List Item: Visit all EU countries
Cool, this is the first new country that I have visited since I started this blog – it will be the first of two new countries once I am back from my honeymoon.
I would be lying if I said that the main reason that Luxembourg was the destination of this long weekend was because I want to visit all the EU nations. It also fills in a nice gap between Belgium, France and Germany.
I would also be lying if I didn’t say that I was sad to leave and that part of me is wondering what it would be like to live there… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Day 1 – Arrival
It’s great to have a flight in the early afternoon rather than first thing in the morning or last thing at night. It meant that we arrived at the hotel at around 5:30pm local time. As we were on the bus between the airport and out hotel there were a number of things that struck me. Firstly, just how clean and modern the city looked on the way in. Turns out that we were riding through Kirchberg, an area of the city that hosted many of the EU buildings as well as the Philharmonic building.
There was a part of me that wanted to get out early and just stand there looking at all the flags of the EU waving in the wind. I also wanted to go into there and just say hello like some weird groupie. I never did during the trip, which was probably for the best.
When we arrived at the hotel we stood bemused at the five stars on the front. I mean, we definitely did not pay a 5 star price. Turns out we paid the same price for our entire stay that would normally have been paid for one night. Insane.
So we walked around and, for the first time for ages, I started to fall for a city on the first night. Over the course of the long weekend there were two main comparisons that we started to make. The first being that Luxembourg City was as if someone from the Gilmore Girls set design decided to make a European city in the same way as Stars Hollow. The second being that the old town was like an area in EPCOT.
It was getting on so we went to get some dinner – the countries speciality of slow cooked pork shoulder with fried bacon and broad beans. It was ruddy delicious. It’s like some brilliant mix of French peasant food and German cooking. Brilliant.
As we were eating suddenly we could hear an accordion and people clapping their hands. Turned out that, in the square we were sat, was doing some sort of folk dancing in traditional dress. Again, this is not feeling like a capital city. Already I am feeling as if I can understand expats who live here.
Day 2 – The Casemates and Modern Art
For someone who hasn’t been able to walk properly for months due to plantar fasciitis I definitely pushed it today. My foot’s not too bad, which is an amazing sign for the upcoming Japanese honeymoon.
The main order of the day was to get the Lonely Planet item ticked off. It says the Capital Castles of Luxembourg. Having read the description it clearly means the casemates and the surrounding ruins. So, the Bock Casemates were our first port of call.
I have to say that these were pretty damned impressive considering how these were hewn out of impenetrable rock. There are two things that I think I will always remember about these casemates. The first being how many windows there were, thankfully because if you were a soldier in the casemates you would need the light. As a tourist, it meant you were never without a view of the surrounding city, which is beautiful.
The other thing was the sheer number of stairs, some that just ended up as a one way system… which meant the eventual climbing back up again. It was sunny an 17 degrees when we were exploring the casemates and it was feeling a bit close in some of the areas. I can only imagine how hot these would have gotten in the summer despite all the ventilation.
After the casemates we explored some more of the nearby ruins including the Hollow Tooth and the Three Towers. One thing that was quite fun during the holiday was spotting the Spanish turrets (pictured above). We saw four different ones over the course of the holiday in different places. It was like a architectural game of Where’s Wally.
We then went off to find some more forts and instead found a bronze statue of some deer making sweet love. It was confusing until I looked at the map and realised we had reached MUDAM – the museum of modern art.
It was interesting inside the MUDAM… but there were way too many guards and art students to patrons. It felt as if wherever we went there were three pairs of eyes fixed on us at all times. There were some interesting things like a chapel with stained glass windows made of x-rays and a robot tour guide that operated a few times a month. We soon left… just because it was getting uncomfortable.
List Item: Try half of the combined 1001 food books
Food items: Choucroute Garnie a l’Alsacienne and Weizenbier
Now, I didn’t go to Luxembourg with the aim to get listed food. I, somehow managed to get quite a few without really trying. I just sought to have things that I would not be able to easily get in the UK.
The weizenbier wasn’t mine, but I did try a bit for the sake of the list. It was actually one of the nicer beers that I have tried, mainly because it wasn’t too much like ale or lager. It was very smooth and didn’t taste too alcoholic to me.
The dinner, on the other hand, was very much mine. A complete accident that it is on the food list and I am glad it is because it was gorgeous. Technically all this dish is made of is sauerkraut with boiled potatoes and salty meats (usually sausages and some ham). I mean, what could be better than that?
To be continued on Friday.