Yet again, the Road Warrior – the best travel adapter – had the opportunity of passing through another country…but with very little time! This time we found ourselves in neighbouring France, with the chance of visiting the small country of Luxembourg. Who couldn’t resist? After all, Luxembourg is easy to navigate because it is one of the smallest countries of the world (according to Wikipedia, it is ranked #179 of 194 independent countries) at a size of just under 2,600 square kilometers (under 1,000 square miles), or 82 kilometers long (51 miles) and 57 kilometers wide (35 miles). Luxembourg is landlocked and surrounded by Belgium to the west, Germany to the east and France to the south. There are only around a half a million people who live in this small country. Despite its small size, Luxembourg ranks near the top of the list of most affluent countries in the world, having a very high GDP (estimated in 2011 at over US$80,000!) as it has become a hub for european banking.
We drove to our main destination, the capital city…aptly named “Luxembourg”. The city of Luxembourg is located in the southern part of the country and only has a population of about 100,000 people. It is a very quaint city that, because of its location and natural geography, has historically been used strategically in military combat. As you visit the city, you will see many fortifications, a castle and roads that go up and down with the many valleys…and a very rich history because some of the city dates back to the early 10th century! In fact, the old parts of the city have been named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here’s what we did in our day in Luxembourg. What a tour!
1. Grand Ducal Palace
We wanted to catch a glimpse of royalty…or even meet one of the princes of the reigning Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg. The reigning Grand Duke has 4 sons and 1 daughter, and at the time of our visit (before October 2012), two of the oldest sons had not been married! Rumor had it that they used to dress down and hang out at the local bars to casually meet ladies without revealing their identities!
Anyhow, all antics aside, the palace is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the city, built in the 16th century renaissance period. Apparently in the summertime, the city gives tours of the interior, although we did not have time to do this tour.
2. CCRN Abbey of Neumünster Cultural Centre
Difficult to also miss because of its impressive architecture, the CCRN Abbey of Neumünster is now a culture centre that hosts performances in the arts. At one points, it was a Benedictine abbey, a military bastion and even a former prison during the occupation by the Nazis! It is located in the old quarters of the city on the banks of the Alzette River.
Inside, an auditorium that seats 300 people holds concerts and arts productions. Most popular are two Jazz festivals held each year called the “Piano Plus” and “Autumn Leaves” which have put this small cultural centre on the map by international jazz enthusiasts. If you have time to spend in the city, check out the center’s website to see what’s on: https://www.ccrn.lu/en
3. Passerelle (Luxembourg Viaduct)
Running from the south into the city centre, this viaduct crosses the Petrusse river and valley in a series of arches. It’s quite picturesque, with its long length and high rise above the valley floor — 45 meters high, to be exact! For residents, it is known as the Old Bridge, and was built between 1859 and 1861 to connect the city’s centre its railway station. On a summer day, it provides a beautiful view of the city, and likewise the view from the city to the Passerelle is equally pretty!
4. And…the food!
During our one day in Luxembourg, we went on a mission to find one of the local cuisines that we heard much about…the Quetschentaart. It’s a damson plum tart that is supposed to be a tasty treat! Unfortunately…we had our seasons off, as apparently this speciality is only available in the autumn, after the local plums have ripened. Instead, we enjoyed a lovely evening at a cafe in the city center. Most of the local cuisine seemed to be influenced by neighboring Germany, Belgium and France. But there was a spattering of international cuisine with many modern choices available! We weren’t disappointed.
We’re certain that one day in Luxembourg was not enough time to see and do everything and we will definitely be back to experience more of this amazing little country.
Until the next time, the Road Warrior Team wishes you safe and Happy Travels from the small yet mighty Luxembourg!