reclining with the slight downside that the toilet was also located right behind us. Luckily only one person who used the facilities was “powerful” enough to disturb us but I have committed their face to memory and will not forget the discomfort they put me through.
The view outside the window was pretty plain. On a list of the most amazing landscapes in the world Kent, northern France and Belgium aren’t going to place very high (before anyone complains about the white cliffs of Dover, you don’t see them if you take the chunnel). Flat, well-developed farmland gave way to more flat, well-developed farmland for 8 hours before night covered what I can only assume was more flat, well-developed farmland. The only interruption was a stop at a service station where the cashier addressed customers in whatever language they started the conversation with. I am still impressed with how multilingual Belgium is – a Belgian businessman once told me that you need to speak English, French and Flemish at a minimum to get a qualified job in Brussels. I opted to greet the cashier in Dutch to see if he’d see through my accent and continue to speak English to me. He did reply in Dutch so either my deception was successful or he took pity on my attempt at another language. Probably the latter.
The coach dropped us in Luxembourg at 21:30 local time, exactly on schedule. As it pulled away, it would have been easy to feel a bit abandoned, but luckily our friend Joanna was there to meet us. We had arrange to stay with her for the next few nights and seeing a friend so soon after leaving made the transition very comfortable. We’re excited to explore Luxembourg with her in the coming days (and very happy she greeted us with a smile, and cheese. We love cheese. And Joanna. But cheese also).