One of the best ways to travel is with rugby players. First, they’re always good for a cold brew on the town. Second, they improve the quality of your photos. Historic sites become prime spots for line-outs. Sidewalks are as good a place as any for rucking. By the end of our trip, we’d taken to calling the place Ruxembourg. I’d like to say that we enjoyed some raucous evenings out on the town, stumbling in at the wee hours of dawn, but that would be a lie. Our first night ended with me curling up in bed and Gretel sipping beers with Claire’s parents in the living room. (I’ve just contradicted my first sentence, haven’t I?)
We met Sido at The Black Stuff, a pub nestled into a hillside on the bend of a winding mountain road. Really, the place looked like a lodge where chilled villagers could share a hearty pint after an afternoon of spearing wild boar. It is the perfect marriage of Ireland and Luxembourg in that everybody knows each other and Guinness is free-flowing.
“I arrived, but the owner said you weren’t here,” Sido told Claire in the parking lot. Upon entry, Claire was greeted with a flurry of hugs and kisses, as if she were the town’s prodigal daughter return home. It was lovely, and it scored us some quick beers. We retired to a wooden table in the back corner to catch up with Sido, who was as charmed by Luxembourg as Claire’s parents had been. Speaking of, her father appeared beside the table at one point, sipping a Guinness and jovially taking the piss out of his daughter. I began to see how easily one could lose track of the night at a place like this. It was homey and buzzing with that familial energy you find at Christmas parties. I would have easily stayed all night, but we had dinner reservations at a little subterranean bistro whose owners – surprise! – are friends of Claire’s family, earning us some free Baileys.
Unfortunately, we ordered a pitcher of red wine, a rookie mistake that would cost us the night. I was practically somnambulant when we staggered out onto the street – but not too sleepy for Chiggeri. The 2008 world record champion of the longest wine list was just around the corner, so it warranted a visit. LP says the place is decked out in some tribal decor, but we were too tired to notice anything apart from the framed award and a wine bottle display. Instead, we made our way down to a bar called The Tube which resembled – you guessed it – a tube station.
I’m always intrigued when I’m in a new country and they’ve got kitschy bars modeled after other countries. I think Luxembourg could benefit from a bar created in its own image – The Casement, perhaps, or just a small pub where everyone eats chocolate and knows each other. (Seriously, they do. On the drive home from the airport, Claire’s dad spotted two men walking along the roadside and said, “Oh, it’s Seamus and Phillip.”)
I would’ve liked to have seen more of Claire’s networking skills and some bar called Urban, but my body was too tired to rally. I blame the red wine and a slight intoxication on cheer and coziness.