Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Leisure in Luxembourg

Saying goodbye is usually difficult, but not when you're going to somewhere as charming as our next destination. From its terraced walls to its sloping streets, to houses older than America, walking into Luxembourg is like stepping into a 19th-century Dumas novel. Old-world European charm was never more readily apparent than here. [In case it wasn't obvious, Luke wrote this intro!]

An uneventful 3-hour train ride from Brussels found us in Luxembourg City, the clean and safe capital of Luxembourg. Seriously, I would have no problem walking around this town alone at night. I can't say that about almost anywhere else!

Luke and I briefly relaxed at the hotel before taking a bus into the city center. Priority #1 was getting my late-afternoon coffee fix (we all have addictions; this is mine). :P

Wherever you are in Europe, you'll be able to find a doner kebab restaurant. It's cheap, fast, and tasty. No wonder it's popular! After splitting a kebab plate for dinner, we walked along the edge of the city wall, overlooking the Alzette River and centuries-old buildings.

Roman aqueduct.

Yep, this was built in 1738!

The Bock fortifications.

St. John's church

It's no surprise that this French-speaking city has a neo-Gothic cathedral named Notre-Dame, but that actually wasn't it's original name (or design). Before the 1850s, it was a baroque church called Saint Nicolas et Sainte Thérèse.

Notre-Dame Cathedral, Luxembourg.

Are you sick of historic European churches yet? Yeah, so were we.

Gëlle Fra monument -- In memory of Luxembourgers who died in World War I.

I really wanted to check out a cafe called Chocolate House, and it turned out to be a great decision! We went on a Sunday night and it was cozy (read: crowded). Here's how it works: There are blocks of chocolate that are molded to wooden spoons; dozens of choices. You pick your flavor of chocolate and stir the choco-spoon into a mug of hot milk to melt it into a delicious cup of cocoa. It lived up to the hype!

The next day started roughly. At 8 a.m., housekeepers were vacuuming in the hallway and the thin hotel walls gave us front-row audio to other guests noisily packing their bags. We gave up on sleep and packed our suitcases, too. (There's not a ton to see and do in Luxembourg, so we only allotted 1.5 days there.)

For me, the best part of the city was spotting the painted elephants all over the place! These were created by artists for Elephant Parade to increase awareness about elephant conservation. I believe these pieces could be auctioned off to raise profits for the cause.

I even got to ride one!

Over the weeks, we accumulated some souvenirs to take home. That wasn't a problem when we were traveling via bus or train, but airports don't look kindly upon overstuffed hiking backpacks... and plus, they were getting heavy. Our easy (but slightly expensive) solution was to head to the post office and mail a box back to the U.S.

Grand Ducal Palace -- Where the Grand Duke of Luxembourg resides.

Palace entrance topped by the Luxembourg coat of arms.

Our last lunch in Luxembourg [alliteration, anyone?] was at the ubiquitous and reliable Subway, where I ate some pickle chips that did NOT taste like pickles. Gross!

The weather called for a leisurely stroll down the shaded, wooded paths and into the valley. So that's exactly what we did!

Ivy. Ivy everywhere!

I shall call these Luxembourg Bluebonnets.

It was time to take a bus back to the hotel and collect our bags. The shuttle ride to the airport was literally 2 minutes, so it couldn't have been more convenient!

We boarded a small propeller plane with 14 other passengers. These things are super loud and seem like death traps, but I obviously lived to tell the tale.

All in all, Luxembourg is quaint and peaceful, but it's not hopping with action. Still, it's worth a visit if you're in the area.

Next stop: London!

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