Wednesday, February 12, 2020 | Written by Blanca
As much as it is part of the allure of a semester abroad, traveling week after week (or rather, weekend after weekend) can get tiring. While destinations like Venice and Barcelona certainly are glamorous, sleepless nights spent sitting on airport floors, shivering while waiting for the late night bus, and dashing across train platforms to catch your connecting train are decidedly less so. To compound matters for the worse, while scurrying about during my travels in weeks prior, lack of sleep and unfavorable weather contributed to a slight but persistent sniffle that simply would not go away.
So, while my friends had planned an eventful weekend excursion to Munich and the surrounding areas of Germany, I elected to stay back in Metz for some rest, relaxation, and work catch-up this past weekend. During this time, I also embarked on two day trips of my own, first exploring the twists and turns of the historic cobblestone streets of downtown Metz, and then, on the next day, the equally-cobbled streets of Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.
Each time, I was able to fully observe the nooks and crannies of the cities in question. In Metz, I wandered around the Ancienne Ville, strolling past artisan craftsman shops and ducking in and out of uniquely stocked concept stores. During a visit to boutique called POPWHITE CONCEPT STORE (82 En Fournirue), which was handsomely outfitted with twinkling string lights, vibrant faux flowers, luxurious homewares, and lavish charcuterie, I saw some uncannily realistic bread-shaped lamps, which I am now seriously considering purchasing and bringing back with me to the states for dorm décor. Downtown Metz has quite the smattering of home goods shops, and as these are some of my favorite places to visit while I pine for the days I might own a property of my own and furnish it top to bottom, they make day trips into Metz the interior design lover’s dream.
The next day, after a good night’s sleep and a morning trip to Cora (which is, by the way, the time of day when you get the best pick of produce and of pastries), I hopped on one of the many trains between Metz and Luxembourg. A quick 50-minute train ride and an even shorter bus trip to the city’s center later, I found myself, once again, in Luxembourg City. In a previous blog post, I detailed the events of my day trip with a large traveling group, but this time, I was visiting solo.
I have to say, traveling alone makes for an even more intimate experience in getting to know a place. While doing so obviously requires a heightened sense of caution, as you now lack the safety in numbers, I realized in Luxembourg that you truly get to explore on your own terms. Making and following my own itinerary gave me the freedom to wander as far as I pleased or to stand in the same spot for as long as I wanted, staring at the same artifact in a history museum. Alone in an otherwise bustling city, no architectural detail goes unnoticed, and no side street is too humdrum, too lacking in interest. Each avenue warrants a visit, even if it’s a quick stroll-through, and when traveling solo, the quaint shops and cafes that beckon do so just for you. Though I might’ve been unaccompanied by other people, in the welcoming embrace of a city abuzz with life and character, I definitely wasn’t alone.