Day 1: Luxembourg


We both slept a good 7 hours and woke up a little before 7am. We had breakfast at the hotel buffet, which was pretty decent. Food-wise, German breakfasts aren’t that different from American food, except for timing: I’ve haven’t eaten pork-n-beans for breakfast since the last time I was here. Now that I mention it, that was probably the last time I ate them period. Deli meats and cheeses for breakfast also. And mushrooms, always mushrooms. They actually go good with the pork-n-beans!

We headed to the train station together, our trains leaving about 4 minutes apart: Dan’s to Monheim for work, mine to Luxembourg.

 

I do love the trains and the train stations! I took one bound for Koblenz, a town we did on our first trip 2 years ago, where I would transfer. It is somehow comforting to do something familiar on my way to something new. The train was packed with workers until Bonn – a stop I made last year – and then it looked like this.

So a very comfortable ride until Koblenz, although there were a few delays and I missed the connection I had planned. I would get to Luxembourg an hour later than I originally thought, but I had nothing scheduled so it didn’t matter. It ended up being 4.5 hours on the train. It somehow went by very fast. I didn’t mind it at all, it was very relaxing. This was the little corner I had all to myself, with a plug to charge my phone even.

 

I snapped this off my phone just after leaving Koblenz. Today I am going to Luxembourg City, tomorrow stopping in Trier on the way back.

This also gives you an idea of the ground I covered today. Luxembourg is only about 125 miles from Cologne. It takes awhile by train because of all the stops. It’s faster by car but we have no interest in driving when we’re here. We really enjoy the public transportation. It’s way more relaxing than trying to drive on a number of levels.

Luxembourg is nestled between Germany, Belgium and France. At less than 1000 square miles, it’s smaller than Rhode Island. The entire country has less than 600,000 people, and roughly 20% of them live in Luxembourg City, the capital. According to the United Nations, it has the highest per person GDP in the world, with banking and finance contributing a big chunk to that. It is also the site of the European Court of Justice for the EU.

And by the way, some of the best travel money I’ve spent is on the “pay as you go” international package Verizon offers. It’s available for most countries and has been just So Convenient to have. You don’t have to worry about roaming charges and can keep the cell/data part turned off to minimize charges. I really only use it a lot the first few days when I’m by myself, and wouldn’t do it any other way. Once Dan joins me we use his phone primarily because Bayer pays for that.

When you cross borders it automatically changes to the provider in that country Verizon has the deal with and you get text messages. These came in while I was on the train.

I checked into my hotel right at 2pm, took some things out of my bag I didn’t need and headed into town. The hotel is like 2 blocks from the train station and maybe .5 mile to the city center. There is an American Cemetery about 4 miles outside of town. I was thinking about going but since I got here an hour later than planned I decided to nix it. General Patton is buried there. Had no clue.

This town has interesting terrain. Lots of hills and valleys. My legs got a good workout today.

This is their Notre Dame. I went inside for a few minutes but it was nothing to write home about.

Europeans love American Presidents, especially the ones from WW1 and WW2. Paris had streets named after both FDR and Woodrow Wilson.

This is the full shot of the Constitution plaza from the picture above.

 

Lunch was at a little soup place. I had the international soup of the day, which was Jamaican. Almost like curry in coconut milk but not quite. Lots of red peppers and potatoes.

 They take their soup seriously.

 

This was a government administration building on one end of a nice square which I kept coming back to. It’s a small town after all. This was my first siting.

That’s the back side of Notre Dame behind another square. There was a restaurant with sidewalk seating right behind me.

And this was the square around the corner from that one! This was a hotel, with restaurants lining the right side out of view.

I headed over to The Casements. These are ruins of a fortress that had its beginnings in 963 AD, with old town down (way down) below it.

 

The Casements and the old town below were declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1994.

This is a monastery in old town looking down from the fortress area. The fortress was essentially a maze. Dark, really cold at times, lots of steep staircases, most frequently very narrow and spiral.

 A few cannons still lying around. These of course face away from old town. (But into the newer part!)
 I liked this photo for perspective. You get a sense of how old the fortress walls are. Note the small people at the top of it, as well as on the steps of the monastery left of center. It’s a pretty big drop.
Eventually I finally found my way down into old town and walked around there a bit. This was from the monastery looking back up at the fortress I’d been in earlier.
  I cheated on the way in and took an elevator, but tried to capture the walk back up via the photo below.

 

This is further back in the first square I was in earlier, around dinner time, so lots of people enjoying pretty nice weather. It was about 72, some sun, mostly overcast. I didn’t see a lot of food that interesting, but this place called “Bananas” had a fun menu with a lot of attitude so I popped in there for a TazLuxemburger (because you’re not in Hamburg, the menu reminded you). The taz was a salsa of sorts dumped on an open faced burger on focaccia. It was pretty tasty and the fries were excellent.

 

 

 As I was headed back I passed the same square and there was now an orchestra in the gazebo playing classical music. It was great!
My last shot of the terrain as I headed back over the bridge to my hotel.
 The little hotel I found through Booking.com, and my very little room below.

I did some meandering before going back in and found myself in a pretty seedy area just in the next block behind the hotel. Got out of there fast and found myself back at the train station. Stopped in to see what my options were for leaving tomorrow. I don’t have assigned seating so can just jump on any train I want going to Trier. Will probably do 9:26am.

I had heard that there wasn’t much to do here and that was definitely true. I’m glad I came, though, it’s still interesting to see people in other countries going about their daily lives. There are three “official” languages in Luxembourg – Luxembourgish, French, and German. And yet everyone I encountered spoke English as well.  It’s like a quintessential European city, it doesn’t really have a language or cuisine of its own. But I had fun.

And a PS: The guy on the right is Xavier Bettel, the 42 year old Prime Minister. The guy on the left is his husband, an architect named Gauthier Destenay. They’ve been together since 2010, and were married last month, May 15, a few months after it became legal here. That’s all 🙂

 

0 thoughts on “Day 1: Luxembourg”

  1. Steve Haas says:

    Thanks, Art. That's so funny you said that. I usually don't do a lot of food pictures, but right before I left my friend Melanie (who was the original inspiration for the blog on the 2013 trip) said the same thing and I thought "well I guess I should do more of it then." So thereyago!

  2. Nice first day. I love seeing pictures of the food.

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