Sadly, I had to leave Cochem today and return Paris to join my tour group. I could have enjoyed staying a lot longer. As I left Cochem, I drove past Alflen again. The church bells were ringing this Sunday morning. It was actually a little emotional. But as I was leaving the town limit, there was a sign that made me smile. It said: Gut Fahrt! That means “Have a good trip” in English, but I know how my brothers and nephews would have laughed to see the sign. I did indeed have a gut fahrt.
The drive back across the mountains and into Luxembourg was beautiful, with huge modern windmills all across the ridges. They are so elegant and majestic, quietly using nature to power the country. You don’t see above-ground power lines here, which is such a complement to the beautiful views across the countryside. I've always wondered why the US doesn’t bury power lines, especially after a hurricane or ice storm knocks out power in a widespread area.
I was very surprised at how rural France is. People just don’t build houses out in the farmland. They live in villages and that makes the rolling countryside, which just goes on forever, much more beautiful. I need to look up the urban vs. rural stats on France. I would have thought that such old countries were much more crowded.
I drove across a corner of Luxembourg and then I hit the French border and got into a massive traffic jam in Thionville that just stopped everybody dead in their tracks for 2 hours. Apparently, a freeway bridge was being repaired, but the workers had just put up barricades and gone home for the weekend. No police to help direct traffic as 3 lanes funneled off one teeny little exit and snaked through the village, around the roundabouts, and off through the farmland with almost no signage telling us where to go next. I actually used the compass app on my phone for a while, but eventually got around all the traffic and back on the freeway headed toward Paris. I didn’t realize that on Sunday afternoons, the traffic heading back into Paris is to be avoided at all costs.
At a rest stop, something told me to look at my car rental contract to be sure where to return the car. Sure enough, although I thought I was supposed to return it to the train station at Charles De Gaulle (CDG) Airport, it was actually supposed to be returned to the Gare de Lyon train station in the middle of Paris, my worst fear. I did it, but the traffic when I got near Paris was so insane that what was to have been a 4-hour drive from Cochem, turned into an 8-hour drive by the time I arrived. And then, I had to find the right train back to Charles de Gaulle (an hour away) and then find the shuttle to the hotel. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers who helped me find the Metro and buses. I was to have met my tour group for a 6:30 dinner, but didn’t get to the hotel till 11:30 that night, at which point, I collapsed. So I just had to meet them for breakfast the next morning.
This is the last time I will ever rent a car in Europe. In the planning, I was trying to arrive in places at specific times and those times didn’t fit the train schedules. But it ended up that I arrived everywhere much later than I could have with the train. And did I mention that somewhere in France, I lost my credit card today? So I had to cancel that and am now using my back-up card. Not my best day in France, but the Hilton is gorgeous and I’m ready to start the next phase of my trip where somebody else takes care of all the logistics and I just ride along. Hallelujah!
By the way, there is a 787 parked right outside my window at the CDG Airport Hilton. That’s a first.