Day Nine: Luxembourg

The morning airplanes woke me today which was fine as I wanted today to be a positive one. We had a complimentary breakfast of croissants and yoghurt before I braved the weather outside. It was still raining but this time, I had the umbrella.

I got on the bus and went into the city centre. At 10am I got to the sightseeing bus area and just missed the first hop on hop off bus. To pass time, I decided to look at the beautiful scenery on the edge of the Casemate (fortifications from the 17th century). I got onto the next bus and I was ready to learn about the city.

Luxembourg was founded in 963 AD and was a fortified city until the late 19th century. The fortifications were impenetrable to military forces until the French siege in 1792. Luxembourg was a Grand Duchy (state ruled by a duke/duchess) under the Dutch King William III. When he died and his daughter became queen, under Luxembourg rules, only males could rule a Grand Duchy and so Luxembourg became an independent country. Today, Luxembourg has a population of 582,000, their official language is Letzeburgesch - cross between French/German and they are ranked first in the world for nominal GDP per capita. In one suburb, there are over 150 financial institutions and it is known as the ‘Wall Street of Luxembourg’.

My first stop was the Luxembourg train station. It was originally wooden but in 1907 it was built in stone. It had a beautiful lead light above the entrance to the train platforms.

My second stop was the panoramic lift. It is an outdoor lift that is 65 metres high. It has an area at the top with a glass floor and I could not walk on it. I managed to just step on it to take a photo but I retreated back to solid flooring. At the bottom of the lift, is the beautiful town of Pfaffenthal. It was most picturesque, I actually couldn’t believe something could be so beautiful. I spent quite a while walking the cobblestone streets admiring the different painted houses and the sheer rock cliffs.

I got back onto the bus and headed for the shopping district. I had lunch firstly as it was 3pm and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I found a restaurant called 100Potates, a potato restaurant. I got chicken cordon Bleu with smashed potato and a Diekirch (Luxembourg) beer that came with potato chips. I popped next door to the shopping mall and had a look around. Everything was insanely expensive so I bought a €2 face mask and made my way out.

On the bus again, we went over the Adolfe Bridge which is the largest stone bridge built spanning over 100 metres long, 85 metres wide and 46 metres heigh. It is the main bridge leading into the city centre.

I got off the bus at the beginning/end of the line and went for a walk down a section that the bus didn’t take us. It happened to lead me to the Casemates du Bock, the fortification that surrounded the city dating back to the 17th century. There were over 23km of passageways to a depth of 40 metres and were used during the two world wars as shelters for over 35,000 civilians as well as horses, weapons a bakery and a slaughterhouse. In 1867, there was an attempt to dismantle the casemates but it could never be completely removed as it would damage the remainder of city and potentially crumble it.

After being completely amazed at the casemates, it was time for me to head back to the hotel as it was nearing 6pm. In my room I just took a 30 minute rest (didn’t sleep but took the weight off my feet). I went for dinner at the hotel's restaurant and had gnocchi with pesto. I went back to the car to make sure it hadn’t been towed and got a ticket so I can park until 10am tomorrow. I showered and put on my face mask whilst listening to the roar of the airplanes landing.

Things I have learnt in Luxembourg:

  • Four seasons in one day to the ‘extreme’
  • Bus drivers are the happiest in town
  • Everyone drives a Mercedes, even the taxi drivers. Unless you’re even richer and have a Bentley
  • No public parking unless you’re wealthy and can afford your Bentley being towed
  • The bus transport system is reliable and cheap
  • Food is expensive, stick to drinking the beer at €2.50 a bottle