Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Why my blog posts are disappearing!

I am “archiving” (effectively deleting) all posts on this blog before some arbitrary time, maybe 2014 or so, except ones I happen to know are linked from other places. If there's something you're looking for (there probably isn't, none of this is exactly noteworthy) ask me and I'll make it visible (if I like you).

Monday, July 3, 2017

Europe Retrospective: Luxembourg

I have flown across the Atlantic six times (three times each way). Five of the six have been on the Delta flight between Seattle and Amsterdam. As of the start of this trip I had never been in Amsterdam outside the airport, which put Amsterdam, for me, in a category with Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Dallas. I would get a little time in Amsterdam later, but on the way in I was just connecting through to Luxembourg.

In Luxembourg my main purpose was visiting John and Victoria, and resting up for the marathon. I had a fun visit with them, shopping around for grills and outdoor furniture, cooking and eating, hanging out and reading in parks, etc. I didn't do as much sightseeing as I hoped due to catching a cold, but did make it out to Trier, which is just spectacular for having such a collection of historic buildings in such a compact area.

A model of the remnants of Trier's fortifications, in front of the fortifications.

The fortifications from the other side.

Various angles of the stunning main square of Trier.

A baroque palace joined to an older church — certainly a political statement, perhaps not so different from some of today's regarding the provenance and justification of great accumulated wealth. Not the sort I'm inclined to agree with.

Ruins of Trier's Roman baths.

Trier's Roman amphitheatre.

This would have to be a Gothic church, but I don't recall which exactly.

The marathon was a bust; between a fever I was still fighting off, very hot temperatures persisting through the race start, and being stuck out in the sun with no water for almost two hours before the start, I really had no chance to make the whole distance. I dropped off my goal pace about 10 kilometers in and dropped out completely before the halfway mark. At least I got to run some later parts of the course on easy runs other days. I felt like a cheater going in for the massage and spa treatment in Mondorf the day after not running a marathon (thanks, Dad!), but experiencing a sauna for the first time was worth the guilt. John ran as part of a marathon relay team, and he finished his leg, so he earned his massage and saunas properly. On the way we passed by Schengen, where the famous European open-borders agreement was worked out!

On my last day in Luxembourg John took me on a tour of Luxembourg's “Valley of the Seven Castles”. This is one of these Seattle-Luxembourg connections. People sometimes say Seattle was built on seven hills (an analogy to Rome), but however you count the hills you always wind up with more or less than seven, never seven exactly. I think the Valley of the Seven Castles is similar, though I could be wrong (I don't know Luxembourgish castles nearly as well as Seattle hills).

These are from a little old ruin near Käerch.

This one, near Septfontaines, was a little tricky to get to. It looks like it's been inhabited recently, with what appears to be a modern driveway on part of the grounds!

The castle at Ansembourg features an impressive garden.

Hollenfels' castle has a hostel next to it!

This castle in Vianden can be visited, but was closed when we showed up.

In addition to all these castles we got a peek at the current Grand-Ducal palace. John knew we were in the area and managed to find the closest accessible vantage by driving around. As when I first moved to Seattle and spent several weeks going on runs trying to find Kerry Park, looking at a map would have been cheating. The Dimonds take fair-play seriously... I think we were raised to appreciate a good challenge. Anyhow, Luxembourg is a nice place to visit if you have good hosts, and I had the best! Next stop, Prague!