We were up at 6:30 AM to pack, have breakfast and board a bus for the short ride to the transit station in Montparnasse to join the rest of the AMA Waterways group headed for the boat. While we waited for the next bus to take us to to the Gare East railway station, I was able to catch up on some email in the Pullman Hotel lobby nearby, which had a public terminal.
Regina was our bus guide for this leg, and told us about the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse). It has been clocked at 573.5 km/hr (356 mph), but we will not be traveling at that speed today. There are several TGV lines, and the one we will be traveling, which goes to Germany, is the most recently constructed.
Our city tour will not be in Luxembourg, as we originally thought, but in Metz, which is where we leave the train. No explanation requested or given. I believe it was just a logistics detail.
We had assigned seats in 2nd Class which were quite comfortable. The train did move right along, but I was disappointed not to see a speed indication as we traveled. It was probably about 180 mph.
In Metz, our city guide, Claudia, told us that Metz was inhabited as early as 1000 BC, and had been a Celtic trading post. In the 19th century, it was built up on the basis of coal, iron, and steel, under the influence of Wilhelm II who was a key figure in starting World War I. We were in the Alsace-Lorraine area, the site of many wars, which have occurred every 40 years on average. Claudia was enthusiastic about the cultural opportunities of Metz. They have Opera, Drama, Ballet and the Musée Pompidou Metz, a modern art museum modeled after the Musée Pompidou Paris.
On the way to Luxembourg from Metz, we stopped at the Luxembourg Cemetery for US war dead. Most other nations bury their soldiers near where they fell, but it was felt that America would not accept the idea of burials in German soil, so the cemeteries for US soldiers killed in WW II are in other countries, such as Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. This cemetery was simple and elegant. One of the other bus guides gave a very personal
account of the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge, which occurred nearby. He told us that Allied forces arrived at the Maginot line and found the pillboxes empty. They could have advanced unopposed. However, Eisenhower ordered a delay until Allied forces could be strengthened, by which time the pillboxes were manned, a costly decision.
We continued on to Luxembourg and arrived at the boat around 5:00 PM with a reception scheduled for 6:30, followed by dinner. We were introduced to the staff, and received a detailed explanation of procedures and rules. It was humorous, but very long, a number of nodding heads could be observed, including mine.
After dinner Teresa and I went out for a stroll on the deck and found that were about to go through our first of 17 locks. This one was a drop of 3 meters, not that much.
That evening, Teresa locked the deadbolt, and then found that she could not unlock it. It took two staff people, one with a special key, to open the door. They explained that, incredible as it may sound, if you double lock the deadbolt from the inside, it cannot be opened from the inside. “That’s not safe!” I said, “What if there is an emergency”? He explained that they will quickly come around and make sure every door can be opened. There’s more to this story. Only I don’t know what it is.