Remember the tagline, “Where does all the money go?” from Payday, that Parker Brothers board game? It’s a bit like that here in Luxembourg in August, only it’s not about missing money. It’s about people. “Where do all the people go?”
I think of it as Luxodus, movement of the ex-pats.
And where do most of these people go? More than likely, back to their home country for a few weeks. This could be any of the other 26 countries currently in the EU. Why not? Most workers here have ample holiday time, and since many European citizens outside of Luxembourg also have time off at this time of year, it’s likely that family members and friends back home are on holiday too. If those aren’t reasons enough, consider that the person in the cubicle next to you (and next to him or her and so on) is off also, so why not join the fun.
In my day and in my neck of the woods, no one went back home in the summer because we were all already home. But many families did go on vacation. There were typically only two or three places, and almost all roads led north to… drum roll, please… Wisconsin.
“Where?!” I can hear some chortle in amusement or befuddlement. “Wisconsin” is my deadpan reply. Although you may have heard of this state only recently because of a negative event, America’s Dairyland (as it is sometimes known) was (and probably still is) the summer hotspot for most families where I come from. Be it The Dells, the bluffs, or else having or knowing someone with a summer cottage there, at some point the family station wagon was packed and on its way to dwell among the Cheeseheads.
But the entire summer wasn’t spent up north. With only two weeks of vacation per year, a family daren’t use up those ten days at one destination and/or in one season. Thus, there were always people around the neighborhood.
As for Luxembourg, it becomes a bit of a ghost town this time of year. I’m not complaining. There’s no traffic on the roads, no crowds while shopping, and movement around Kirchberg is nowhere near as chaotic as it normally can be.
Nevertheless, it will always be difficult for any of us to feel at home here if we and our friends are leaving all the time. Not only does the city in summer feel like Chernobyl; any break beyond the typical two day weekend makes living in Luxembourg during those times seem like a stroll along a seaside boardwalk in winter.
Hence, it makes no difference where the people go if they’re not here.