I’ve always had a fascination for a handful of microstates: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, San Marino. There are others, like Vatican City, but the first five I named in this posting I’ve followed for decades. Although I’m a Quaker and I don’t bet, I reckon I would be a Trivial Pursuit champion for facts about these tiny countries in Europe. Maybe my newest fascination — with the Tiny House Movement — is no accident!
I also love trivia about monarchies, which Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and Luxembourg can be considered, although they are technically principalities and a Grand Duchy. I lived in Europe for several years, but I’ve never actually been to any microstates. The closest I ever came was when my family lived in Bonn, but Ellen was a baby, Ben was a full-time professor, and it was not the right time to indulge in anything more than learning to be a parent, training for the Bonn marathon and reading the novel Désirée by Annemarie Selinko.
This time of year, the Women’s Tennis Association holds the Luxembourg Open. It is one of the most significant sporting events for the microstate. Over the years, its champions have included Victoria Azarenka, Jennifer Capriati, Elena Dementieva, Ana Ivanovic, Mary Pierce, Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters, many of whom will someday be enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The only reigning Grand Duke and Grand Duchess left in the world have applauded them. It’s a big deal for the country, and for many top players, it’s a last chance to qualify for the end-of-the-year championships.
Luxembourg is the largest of the microstates, and the only one that holds an international tennis tournament for the women, although the Monte-Carlo Masters is widely considered to be among the most prestigious events on the men’s tour.
So this time of year, my busiest at work, and with a marathon looming in two months, I lighten up on tennis after the year-end-championships and a guilty pleasure pastime of dreaming about Luxembourg. Scheinen Dag nach! (Have a nice day!)