Change Edition

The turtle on wheels is loose again!

The turtle on wheels is loose again!

23.08.2013 From our online archive
In his latest 'Taking a Break' column Dan Franch explains why getting stuck behind the Petrusse Express turns him into a "raging locomotive".

By Dan Franch

“That damn train!” I’ve found myself grumbling once again. Has anyone else been saying something similar?

If so, it’s probably because, like me, you’ve come in contact with Luxembourg’s tourist train, the Petrusse Express. Yes, indeed, the turtle on wheels is loose again, taken out from its winter mothballs.

Can you think of a more blatant misnomer for that metal garden snake?

I know; it’s a tourist ride meant to give people the opportunity to enjoy the sites and history of The Grand Duchy’s capital. But the Petrusse Putt-Putt moves slower than the river it trundles along. No need for Casey Jones to watch his speed.

Having been a truck driver in and around the Chicago, I’ve seen plenty of slow moving traffic of all kinds, including trains. I was often caught at a crossing watching hundred-car freight trains pass, listening to the “thdunk-thdunk” of the iron wheels rolling along the rails, counting cars, and wondering about what was in them, where the train came from or where it was going. It was mesmerizing. There’s none of those musings while following the Petrusse ExSTress.

What a nightmare when I come up behind it on my way through The Grund. Once past the Casemates, the road becomes narrow and winding as the green “PE” slowly rolls down the cobblestones just underneath “Europe’s most beautiful balcony,” then grinds its way back up the valley. There’s often a long seething serpentine back-up at the top of Rue de Prague waiting for the train to turn and make its way over the Passerelle Bridge. When it does, I make my getaway; my destination in the opposite direction.

Yet, I do find some solace, at least when the boys are in the car. They boarded the Petrusse Express with my parents last summer. It’s a nice memory that calms my ire, but only when they’re with me.

When they’re not and I find myself caught in back of those caterpillar carriages, I turn into a raging locomotive. My hands chug up and down, my head turns into a smokestack -- steam rising from it - and expletives louder than a train whistle seethe from the grill of my gritted teeth.

At that moment, I am not a train bound for glory.