Sunday, 17 August 2008

The Luxembourg Lergy

Actually, we hadn't planned on visiting Luxembourg at all. Theo had been there before and wasn't too worried about going back, but suggested we might as well call in as we were in the area and as I had never set foot in the third Low Country I agreed. After all, no harm in completing the trilogy of Benelux lands, a mini European hat-trick to pop in the portfolio. A few hours wandering around Luxembourg City, one night's stay and a trip back through the Ardennes to the Netherlands ought to do it.

But my innards had other ideas. On our last night at the Grimbergen campsite near Brussels (much nicer than the name suggests, although it brings back painful memories in some respects) I was suddenly struck down by a urine infection. To spare the more squeamish I won't go into the details, but it was deeply unpleasant. Theo was alarmed and wondered if I should be taken to hospital, but by morning I'd managed a few hours sleep and although I wasn't 100% in the pink again, most of the uncomfortable symptoms of the previous night seemed to have cleared up. We set off, as planned, for Luxembourg.

The city itself has a few grand buildings and some pleasant squares, but its old ramparts and tree-filled surrounds are probably Luxembourg's most interesting features. Most of the shops were closed and the streets around the city centre were virtually traffic-free, which made us wonder if we'd got our days mixed up and it wasn't Friday at all. In fact, it was the feast of the Ascension and a public holiday, which helpfully meant all parking was free.

The Kockelscheuer campsite where we pitched up, despite having sparkling facilities, was the cheapest official place we had yet stayed on. A pair of French travellers, who invited us back to their fantastic lorry conversion for aperos, told us the comparatively high wages and low cost of living made it an excellent place for a working sojourn. They were funding their itinerant lifestyle (complete with two dogs) by working in one of the local bars.

That night, urgent and feverish bladder-emptying had me tumbling out of Sheena every two hours and in the morning my back was aching and I was passing blood. This time when Theo suggested a visit to hospital, I acquiesced.

As Theo pointed out to buoy me up, it was interesting to sample another aspect of Luxembourg culture - its health service. Generally, I would prefer to sample a country's culture by sipping a drop of its local tipple from a hospitable cafe than providing a drop of my own urine in the city hospital, but Theo had a point.

Despite the inevitable wait to be seen, the hospital had an air of calm, courteous efficiency and like most Luxembourgers, the staff were multi-lingual. I was assessed first by a nurse, then a doctor, had some blood taken for a test and was eventually told I had developed a fairly serious kidney infection and was prescribed some strong antibiotics, which I would have to take for the next three weeks.

My prescription cost an eye-watering 60 Euros, but the helpful pharmacist told me I could get most of the money back via EU health agreements and even wrote down the address of the place where I should go.

So, bearing in mind the doctor's instructions that I should return if I got worse over the next 48 hours, Theo and I returned to Camping Kockelscheuer, requested a pitch near La Sanitaire and settled down for some convalescence. At least it's meant I've finally finished A Suitable Boy. And I'm feeling a whole lot better too. But next time I have to do any water sampling in Luxembourg, I would rather it was in the spa.

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