I wrote this not long after we got home from our trip, but we got so busy with laundry and birthdays that I forgot to click “Publish.” I’ve been back for a while, but I’ll post it anyway. For fun:Several months ago, as we were buying our tickets for the trip, we hesitated purchasing the flight that went to and from Luxembourg, even though it was cheapest. But our in-laws assured us that it would be fine; they were happy to pick us up when we arrived, and deliver us there when we had to leave. It’s an easy two-hour drive from Brussels.Originally, we thought we would be back in Belgium the day before we left. However, due to a scheduling change, we were still in Holland the day before we needed to be at the Luxembourg airport. The drive from Holland to Luxembourg would take approximately four hours.One idea tossed out was to leave Holland on Sunday night, drive to Luxembourg, and find a place to spend the night in order to be right there by the airport, ready to leave Monday morning.The alternative was to leave Holland at 4:00 a.m. and drive directly there.At some point, someone decided we should stay in Holland until the last minute, soaking in every moment of family togetherness. They would drive us to Luxembourg in the morning.Therefore, we woke up at 3:50 a.m. on Monday, lugged the suitcases to the van in a sleepy stupor, dragged the kids out of bed, and after taking time to load everyone and everything, we headed out later than we planned, more like 4:40 a.m.En route, we made two pitstops, one at a gas station. Although the tank was kind of low, we didn’t buy gas. People driving toward Luxembourg wait until they cross the border, because gas is cheaper there.We drove. And drove. The gas gauge sank lower and lower. The gas light came on the dashboard and chimed a warning bell at us. We needed to fill up, but the freeway offered us no options. We’d have to exit and hopefully find one heading toward some kind of civilization.We turned off the freeway and headed toward Bastogne, location of the Battle of the Bulge, but found no gas stations on the way. Things were getting a little desperate, but nobody was admitting it out loud at that point.We continued toward the Bastogne city center, worried we were going to end up pushing the van over to Luxembourg. The city looked picturesque, but obviously we couldn’t stop to enjoy the scenery, so I simply snapped this through the van’s windshield while we were in motion:We were feeling a little desperate, so it was awkward to be touristy. Still, I snapped a picture of the Sherman tank permanently on display in the center of town next to a statue of someone famous, maybe McAuliffe (see the little bust to the left of the tank?), as we circled around a second and third time, in search of a gas station:Sightseeing while that low on gasoline is not recommended or even possible, by the way.We stopped a businessman getting into his car and asked where we could find a gas station. He answered in French, “You’re right by the Luxembourg border–just go a little bit farther down the freeway.” Why buy gas in Bastogne when you can cross the border and get the cheaper Luxembourg gas? He didn’t know we were idling next to him on wisps of gasoline fumes. We insisted we needed to find a local station, as close as possible. He pointed back to the city center and down the one road we hadn’t tried.Thanks to the kind gentleman, we found a station at long last on the outskirts of town!We held our breath until we slid in next to a pump. Whew! We made it!That’s when we all admitted our concerns.While we were filling up, we saw this interesting old race car up on a trailer, perhaps used in a parade:Now that we could relax about the gasoline, we started to wonder if we would miss the plane. Traffic was heavier than expected, and as I already pointed out, we’d started out a little later than planned.Thankfully we got there in time.We waved goodbye to the Belgian Wonder’s wonderful parents as tears puddled in our eyes. The Boy looked up at me after we hugged them and said, “I’ll probably cry on the airplane.” He was blinking several times and his nose was a little red.Goodbyes are so hard. We never know when we’ll see them next.Usually it’s several years.We headed through security and blew kisses one last time to Grandma and Grandpa, then turned a corner to pass through another checkpoint.We settled onto some benches, and I noted the writing on the airport window:The reason I took a photo of it, is that when I first sat down, still a little groggy from waking up at 3:30 in the morning and yet agitated from the gasoline crisis, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I wondered why it said “AEROPORT DELUXE”? Deluxe airport? It didn’t seem so fancy to me. I stared at it for a few seconds before seeing the real phrase, “AEROPORT DE LUXEMBOURG.” Ah. Now I see.Then they called for us to board, and we began our long voyage home.
Ooh, I hate that panicky, sweat-inducing almost-out-of-gas feeling! BTDT (only not in Europe). Glad you made your plane, and here’s to hoping it’s only months, not years, before you see your loved ones again!
L.L. Barkat says
My throat got tight in the part about goodbyes. I find them extremely difficult too.
And that is SO funny about the deluxe airport. Sleep in our eyes makes for much amusement.