Luxembourg (2011)


We finally travel to the capital of Luxembourg. Which is also called Luxembourg.

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Of course a visit to Luxembourg is not complete without, well… a visit to Luxembourg. It was a dreary morning as we got into the car and set course for the capital. Since Luxembourg (the country) is not particularly large and since the highway allowed us, much to Vonne’s pleasure, to put the pedal to the metal, it was not long before we approached Luxembourg (the city). Through an ultra-modern borough consisting of office buildings we headed into town, wondering whether the city center would offer more entertainment than our current surroundings.

Before finding out, we did have to drop the car off somewhere. Fortunately there were many electronic signs pointing us to the various parking garages Luxembourg offers and we decided to follow the ones for the “Centre” garage. It was still quite a while, and the number indicating the free spaces was lowering quite rapidly. As the first signs had shown around 300 places available, about five signs further there appeared to only be 100 left, leaving us wondering whether we would get there in time or spend half the day circling city center. In fact, neither happened. At one point a sign indicated Garage Centre to be straight ahead, but about a hundred meters further down, having seen nothing that even remotely indicated a garage entrance, it was no longer on the signs. We drew the convenient conclusion that the garage had been discontinued in the last few minutes and followed the signs to the garage near the station instead.

This was a pretty sizeable parking garage with plenty of free space and the advantage of being next to a train station with a large and beautiful tower, making it much easier to find than its city center cousin. We soon placed the Nissan between a few other parked cars and prepared to explore Luxembourg (the city). For now, this would have to occur from underneath an umbrella, as it had started raining and it did not seem to be a quicly passing shower. As the road into the center was a fairly sizeable shopping street, we took the opportunity to see what shops Luxembourg had to offer.

Shopping in Luxembourg

Now, if you are thinking to yourself: “Hey, that sounds pretty exotic and classy, shopping in Luxembourg City!”, you might just be fooled. We really could have entered any random Dutch shopping mall, as we discovered a WE, an H&M, a Subway’s and, hang on to your hats, a HEMA. And whether or not you really were hanging on to something at that last remark, you are going to have your socks knocked off when I tell you there was a Blokker too. Yes, you are on holiday abroad, you walk into the big modern shopping street and you still end up wondering whether or not you can exchange your Blokker-dubloons here. Long live globalization.*

The rain started to slowly subside and a few blue patches appeared between the grey of the clouds, so we headed for the old center. We reached Place Guillaume II, or the William II Square, first. The square is overlooked by a statue of William II of Orange on horseback, who is just able to catch his hat being blown off by the wind. A smaller copy of this statue is apparently located at the Dutch parliament buildings in The Hague, so it is likely an internationally known fact that William II had a tendency to lose his hat.

We carry on and find ourselves in the government quarter, as we are suddenly surrounded by large stately mansions carrying the word Ministère above the door in large lettering. I start to wonder whether we have not passed through a gate we should not have and would be little surprised if a black sedan with blinded windows came rolling up, containing men in suits who would ask us what we were doing there and whether we were perhaps Dutch spies on a reconnaissance mission for the Netherlands, intending to take back the grand duchy for the glory and honour of our soon-to-be King William IV. But, apparently the government buildings, or atleast its surroundings, are simply open to the public. Much the same went for the royal palace on the other side of the square, although that was at least guarded by a soldier in a cabin. We did not spot the duchal family, but that did not seem necessary as a tourist shop across the street carried at least two racks full of postcards with family photos, portraits and vacation shots of the duke and his family. They must be quite popular in Luxembourg, although neither of us could imagine exactly who would want to receive a photograph of a golfing duke and his son on a vacation postcard.

Walk through Grund and dinner

Across one of the walls along the ravine, which gives a great view of Grund, the old quarter of Luxembourg through which the river Alzette streams, we walked on. A path down the steep rock wall that an information sign said houses many lizards, we descended towards Luxembourg’s old city walls that were once built around Grund. This part of Luxembourg is really very pretty and any photograph of Grund could easily make the dictionary under the word ‘pittoresque’. After making a tour through Grund, we take a path upward on the other end back into modern-day Luxembourg. We reached the Place Guillaume II at the end of the afternoon and so we decided to find a restaurant. We found a nice steak restaurant and after a good meal and a quick goodbye to Charlotte, duchess of Luxembourg, we headed back to the station to retrieve the car and returned to Born.

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