I’ve always thought about Luxembourg (if I ever bothered to think about it at all) as ‘one of those little European countries.’ But I now think that everyone should visit it at least once.
Luxembourg is the only surviving Grand Duchy in the world.
Most of Luxembourg’s history is still hidden under layer upon layer of construction.
Every time they start to renovate a building, they go down, down, and down, but they still don’t reach the beginning of civilisation.
We have ‘Elf ‘n Safety making all our rules, but in Luxembourg, they have UNESCO. They’re not allowed to have a Metro system as there’s so much undiscovered history still lying buried under the ground.
I leaned on a fence, looking straight down at the lower level of the city and the river.
As a Brit, I’m used to seeing wobbly Medieval buildings that clearly show their ages.
Somehow, rows of immaculate, upright old houses seems a bit like cheating. Or maybe they had better builders than us.
Luxembourg, one of the smallest countries in Europe, has a population of around 537,000. This swells every day and drops again in the evenings when the workers go home!
Around 68% of the population arrive daily from France, Belgium and Germany, and only 32% are locals.
Hotels are busy and full during the week, with lots of business meetings, but they’re often empty at the weekend, which is a great time to visit Luxembourg as you can find some excellent deals then.
Luxembourg City was known as ‘The Gibraltar of the North.’
(Everywhere in Luxembourg seems to have a title.)
I sat in a town square full of bars and cafes, sipping a glass of Cremant, which is the Luxembourg name for their Champagne.
You can buy it by the glassful, which I thought was wonderful!
Then we walked along to the 450-year-old Palace. It has no gardens.
Opposite is the famous old Chocolate House. On the wooden shelves are different-flavoured blocks of chocolate with a wooden spoon embedded in them, and in front of me was an irresistible selection of home-made gateaux.
The waitress brought us mugs of hot, steaming milk which we dunked our chocolate squares in. Of course, they melted, adding the flavour to the milk.
What a simple, enjoyable idea!
The chosen platefuls of cake arrived. And when I say platefuls, I mean it!
As a foodie person, I loved Luxembourg. It boasts more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any other country in the world.
As I’ve noticed in some other countries, they really enjoy their food and wine, but there were no fat, wobbly people!
Why? What are they doing that we aren’t?
I’m sure that the answer is, natural, local ingredients, then relax and enjoy them.
We drove to Schengen, where the Schengen Agreement, removing Border controls, was signed.
The good thing was, it stopped the nightmare border traffic jams. The bad thing was, all the Customs Officers lost their jobs!
There is an iron monument there. It’s going rusty, which annoyed us a bit.
(Note to self; bring some Brillo Pads along next time.
Would I be arrested and charged with cleaning a historical monument?)
Lunch in the Schenger Scheir restaurant was very good. It’s decorated in red, white and black. I’m surprised that we were the only ones in there.
Next, we had a tasting of local wines, followed by a lovely cruise on the Moselle River, with drinks and nibblies. It started at Remich, which is like a seaside town, but beside the river, if you know what I mean.
We checked in to a brand new hotel called Hotel Ecluse.
Right, let’s be honest now; as a keen craft worker, I love Boutique Hotels, with lots of colour, shapes, ornaments, etc.
This hotel has a lot to look at, and is situated right beside the river.
But in the bedrooms, the bathroom/toilet is walled in glass.
Our party was divided about this. We Brits didn’t like it at all. We like our privacy. But the Europeans couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about!
In the morning we drove on to ‘Luxembourg’s Little Switzerland,’ (another title,) to Echternach, Luxembourg’s oldest town, listed on UNESCO’S Immaterial World Heritage list (whatever that is!) It has narrow lanes and ancient (but clean and upright) houses.
We met our guide outside the Cathedral and she gave us an explanation of the surrounding buildings.
One of our group, a well-endowed German lady (I’ll call her Helga) had been there before.
‘Tell zem about ze roof tiles!’ she called.
Our guide obeyed her instructions.
Willibrod, AKA The Venerable Bede, arrived in Echternach with 11 companions in the 7th Century and, inspired by Lindisfarne, he converted everyone to Christianity.
There are a lot of fountains in the town which were used for baptism.
‘Tell zem about ze Revolution!’ called Helga. A faint flush appeared on our guide’s neck.
Willibrod was buried in the church, moved during the French Revolution, then moved back again.
We walked through the marketplace. ‘What’s that old building over there?’ I asked our guide.
‘It’s ze Town Hall!’ Helga shouted behind me.
‘One guide at a time, please,’ I said sweetly, turning round.
‘It’s the old Town Hall,’ the official guide told me, smiling gratefully. The flush had reached the top of her neck now.
Crossing the road, we walked along by the river.
Guide No 1 pointed across the river. ‘That’s Germany on the other side,’ she told us.
We Brits found it hard to picture a foreign country just a few yards away.
‘Tell zem about ze bridge!’ bellowed Guide No 2.
It was formerly a Roman bridge, but it was destroyed during the Battle of the Bulge, then rebuilt.
Helga strode ahead along the river, walking parallel with her own country, telling us about the park. She’d finally completely taken over as Official Guide. A couple of people followed behind her.
Everyone else had scattered in different directions.
Our guide dragged miserably along behind us. Her face was flushed now.
I walked beside her, asking her about her job to cheer her up.
As we crossed the road, our coach turned into the car park. Helga increased her pace and stomped towards it, holding her rolled-up umbrella aloft. ‘Komm along, zis vay!’ she ordered.
We all meekly marched along behind her. Well, we didn’t dare argue.
Our guide turned in the opposite direction and rushed away with her head down. She looked back at us once and I noticed that her flush had gone.