Small Town Hospitality


A nerve-wracking episode on our last day in Europe. Ten days of traveling and we missed our transfer from Brugge which should have taken us back to Luxembourg. Sleep deprived and road weary, we weren't aware that we had to switch trains at Namur station in Belgium. We ended up in the small town of Dinant.

 

Thanks to a young lady in the carriage whose name we never got to know, we were given instructions on how to retrace our route and get back on course to Luxembourg. She was most apologetic about her limited command of english. We were most appreciative of her efforts to help us. After she explained to the officers at the station on our behalf, arrangements were made for us to leave again within twenty minutes.

 

During our wait, an elderly lady who was also a local suggested that we follow her for a quick five-minute walk to the town's core. Feeling a little obliged due to her hospitality, we walked with the lady who introduced herself as Maxelle, along with an elderly man who we could only assume was her husband. Maxelle spoke english well and once we turned the corner at the end of the street we understood why she was eager to show us the place she called home. 

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From the side of a river we took in the view of a citadel perched above a rock cliff overlooking the town's house of worship and waterfront buildings. Maxelle also explained how the inventor of the saxaphone (Adolphe Sax) was a native of this region, symbolized by the many colourful statues of the wind instrument along the river's bridge.

 

"So you see, your loss of way to Dinant was not a total waste of time," said Maxelle. Indeed, I agreed. A blessing in disguise? A secret calling? "You must come back and visit. Promise you will." I was hesitant to promise but I would suggest this locale for tourists any day.

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We expressed our gratitude and parted ways. We headed back to the station with the train conductor who was also a local son. The train that took us back seemed to have served this town for decades, never having been upgraded since the seventies. Possibly the limited network and service is what has given Dinant the feeling of remoteness, which has preserved the friendliness of the people.

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My better-half and I arrived at our hotel in Luxembourg well past midnight. Little sleep would be anticipated before our 6:20am dash by rail to Schiphol Amsterdam. At the time of this writing, we are well on the plane ride back to Toronto. Home Sweet Home.

 

My only regret throughout this journey and my interaction with the locals is that I realize now how much I've become insecure and suspicious of strangers. I've taken a wary approach to anyone extending a lending hand, even if I maintain a cool and friendly facade. This could only be due to living in cities overpopulated, where attitudes are cold and the deranged loose. I blame only myself. I should learn from my spouse on how to keep a positive approach.

 

So I say thank you to the drug addict in Zandaam who directed our way to the inn. Much fortune to the accordian-player in Delft who invited my wife Dee for a picture taken together. And all the best to the down-on-luck French man who knew Indonesia all too well but did not speak a tongue of english, explaining to us the underground system in Brussels. You've made our travelling experience so much richer.


May 28, 2012


© Prakoso Sastrowardoyo 2012