I woke up one fine day in April 2013 and decided I wanted to go on this trip by myself. Except for just short flights to visit my extended family and friends, moving to Milan and a disastrous 2-day trip to Haridwar, I had never traveled alone. I spoke to my parents, quickly and quietly arranged my tickets and accommodation, packed my bags and took off on 24th April.
When I landed in Luxembourg, for the first time in my life, there was no one at the airport to receive me. First time ever. It was terrifying and exhilarating. My flight landed at 4.45pm, and I had to reach the apartment I had booked (with AirBnB) at 6.30pm, or later. A bus ride would have taken me there in 10mins. So… I decided to walk. It was 7km away, which, under normal circumstances, should have taken me no longer than 1.5hours. Perfect timing. Well, theoretically at least!
Sometimes I think I push my luck to the point of foolhardiness. I walked through absolutely deserted highways (with a car passing by every 7-8minutes) for almost an hour till I reached some semblance of civilization and human settlement.
The map I was using on my phone was offline, thanks to the fact that I was in a different country and had no access to the internet. So what SHOULD have been another half an hour, took me over two. Two hours of walking up and down (LITERALLY up and down- Luxembourg is not flat!) and turning back from a million dead-ends, I finally managed to reach the apartment, which was, thankfully, lovely. The host, Sabrina, was absolutely delightful. And since I was so exhausted after the unexpectedly long walk, I decided to stay in, and chat with my host over a steaming mug of coffee, during which she told me she was leaving for Paris the next day and wouldn’t be back till the day before I left.
The next morning, the first thing I did was visit the Chocolate House.
After a thoroughly satisfying breakfast of Caramel Bourbon Vanilla hot chocolate and a humongous brownie
(it was the chef’s suggestion, I couldn’t possibly say no!!), I walked over to the railway station (through a little fair, which had a bunch of incredibly tempting food stalls, but I couldn’t possibly eat thanks to my breakfast which I hadn’t even been able to finish) and took a train to Metz, France.
I came back from Metz the next day by sharing a ride with my new friend, Teodora, in a man’s car who drove from Metz to Lux and back every day for work. After a quick stop where I was staying so I could drop my bags, Teodora and I went from point to point in the city, taking pictures in front of every pretty and/or interesting spot, and trying not to get too wet in the very inconveniently timed rain.
We visited the Chocolate House (yay!) while waiting for the rain to subside a little bit (Helloooo Dark Chocolate Caramel hot chocolate), and continued on our little exploration. Soon afterward, while trying to figure out how to enter the crypts, we met another girl, Sandy, who was alone as well, and asked her to join us.
They may say Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd… But I don’t think any of us felt that way. For three people who were perfect strangers less than a day ago, we had a brilliant time walking, talking and laughing together for the rest of the day!!
Goodbyes and facebook IDs were exchanged in the evening and we parted ways after Teodora went back to Metz, Sandy to Brussels, and me, back to the empty apartment. I won’t lie, I was scared. I was in a strange home in a strange country and the door to my room wouldn’t lock. I was more than a little relieved when I woke up safe and sound the next day.
Day 3 saw me taking a train to Diekirch, a little town half an hour north of Luxembourg city where I was going to meet a girl, Cynthia, that I had spoken to on CouchSurfing, and her friend, Mano, and go with them to Trier, in Germany. In the car, Cynthia handed me a container of Kniddelen (a traditional Luxembourgish dish) that she had prepared for me.
I was amazed. All I had done was ask her once about what kind of food they ate, and she actually made some for me!! On the way back from Trier, Cynthia went out of her way to show me some beautiful sights of the Luxembourg countryside… Castles, waterfalls…
I devoured the Kniddelen when I got back to the apartment
(it was DELICIOUS), and swallowed my fear as I settled into bed in the still empty house for the second time.
The next day, again, I went straight to the Chocolate House for breakfast (Praline Nougat, this time :P) and then, since I had an abnormal amount of time on my hands, and nothing to do (yay Sunday), I decided to walk to the airport again (when will I ever learn? :/).
During my (extremely long and tiring- thanks to my super heavy backpack) walk to the airport, I had plenty of time to collect my thoughts.
This trip taught me a thing or two about trust.
First there was Sabrina, who had absolutely no qualms with leaving her house in the hands of a strange woman (me) she knew nothing about. She didn’t even ask to see any identification and just welcomed me into her home and her life with utmost warmth. Then there was Teodora, who was going to go from Metz to Luxembourg with a man she had never met. And then there were the leaps of faith I took… Choosing to live in an apartment belonging to two strangers (of course, the reviews online were reassuring), joining Teodora in the Metz-Luxembourg journey, and finally following Cynthia and Mano into their car on the Diekirch-Trier trip. It was one hour long. I had no idea where I was, and they could have been ANY kind of people, as could I. But we all decided to trust one another, and I think I came out of this experience a better person.
My last few hours in Luxembourg (in the airport) are quite a haze. I was exhausted and half asleep. But at the end of the day, looking back, I think this trip was a success. It’s difficult to find a perfectly compatible travel partner, but that shouldn’t discourage us from traveling. Being alone is an art, and an extremely enjoyable one. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world!
If I could do it over… What would I change?
Well, for starters, I would spend all four days in Luxembourg. Since the country and its capital have the same name, I wrongly believed I needed just a day for Luxembourg, and that’s why I visited Metz and Trier. Lovely though they were, I regret missing spending more time in the Luxembourg countryside exploring the castles and the amaaazing hiking trails.
And, finally, I would carry sunscreen. ALWAYS carry sunscreen (the newly multi-coloured unevenly-tanned skin on my face has learnt that the hard way)!