But we're getting way ahead of today's story. First we have to bore you with lost and found and lost, red guides, new money, and hotel clubs before we get on the train. Cuddles sits on the marble topped desk of the Best Western Hotel.  The clerk smiles for the camera while another guest looks on bemusedly Cuddles talking to clerk

It was an improving weather day: at four a.m. we were awakened by cold wind-driven wain against the window, but by six p.m. it was mostly sunny and warmer.

Anyhow, to begin at the beginning, and be brief. We set off to buy a Michelin Red Guide and one more postcard for Cuddles to send, left our umbrella at the bookstore, decided we liked Mercure Hotels, found out they have a club which costs about $150 to join but gives 15% off on their hotel rooms plus a stamp for each night -- ten stamps is a free room -- so about 25% overall. Since there are lots of Mercure Hotels in France we decided to risk it. We join all the slot clubs anyway. Then we remembered the umbrella, it was still at the book store, ate lunch, and got on the train to Clervaux.

We did have Clervaux, in Luxembourg, and Clairvaux, in France, confused. The tower apparently is at least 100 feet above the ground, with a mottled construction of alternating dark and light stones, and many arches and windows to an octagonal tower Clervaux Abbey The train ride to Clervaux was wonderful. Would have been perfect except Bob left his hat on the luggage rack in the train. Elsa, scampering back in to hunt it, barely got off before the train went on. Bob says he needed to get a new hat anyway. Anyhow, Clervaux is in the Ardennes -- forested hilly country with swollen rivers from all the rain we've been having. Gradually as the train went north from Luxembourg city, stopping in all the stations, the scenery got more and more beautiful and rural.

When we finally got to Clervaux we wanted to see the Abbey. There it was, up on the hill. How to get there? The hotel's closed; the bus driver had no French; the bus driver's buddy, said walk up; maybe sometimes there's a taxi at the local garage and we could walk there (clearly everybody but wimps does the walk). We're dealing with real country people here, folks. Few words and not a lot of help. Back to the train station, which at least was warm and dry, if dark and empty. Ahem! Ahem! brought the station manager out of his back In front of the Abbey door stands a smiling Benedictine monk in a black habit Benedictine monk room where he might have been dozing. How to get a cab? In town. How to get to the abbey? Walk. How long to walk to the cab in town? Twenty minutes. But it's cold, can you call a cab? All right. Cab will be here in five minutes. Twenty francs for the phone call. Was he surly, or just bored? Outside of a woman walking her dog the town appeared deserted. Twenty minutes later, no cab. We're about ready to take the train back to the city.

Then the cab comes, and up we go to the abbey. Up and up and up, high on the hill. (Yes, too far to walk!) As we pull in, a monk comes out. Yes he knows about St. Bernard, but no, that is Clairvaux, etc. But would we see the exhibit and the church? We did. To the monk's delight, we took his picture in front of the door to the Abbey. These are Benedictines, and this is a working monastery. We raced through the exhibit and our cab took us back down to the station. On the return journey to the city we wondered why the train tooted before entering each tunnel, We imagined the deer scooting out of the other end of the tunnel just in time.