This weekend was a spontaneous one, which is one of the benefits of living in Europe. What’s one to do when there is a soccer game (football match in European-speak) in Luxembourg city on a Friday night? One requests to leave early from work and road trips it down to Luxembourg (the country). I don’t want to poke fun, but you have to at least smile when the capital city, in this case Luxembourg city, has the same name as the country, Luxembourg, or is it the country after the capital city? Another humorous example from my homeland just to show you I’m not biased: Quebec City anyone?
The soccer game was fun. We went as a group in two cars and we donned the blue, yellow and red Romanian flag. The guys draped a huge flag over their shoulders, others wore a Romania jersey and I waved a small Romanian flag – enthusiastically mind you. The game ended: Romania-2 and Luxembourg-0. Both goals happened at the beginning of the game and then the rest was kind of a ballet dance of ball passing to kill the time. It was a qualifying game so I’m sure they had good reason to not play their hearts out.
The next day was for visiting the city. Starting the day off at the market in Place Guillaume II to enjoy some fresh fruit and a German – I would call it and apple danish (because it had a long name that started with “Apl” and I couldn’t pronounce it). There is a Hotel de Ville in this square, but it’s not considered one of the attractions like it is one of the main ones in Brussels.
What I didn’t know at the time was that there is another Place right next to it called Place d’Armes, which is the most lively place in Luxembourg city. There was a live band playing with a conductor and everything. I felt sorry for the players as it was over 25 degrees and they were dressed in suits. Also adding to the excitement was the numerous small tables set up with antiques for sale. I’m not sure how antique they actually were because they looked brand new and everything seemed to cost one Euro. So I’d say, save the Euro for a beverage at one of the lovely terraces, which reminded me of Place du Tertre in Paris because they were set up in the middle of the Place rather than right outside the door of the restaurant.
Luxembourg city is one of the cleanest cities I’ve visited in Europe so far. It reminded me of Aachen (Germany). The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (referring to the country now) is trilingual with the majority of people speaking French, German and Luxembourgish. It is now the world’s only remaining sovereign grand duchy. To me Luxembourg looks more like a German city even though its a mix between the three languages/cultures. The servers at the terraces spoke French (and English willingly). Its also interesting to know that the tax (or VAT) was only 3% rather than the 21% in Belgium and the other high amounts in the neighboring countries. Not to mention that it has one of the world’s highest gross domestic product per capita (GDP) and what does that translate to? Expensive beautiful cars and super shopping streets. When touring through the city you will pass by Porches, Mercedes, Guess and Cartier.
Traveller’s tip: dress nice! I mean bring out your nicest looking pair of pants or slickest skirt, wear nice shoes and an ironed shirt. Hair and makeup is a must for the ladies. I felt like a sore thumb compared to the fancy locals. Its almost worse than Paris because you don’t expect it and the city is smaller so you’re more noticeable. So take precautions when packing.
As there was only one day to explore the city, I stopped at the tourist office and picked up a city map. Walking was the best way to see the city. Taking a bus tour or even the walking tour wouldn’t have been as enjoyable. This way you can follow the map which has all of the points of interest marked by number and a few sentences about each spot.
The spent the most time taking in the views of the city. Just sitting and staring out into the valley filled with lush green tress and the perfect houses. It is one of the most picturesque scenes and there are many angles from which to admire it. You can take a lift (massive elevator) to the top of Place du St. Espirit to get the best views of the city. Luxembourg has a balcony called the Corniche with the most beautiful view.
As luck would have it there happened to be a classic car tour in Place Guillieme II in the evening. The cars rolled in one-by-one through the entrance gates into the square. They parked beside one another in a line up of gems. What I found the most interesting part was comparing the European cars to the few American cars that were there.
Why is everything bigger in North America? Because we have the space for it. There is NO way that that Lincoln would fit into the average European parking place. Might as well find the closest field in the outskirts of the city or an empty bus lane for this limousine-sized car.
Finally, Luxembourg city is also home to the European Institutions (like Brussels) including the European Court of Justice. The buildings in Luxembourg stand out more than in Brussels. They are secluded in their own area of the city and you can see the sun reflecting off the shiny windows from the look-out points across the city, but up close they are truly dazzling.
The country of Luxembourg is also known for its numerous chateaux (or castles). Since it was a day trip, there wasn’t enough time. Luxembourg city is definitely near the top of my list of weekend destinations. I loved its cleanliness, its charm and, unlike some other European cities with multiple cultures, it has a pleasant mix of Luxembourgeois, French and German culture which blended well together in what appears to be beautiful harmony.
Have you been to Luxembourg? Have you visited any of the chateaux or other cities? What do you think? A little hidden gem in the middle of Europe?
Until next time,
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