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With the Stars in the Darkness

Elephant Hunting in Luxembourg


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One of the first things I noticed about Luxembourg was the elephant statues. There was one right as we got out of the train station, and then there was another one as we started our walk into town. The one outside the train station was covered in LED lightstrips and the one on the way into town was painted with shamrocks. Experience has taught me that when there are two statues of the same animal, separated by a decent distance and decorated in two unique styles, they're usually part of a larger collection. Experience did not mislead me this time.

The elephants were part of the Elephant Parade “the largest open air art exhibition in preservation of the Asian elephant worldwide.” (I can't imagine they have much competition in terms of other open-air art exhibitions in preservation of Asian elephants...) I learned this at the first plaque that I read, right next to an elephant named “Ein Herz Fur Elefanten” which was made out of metal circles, hollow, and had a big heart-shaped gap in both sides.

From that point on, I did the exact opposite of what the organizers of the Elephant Parade wanted. I went looking for elephants, and every time I saw one, I shot it (with a camera.)

Initially, I was wandering aimlessly around Luxembourg hoping that I'd find an elephant. I had much better luck than I would in most cities. (The Elephant Parade was also a an art exhibition in both Luxembourg and Trier, so I would have probably had decent luck there.) However, it was pretty aimless wandering. (“I can go right, left, or straight.” Peer down each direction. “I don't see any elephants. Which way is most likely to have an elephant? Hmm...”) They tended to be in more park-y areas, but sometimes the “park” would just be a small grassy square with an elephant in the middle. It was kind of hard to tell which roads would lead to the right kind of small grassy area.

I paused several times to appreciate the views of the city (it was a bit like Bern, in that from certain places at street level, you could look way down and see buildings. It was slightly more fairy-tale than Bern in that there was a castle, or at least the decently-preserved ruins of one- occasionally in view.) and passing but mostly, they could not compete with the elephants.

Right before dinner, I went to the Elephant Parade store and bought a map of Luxembour that had elephants marked on it. Besides making them much easier to look for, elephants, it gave me a better sense of what progress I was making. There wee 54 elephants in Luxembourg. I saw 47 of them, and took pictures of 46. (Remember how Luxembourg has multiple levels, so you can be at the top and getting really pretty views of the bottom? Sometimes those views include elephants.)

Some of the elephants were rather simple- one of them was painted completely pink except for the eyes (white and black), the toenails (white) and a silver bracelet of hearts around the leg. There was another one that was mostly black with silvery letters saying facts about how the Asian elephants were endangered. That one was a bit too obvious for my taste, given the other 53 elephants that were scattered around the city with plaques asking for help saving them.

Most of the elephants were far more complicated. There was one that had a map of Luxembourg on it. (More of an artistic hand-drawn map than a street map, and I would not have wanted to try and navigate around using it [“Now we take a right at his ear... I mean Rue de la Boucherie”] but it was still pretty neat.)

Some highlights:

Prinzofant: an elephant decorated like Le Petit Prince. I did not recognize that's what it was until I saw the sign, which was slightly depressing. I blame it on the fact that the figure riding on the top had red hair. Still, the elephant itself was painted a lot like the wall that I'd slept next to most nights last year. You'd think I'd be able to recognize it without a label...

Elevolutiona: an elephant that showed the evolution of elephants. There were different drawings of different kinds of elephants with their name and the general time period they were around for. Some of them looked a lot like modern elephants, some of them looked like wooly mammoths, some of them looked more like platypuses... it was interesting.

Wish and Blow: it was painted several shades ranging from pale yellow to dark green, and was covered in what was supposed to be dandelions but doubled as pigeon deterrents. It must have been effective, because not only did I not see any pigeons on that elephant, I didn't see them on any of the other elephants either!

Rachinee: She was one of the few elephants with a different pose. She was half sitting down, half croucing. She was painted black and covered in jewel-lloking things. She was also adorable, I think because her eyes were bigger than the others. Either that or her head was. I've heard both proposed as standards for cuteness.

Naturing Contrasting Civilization: This was one of the few elephants used both sides effectively. Most of the elephants had the second side just be a mirror of the first. This one had one side represent nature (forests, rivers, etc.) and other other side represent civilization (skyscrapers.) I approved of it because it also matched my definition of both.

Stardust: She was possibly the prettiest elephant I saw. Her head was light to medium blue, and the rest of her was dark blue to dark-dark-blue-indistinguishable-from-black and covered with stars and galaxies.

People: As my father and I were walking, we saw two American girls who looked to be between the drinking age in Luxembourg (14) and the age of the US (21.) One of them called across the street “excuse me! Do you speak English?” When we said “yes,” she went running across the street. Her friend crossed a little later when the car had passed.
“Do you know where this street is?” the first girl asked.
“Uh... isn't that the street we're on?”
“Oh. We were told that if we followed this street, we'd find bars. Is that right?”
“I'm not sure about that.”
“Hmm...”
“If you follow this street up, there are several bars up there.”
The two girls exchanged a look. “He said we weren't supposed to go up into the city...” the second girl said.
“We'll just follow this street,” the first girl chirped. “We'll probably find bars.”
And off they went. A little while later, we saw them with a much larger group of people, so presumably they succeeded. Though I have to wonder what they were like after a couple drinks, if sober them couldn't tell what street they were on or that the two people with American accents might not have any better knowledge of Luxembourg than they did...

Overall, it was a very pleasant way to spend a day in Luxembourg. It might have far less historical plaques than Paris (I saw two or three total. Only one of them was for an author [Jean Racine, poet and biographer of Louix XIV, who was at th same time as that king in Luxembourg between th 21 and 26 of May 1687.) If it hadn't been for the elephants, I probably would have been underwhelmed and bored by Luxembourg. As was, there were a half-dozen things I really wanted to see in Luxembourg that I didn't have time for.

Posted by Soseki 09:43 Archived in Luxembourg

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