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  • Day11

    Dudelange, Luxembourg

    July 7, 2016 in Luxembourg ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    South of the city of Luxembourg, our stopover was 1.5km out of the town of Dudelange. We passed through a FairTrade town to get here. It reminded us of Stourbridge back home.

    We waited until after the hottest part of the day and set off to explore. We passed a brightly painted skate park whose users were preparing for an upcoming competition. (We'd occasionally seen a skateboarder pop up to the stopover to stock up on free water before heading back to the ramps).
    We indulged in some chocolate at a Fair Trade shop and lamented about the UK's Leave vote with the shopkeeper who spoke 'a little English'. She worried Britain was 'all about the economy' (i.e. rich people getting richer) and the people were forgotten about. She feared England would be isolated if they left, telling us the people of Luxembourg knew the value of migrants, with 60,000 French commuting daily, not to mention the Belgians and Germans who lived here.

    A large proportion of the town centre was behind fencing as it was being turned into a shared area for pedestrians, cars and cyclists. The main square outside the town hall however was beautiful and laid out with red deckchairs for people to watch the Tour de France on a huge screen on the town hall. There were several cafes around the square and as our stopover was free we treated ourselves to ice cream and an espresso!

    Loving the bright colours on the houses we've seen since crossing the border, makes things look really cheerful.
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  • Day464

    Biodiversum, Schengen pt 1

    October 3, 2017 in Luxembourg ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    We couldn't do a tour of Luxembourg and not visit Schengen, the town that gave its name to the historic treaty, signed here 32 years ago. It led to the abolition of internal border checks within what became known as the Schengen Area, then comprising of 5 European Economic Community States; France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and of course Luxembourg.

    On the way we topped up on LPG at a very busy petrol station. People were going in and out, their shopping trolleys stacked with cigarettes and other items bought in bulk. We soon realised that being so close to France and Germany, people were nipping over the border to fill up with cheap fuel, fags and whatever other low tax items they could get cheaper here than in their home country.

    We parked a few miles out of Schengen town at a nature reserve with a visitor centre called 'Biodiversum'. The reserve's long quiet road had gravel parking off to either side and car parks at either end whose bays were marked out by small trees and logs. We pulled up adjacent to a football pitch, separated from us by a large fence and hawthorn hedge. Our view to the front was of a vine clad hillside with a coppice and solitary wind turbine on its summit. We were now in Luxembourg's section of the Moselle Valley and the farmers were making good use if the microclimate that produces such good conditions for growing grapes! We enjoyed watching the colours change in the sky as the sun settled behind the hill that evening.

    In the morning we took the cycle track that ran between the road and river all the way in to Schengen, 2 miles upstream. Nearning the town centre we passed a number of artworks, celebrating Schengen's role in uniting communities. Chaining the bike to a signpost we came accross a midweek food market. Specialist stalls run by small scale producers sold goat cheese, salami and homemade honey along with beautifully presented vegetables, including a table of garlic, chilli and onions. Wooden tables were set up in the middle of the market corridor. People took time to rest on benches or lean nonchalantly against the higher tables, their fingers tearing at flakey croissants, wrapped around cups of hot chocolate or pinching the stems of glasses containing white wine or some pinky orange cocktail. It seemed likely that they came regularly to get a bit of shopping then meet with friends or family and there was a real buzz in the air. The produce on the stalls was good quality and so we splashed out and bought a bagful of food, including some fresh dates- something neither of us had seen for sale before.

    We dragged each other away from the delicious looking foods and took a look round the floating tourist information office; an undulating tube of a building. It had a decent variety of EU orientated souvenirs but nothing caught our eye.

    After cycling back we ate, recovered our energy, then put the canoe on its little trolley and wheeled it over the road to the steep bank of the Moselle. We had flown, taken the train, driven, cycled and walked across country borders before, but we had never paddled. With the river as the dividing line between Luxembourg and Germany, this was the perfect opportunity! We followed the border all the way up to Schengen town, where the market was now packing up. Will consulted the gps on his phone and was able to position us at the point where the third country France, met with Germany and Luxembourg! It was on a boat moored at this very spot that ministers signed the famous Schengen Treaty that paved the way for the creation of an area that today spans 26 countries and more that 1.6 million square miles, where there are effectively no internal border checks. We have enjoyed our freedom of movement within Europe so much over the past 15 and a half months that it felt like a very significant place to be. You can watch the short video we filmed here:

    The day's exertions meant we slept well that night, but we couldn't leave the following morning without taking a walk around one of the Nature Reserve ponds. The 'Biodiversum' centre wasn't open when we passed it but it was an interesting looking building covered with small wooden tiles. Many of the reserve facilities seemed to have been made with local materials, such as the bike rack comprising of a large tree trunk with wedges cut for you to place your bike wheel in. It was windy and the air had a chill in it so many of the birds were tucked away but we saw a Black Kite, a few Coots on the water and Blue Tits amongst the tree leaves. One thing we did spot was a Damselfly clinging to a shrivelled brown leaf. Its damp wings were spread wide and as the sun peeped out from behind the clouds the moisture made them sparkle!
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  • Day466


    October 5, 2017 in Luxembourg ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    We'd visited Echternach the last time we came to Luxembourg and had planned to stay at the stellplatz in town. We'd been put out to see a sign banning vans from the overnight spot and the car park beside the lake between 10pm and 8am. Perhaps there had been a change of adminsitration since the stellplatz was set up. At least they still provided free town parking for vans and a service point. For this reason we gave them another go.

    It was necessary to park the van with its wheels overhanging the service area but we made sure we didn't block the road in any way. The handle of the drinking water tap had been removed but we were able to turn it with pliers. As we were filling up a woman in an expensive looking car passed us, her gesticulations making it clear she didn't like our being there. We drove out of town and parked near the Youth Hostel on the shore of Echternach Lake where there weren't any restrictions. The sky was dull and only a few dog walkers passed by our windows. We later took advantage of a spell of partially sunny weather to wander around the lake. It had been a warm summer's day when we'd last visited and the place had been buzzing with families and groups of youngsters- a real contrast to the peaceful quiet that now pervaded.

    The following morning we explored the quaint streets with their old style town houses. We went in one shop to buy an umbrella and the friendly and relaxed owner greeted us first in Letzeburgesch, then French, German and finally tried English - she'd talked so fast and flipped between the different languages so quickly that we hadn't been able to keep track and work out what she was saying, despite knowing two out of the first three!

    For lunch we went to the Hostellerie de la Basilique- somewhere that our nephew Dave's parents used to eat. We certainly weren't let down by the recommendation! It had a smart but not pretentious restaurant and a good selection of dishes. We chose from the weekly menu where you could order one, two or three courses for a fixed price. Will's blood sausage with apple sauce and boiled potatoes and Vicky's vegetable pasta dish were both perfectly cooked and well presented. We enjoyed them with a little Riesling before tucking into scrumptious iceream profiteroles and a faultless crème brûlée. The service and atmosphere were spot on. We thought back to the poor service and pasta we'd been presented with last Friday and smiled - this is how it should be done! After a poor start, Echternach had charmed us with its lovely lake, its town centre atmosphere and the fantastic meal. Glowing from the good experience, we carried on to find somewhere we could park for the night.
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  • Day25


    June 28, 2018 in Luxembourg ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Retraced my train steps a bit this morning to return to Koblenz and spotted a few more Rhine castles en route. Changed here for another train to take me down the lovely Moselle Valley. Calmer with river traffic than the Rhine, this was another beautiful trip in the morning sunshine, with vineyards lining the rolling banks of the river. I remember staying at a B&B here with Mum and Dad. Dad was in his element sitting in the garden facing the Moselle with a glass of wine made on the premises. As usual, I was keen to push on and he said ‘just you go ahead, you can pick me up here on the way back’.

    Visiting this area reminded me of another place we stayed at on our German trip. It was getting late and we stopped at the first ‘Zimmer Frei’ (rooms vacant) sign we could see. It was a small hotel unfortunately named Hotel F…k. In the morning I asked my Dad if the hotel had lived up to its name and he replied with a big grin ‘oh yes’. Mum just smiled and shook her head and said ‘see that man!’

    We passed through Trier, the oldest city in Germany, and soon arrived at the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. One of the smallest sovereign states in Europe, it came across as a charming place, easy to walk about and see the main sights. I visited the vast underground system of passages and galleries known as the casemates which are one of the major tourist attractions. Then had a lovely walk along the Corniche - nicknamed the most beautiful balcony in Europe. Had a nice local Luxembourg dish for dinner - some kind of boiled ham with roast potatoes and broad beans. I had forgotten how much I like broad beans. And all washed down with a refreshing Luxembourg white wine - delish!
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  • Day456

    Clervaux, Luxembourg! #11

    September 25, 2017 in Luxembourg ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Today we began a fortnight's tour of Luxembourg. We'd previously visited a couple of times but we'd now scheduled a block in which we would try and explore, whilst immersing ourselves in the culture. As such, it was country number 11 of our 5 Year European Adventure.

    The father of our nephew Dave is from Luxembourg so we'd got some inside info on the best places to visit. The first of these was the pretty town of Clervaux, where Dave's parents met. The parish church was the first feature that caught our eye as we approached from a road that wound down the hillside into the valley. The two spires and circular stained glass window of the church the Lonely Planet described as 'neo-Romanesque' stuck up above the autumnal tree canopy.

    The beauty of the place had obviously made it a hive for tourists but being a Monday lunchtime in late September, it was quiet and we had space to wander up the highstreet lined by restaurants, hotels and cafés. There were a few other shops including a bakers with some delicious looking pastries but these were closed for lunch. Along the way we noticed large photo boards mounted on rocks or set to stand in public gardens. Clervaux was apparently 'Cité de l'Image' and considering our interest in photography, it really enhanced the place for us. In the whitewashed castle there was a photographic exhibition called The Family of Man, but this was only open a few days a week, Monday unfortunately not being one if them.

    We hadn't thought too much about how coming south would improve the temperatures but it was yet another warm, clear day. Wanting to make the most of the good weather we walked up the switchback road to the abbey high on a wooded hill. It was a functioning monastery with a small group of monks living there. They sold homemade apple juice but still being lunch time the shop was closed so we had a look around the exhibit showing the life and works of the monks before taking a forest track back down the hill.

    There was a stellplatz in a nearby town so we didn't stay overnight in Clervaux, but were very glad we had visited such a beautiful little town- thanks for the recommendation Dave!
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  • Day469

    Äddi (goodbye) Luxembourg!

    October 8, 2017 in Luxembourg ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We try to enter each country with an open mind and with as few preconceptions as possible but to be honest, in our heart of hearts we weren't looking forward to touring Luxembourg. It wasn't anything specific against the country, it was the fact we'd spent 3 and a half months in the beautiful, remote, peaceful countries of Norway and Sweden and had fallen in love with life up there. We found ourselves clinging to their memory as we travelled down through Denmark and Germany and the roads became more congested, the towns more frequent and busy, the people more hurried and seemingly less relaxed.

    Luxembourg therefore had a hard act to follow. After 2 weeks of touring, here are our thoughts on our time in this little country:

    As we've mentioned before, we had good recommendations of places to visit from our nephew Dave, whose Dad is from Luxembourg. We scanned our Lonely Planet guide but decided on 'Dave's Discovery Tour'!

    Luxembourg is a small country and we found ourselves able to set a relaxing pace, staying in many places for 2 nights and only travelling short distances between them. It gave us time to get out and explore by foot, bike and canoe, because we weren't too tired from driving. The roads were good quality, if slightly too narrow for our 3.5t van to go as fast as a car would along the winding woodland roads that followed the course of river valleys.

    When planning our stay we looked at the relatively few stellplatz with a little apprehension, as we'd been unable to find out definitively whether wild camping was allowed. Again, the compact nature of the country came in to play- despite there being only a handful of official stopovers, we were never far from one and are now confindent wild camping is allowed. Each of the places we stayed was free, as were most of the service points. Some, such as Redange and Dudelange even had free electricity! The only improvement would have been better recycling facilities. Parking for daytime visits was also free and usually easy to access, even in the capital city at the weekends! Only a few towns such as Echternach and Esch-sur-Sûre deterred motorhome parking in certain places. This combined with the cheap fuel, short driving distances and affordable food and drink, made Luxembourg an inexpensive place for us to visit.

    Coming from Scandinavia, the weather was pleasantly warm for September/ October and we enjoyed several days topping up on vitamin D in our t-shirts. Early Autumn was a great time of year to visit; many Luxembourgeois towns are nestled in forested river valleys and linked by woodland corridors. We got to watch the leaves changing to red, yellow, orange and brown before they were blown off in flurries that created gorgeous seasonal carpets. We get the feeling that in summer, the narrow streets and small car parks get packed. As it was, we parked easily and avoided the crowds. Historic settlements were able to exude their natural charm as we explored their quaint shops, stoic castles and pretty stone churches at our own unhurried pace.

    One of the things we relished about Luxembourg was getting back to using the small independent shops such as bakeries. They had been in short supply in Sweden and Norway, the only difficulty here was which one to choose! Because eatery prices are about on par with the UK we were able to return to treating ourselves to a meal out once a week- another thing we'd missed up north. We found the beer wasn't really to our taste but there was a good selection of white wines from the Moselle Valley vineyards that more than made up for this.

    The people we encountered were friendly and easy going. With close to 180,000 people making a daily cross border commute to work in Luxembourg, the country is used to foreigners and we were fascinated by the mix of tongues. Letzeburgesch, French and German are all official languages and many locals move fluidly between them when talking to different people. English is also widely spoken which was a bonus for us!

    If you spend even a small amount of time touring Luxembourg you will gain a strong sense of where it is in Europe. We had a lot of fun walking and paddling our canoe over the French and German borders and to end our visit we drove into Belgium. It also made us think about how much we value the freedom of movement we are gifted with in the Schengen Area.

    Most of the places we stayed were in small towns but we were never far from nature. Luxembourg's natural treasure is its meandering rivers and their steep sided, forest covered valleys, glowing with the golden hues of autumn and often filled with mist as you wake. We were given access to both woodland and water and revelled in many a happy hour spent hiking through glades and gliding over the top of gently flowing currents.

    Two weeks was a good amount of time for us to spend touring Luxembourg; you could stay longer in each spot and of course there were lots of places we didn't see. However, it is a country you can get to know well in a relatively short time and we feel we have gone a good way towards doing this. From an unenthusiastic start, this quaint and charming little country has won us round. We now think fondly of it, because lets face it, when it comes to Luxembourg, what's not to like?

    Thanks again to Dave and his Dad for their 'Discovery Tour'!
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  • Day468

    Layby near Vianden

    October 7, 2017 in Luxembourg ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    After leaving Echternach we wound our way along a gorgeous tree lined valley on a road that snaked a course above the river's path. At some points the river formed the national border and at one point we crossed a bridge, only to find ourselves in Germany. Returning to Luxembourg a little further upstream, we eventually found a layby of bare earth and long grass in a forest. The road was quiet and it was good to get away from the bustle of town parking and see the stars twinkling in a dark sky when night fell.

    The last place that had been recommended for us to visit in Luxembourg was Vianden and so after a restful night's sleep we tootled the few kilometres down the hill and parked up at the base of the chairlift. Vianden was nestled at the bottom of the valley along the River Our. The streets were narrow, often cobbled and without pavements. A grand castle bore imposingly down from its defensive position high up on the steep valley slope. There was a fishing competition taking place and tens of thousands of euros worth of equipment was being dangled hopfully over the fast flowing water. A few coaches of tourists came in and took selfies on the stone bridge, chainsaws revved from the woods and the noise of Saturday morning vacuum cleaners reverberated off the walls of stone houses. It didn't look too busy but it sounded it and we retreated to the chairlift that scooped us calmly over the river, high up on to the wooded slopes. We enjoyed the ride and the zig zag walk down the forest track, stopping off for a close up look at the castle a third of the way down.
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  • Day456


    September 25, 2017 in Luxembourg ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    One of the great things about Luxembourg is its compact nature. From our daytime exlporations in Clervaux, we didn't need to drive far to the nearby town of Wiltz that provided a free stellplatz and facilities for €1. Cutting accross country the roads wind up and down the hills. They weren't very wide so we needed to drive slowly but this gave us time to appreciate the beautiful autumnal scenery, in particular the tree corridors through which the roads wended.

    Wiltz had made a real effort with their 3 van stellplatz, with planted borders to each of the bays. It was opposite a bike park and although we didn't see many bikes, the local nursery brought their children on an outing each of the mornings we were there.

    The town was set on a steep hillside and Will needed to be careful not to hurt the tendons on the soles of his feet. He was excited to have found a fish and chip shop on Maps.Me and therefore needed to be very restrained, limiting himself to a slow stroll up to the centre. He was pretty disappointed when we saw the shop was now a French style café. We are sure their food was very nice but after 15 months without easy to one of his favourite dishes, he is craving the sort of food served by Netherton Fish Bar back home.

    One thing that has struck us since leaving Sweden is the smell of car fumes and cigarette smoke. It was easy to forget about the clean air as we were breathing it up north, but not so easy to reacclimatise now we are back in civilisation. On our way up we came across a memorial tower. Its spiral staircase was behind a gate but it was open for us to climb! It was great to get above the place and see it from a different perspective. The flower gardens, patterned cobblestones and colourful houses all nestled amongst the greens, yellows and oranges of the surrounding woodland and fields.

    We bought some bread and chose a cake each from the boulangerie. There is a real mix of languages in this country, Letzeburgesch has been one of the official languages since 1984 but French and German are also official. Many people can speak English but the assistant who sold us the bread and cakes didn't. We both know a little French and German and listening to people talk is very interesting. There are words we understand from each of the languages but also ones that sound a bit familiar but belong to neither. We feel we should understand it but don't.

    We sat on a bench in the square at the base of the tower and ate our cakes, a mocha gateux for Will and a rasberry mousse for Vicky -mmm! After this we stopped in at the tourist information office and asked whether it was legal to park for the night outside of designated motorhome spots. The attendant assured us it was, but then it transpired she didn't know about the town's stellplatz. Oh well. We asked if there were any opportunities for horseriding and after a while she found a flyer and called to try and book, but despite her leaving a message and taking our number we haven't heard back. Never mind, at least we tried.

    We enjoyed our two night stay in Wiltz and it was really nice to know we were in a small country so didn't need to spend hours travelling the following day.
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  • Day461


    September 30, 2017 in Luxembourg ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    Following our visit to Luxembourg City we drove to the stellplatz at Dudelange in the south of the country. It was a return visit, having stayed on a hot day last summer. We were lucky to get one of the 8 places in this popular stopover, as there ended up being almost as many vans parked outside the official site, as in it, on both nights we were there. There was a reason for revisiting Dudelange: only after we had left last year did we discover that it was where our nephew Dave's Dad had grown up and lived before he moved to the UK. We wanted to spend time in the area with knowledge of this connection.

    The grey skies relented and allowed the sun to peak through the next morning when we took to one of the labyrinth of trails for a hike. It didn't look too promising as we set off across the car park and past the electricity substation but very soon we found ourselves away from the road and into an almost magical atmosphere. The woodland floor covered in rich reddy-brown leaves and water droplets hanging from foliage while the sun shone spotlights through the still green canopy, making them sparkle. There were miles of trails, on and off a hard, well maintained track. Mountain bikers skidded down the muddy slopes, dog walkers exercised their canine companions, families and couples strolled or marched according to their energy levels. We hadn't explored this side of Dudelange before and it was a very pleasant discovery this time round.

    Before we left the next day we took a trip past the updated skate and bike park into town. We so rarely revisit places that the streets felt very familiar following our previous stay. The deckchairs on the town square had now been replaced with a glass sided, white topped marquee and the roadworks that had been so invasive were now gone from the centre (we'd spent 20 minutes driving round in circles when we arrived due to closed roads on the outskirts). Instead of being drowned in the usual multinational stores that make the ground floors of many highstreets carbon copies of one another, Dudelange had many small shops we hadn't heard of, which was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately most of them were closed on Mondays, but some were open and we picked up a few bits and bobs, including some more streusels from one of the many café bakeries.

    Unfortunately it was drizzling with rain and a little cold so it wasn't a day to hang around and we made our way back past the play park and large museum and cultural centre to our warm dry van.
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  • Day463


    October 2, 2017 in Luxembourg ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    After leaving Dudelange we picked up some shopping including a refil for our dehumindifier (essential when living, cooking and drying clothes in such a small space) and a new 12 volt extension with USB sockets to charge Will's laptop, our phones and other electric gadgets. Heading east we parked up accross two of Mondorf-les-Bains' designated van bays which were a little too short to allow us to fit inside just one. We were impressed that the cars around stuck to their own area and none of the designated bays had been commandeered for their convenience as has been the case in some other countries.

    Residential flats bordered the car park but there was a wide walkway with grass, trees and hedges for Poppy to get her nose stuck in to. The apartments, some of them quite upmarket with balconies, all had shutters on to keep the heat of the sun at bay- it had been a while since we'd seen this!

    Looking at the map, we discovered we were only half a km from the French border so in the morning we walked into France! Being in the Schengen area there were no big signs announcing the border that ran along the pavement at the edge of town. The only way we knew we were crossing it was to look at our position on Maps.Me! In France a little bridge led over a shallow stream before opening up into grassland and woods. We only went a hundred metres or so over the wet and muddy ground to a horses' field before turning back. To celebrate, we bought a couple of croissants from a café bakery in Luxembourg and took them back to the van to eat with a cuppa.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Luxemburg, Luxembourg, Laksembɛg, ሉክሰምበርግ, Luxemburgo, Letseburg, لوكسمبورج, ܠܘܟܣܡܒܘܪܓ, Luxemburgu, Lüksemburq, Люксембург, Likisanburu, লাক্সেমবার্গ, ལཀ་ཛམ་བོརྒ།, Luksembourg, Luksemburg, Lucembursko, Luksembùrskô, Lwcsembwrg, ލަޒަންބާ, Lazembɔg nutome, Λουξεμβούργο, Luksemburgio, Luxenburgo, لوکزامبورگ, Liksembuur, Luksemborg, Luxembôrg, Lúksemboarch, Lucsamburg, લક્ઝમબર્ગ, Lukusambur, לוקסמבורג, लक्समबर्ग, Luxemburgska, Լյուքսեմբուրգ, Luxemburgia, Lúxemborg, Lussemburgo, ルクセンブルグ, ლუქსემბურგი, Lasembagi, លុចហ្សំបួរ, ಲಕ್ಸಂಬರ್ಗ್, 룩셈부르크, لوکسەمبورگ, Lushaborg, Luxemburgum, Groussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg, Lukisembaaga, Luxembörg, Likisambulu, ລຸກແຊມເບີກ, Liuksemburgas, Luksemburga, Lioksamboro, Луксембург, ലക്സംബര്‍ഗ്, लक्झेंबर्ग, Lussemburgu, လူဇင်ဘတ်, Luxemborg, लक्जेमबर्ग, ଲକ୍ସେମବର୍ଗ, Lussemborg, Luksimbur, Lussembûrg, Lukusamburu, Lugzambûru, Luxembursko, Luksemboorg, லக்ஸ்சம்பர்க், లక్సంబర్గ్, ประเทศลักเซมเบิร์ก, Lakisimipeki, Lüksemburg, ليۇكسېمبۇرگ, لگژمبرگ, Lúc-xăm-bua, Luxämburgän, Grande-Dutcheye do Lussimbork, Orílẹ́ède Lusemogi, 卢森堡, i-Luxembourg

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