Thursday, September 02, 2004

Liege, Belgium—Luxembourg City, Luxembourg—Day 215

While most of the day was spent on a train, I overall had a pretty great day. It started off with my trip back to the Monde Sauvage—the animal park near Aywaille. I got up early this morning and checked out of the hotel (and had to deal with the woman at the desk who was trying to overcharge me for the nasty smoky room I stayed in last night) and headed to back on the freeway to Aywaille. My luck from yesterday was still going strong it seems because I found the right way to get back to the zoo. Within a half and hour I was there and was just about first in line for the zoo. It was the same girl from yesterday (so I had missed my chance to rendezvous with the mean ticket woman) and she looked at me with a slight hesitation as I bought my ticket.

I think she was on to me!

Luckily for me several of the cars in front of me (there were only about four really) decided to head towards the parking lot rather than do the safari. Why I don’t know, but this was good for me because it meant that I had no one in my way stopping my from the hippos.

I made my way into the safari entrance and TA-DA! There they were! Three hippos! I was giddy with excitement as I perhaps a little too quickly made my way over to them—hitting perhaps one too many deep potholes on the way. I didn’t care—I was going to get my hippos whether the car liked it or not.

I stopped just feet away from the hippos and started snapping. It was pretty easy to tell which one was Knudell since he definitely the smallest and eating on his own. I didn’t know who was Georgette and who was Marline, but I figured I would take their pictures first. One of them was much larger than the other so I would just have to find someone who would know. I took lots of pictures—of the hippos and of these crazy elk things that were in the middle of the road. It was so exciting! Almost like I was on a small safari with the hippos so close. They even walked RIGHT in front of my car to get to the other side of the road so that was exciting as well. I couldn’t believe how close we could get to them and I was so happy to find them out of the water rather than in like yesterday.

Once I got lots of pictures I zoomed around the rest of the safari park to find some keeper to help me. That’s when I got stuck behind some camels who wouldn’t move and I was afraid of the car getting kicked by one! I finally made it past and found a keeper. I called him over and to my relief he was a different one from yesterday so not only would he not recognize me but perhaps he would know who was who.

Not only did he know but he spoke English and then went over to the hippos to point them out! Why didn’t I run into him the other day when I first came!?!?! I was right about Knundell and he showed me that Georgette was the bigger of the two females. He happily patted Knudell, telling me as I took pictures that he was really very friendly. Obviously it seemed like they were—where else where the hippos free roaming amongst zoo visitors like they were here? I haven’t seen any so far.

I thanked him (if he only knew how really thankful I was!) and drove back to Liege. Miraculously (again with luck still on my side) I found the car rental place and dropped off the car without any problems and took a bus to the train station. Getting on the bus was quite the thing with all of my stuff but I managed it although was given a few not so happy looks by the other bus passengers who had to climb over my things to get to get on the bus.

I made it to the train station and had about an hour to spare before my train left. I checked my email and grabbed a hot dog as I waited. I then boarded the train to Luxembourg and unfortunately had nothing to read since I finished my book. So two hours passed as I listened to music and waited for my stop.

When everyone got off of the train at one point I decided that this wasn’t good—and I didn’t want a repeat performance of what happened yesterday. So I asked the conductor who spoke English and he told me that I had to get a bus to the next station because they were working on the train tracks on this station. So I got off and again had to get on a bus with all of my stuff and headed 12 kilometers on the bus to the next stop, which was quite funny when I was trying to prevent my things from falling into the isles.

We made it to the next stop and all eventually boarded the next train that pulled in. Heading to Luxembourg I still wasn’t quite sure if I really was doing what I was supposed to but eventually found out from the train conductor that I was heading in the right direction.

Despite the train being overwhelmingly hot and a bit crowded, I made it to Luxembourg, eventually. My hotel is right across from the train station so I headed over, checked in and then took a quite nap before heading out to find some dinner. I walked up over a beautiful bridege over to the main center of Luxebourg City (which is quite small) and found the main square. There was a guy standing there with dread locks who was juggling and I thought, hmmm, he looks familiar. Then another guy came over (again with dred locks) and I recognized them immediately as being two jugglers that Sarah and I had seen in Poland two months ago! How funny! Although I don’t know them, I guess it was about time for me to run into something—or someone—again. Anyways, I knew for sure it was them when they both just whipped down their pants and started changing, as they did so as Sarah and I watched in shock in Poland. How funny. Once it was confirmed that it was them (aka when they started taking off their clothes) I decided it was time for me to get something to eat. I stopped at a small Italian place where I started chatting to the girl sitting two tables away from me who just so happened to be from England. We got talking and after dinner, Lanny and I went and had a few beers. It was great—she too is a business traveler so it was nice to talk to her about the woes of traveling alone, among other things of course!

Tomorrow I head to Thoinville, France for the day to get the zoo there and then its off to Paris! Ooohh la la!

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.