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Luxembourg

Curious what backpackers do in Luxembourg? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • 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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  • Our nephew recommended Lake Echternacht in Luxembourg as a favourite of his parent's. We'd planned to stay in the town's stopover, eat out and explore the lake and surrounding area known as Little Switzerland for it's natural beauty. However we were disappointed to find a sign saying vans were no longer allowed overnight. Needing to find somewhere to stay we decided to head straight to the lake then move on so we could find somewhere before tea. Lake Echternacht itself was nestled amongst small tree covered hills and rolling farmland. It had a great family feel to it as we cycled round. Groups gathered around the bbq stands scattered around, several people swam and there were plenty of people walking, cycling, sitting and rollerskating as well as a few on hired peddle boats.Read more

  • Well after a cancelled rail journey( 9:18) to leave at 13:33 ( real 13:40) and what should have been 45 min , we arrived at Luxembourg at 15:00 . Rail info not good- unknown whether we can get to Aachen on our booked tickets , .So the hotel has a nice layout. We then walked to the casements Bloch& it was open until 8 pm - great !S was very keen to visit these& only 8€ for 2 of us . It was interesting. Raining now, quite heavily. Took dome nice photos. We hadn't had any lunch except some mccas chips & coffee hours before, so on our way through the Grund, a UNESCO area there was a pub-- Scott's pub so in we went.... 1 pizza later & 6 beers later( it was happy hour & the guy got our order wrong so instead of 1 Guiness& 1 German we got double) & that was after our first beers!!! We managed!! Walked back to hotel , there were road stoppages because of a cycling event( in the pouring rain) got our rail tickets & visited station for an update. No luck so far, have to go there tomorrow before 7 am. We are looking forward to visiting Deborah and family!,,,,,Read more

  • Day 30:

    Today was a little rocky for us, but had its upsides too. We woke up late again because of those fortress style blackout curtains and had a hearty breakfast. Then, to make sure we got to the station as efficiently as possible, we left our directions to Google Maps. Who proceeded to add over a mile and half an hour to our journey by having us zig zag our way to the city center. After finding out we didn't need reservations for our trains, we decided to stick to our plans and check out the cathedral again. We checked our bags into a storage locker and headed there.

    We went inside the church again, and yes, its just as awe inspiring the second time. This time we were able to go behind the altar and see The Shrine of the Three Kings. Its the whole reason the church was built, and said to contain the remains of the three Magi. It was delivered, with a huge medieval precession of course, to the city of Köln in 1164. It sort of isn't worth trying to describe, so best bet would be to google it. Its this golden, shining box that contains the remains of men who were already old enough to be kings going on long, stargazing journeys at the turn of the.... not century, not millennium... era? So these fellas were born in fill-in-the-blank BC... crazy.

    We bought tickets to both climb the tower (why we would do this again is confusing) and the treasury. The tower climb was very cool and we had amazing sights of the Rhine River and the whole town. The tower is known for having the largest free swinging bell and we saw that beast! But again we found everyone around us huffing and puffing as we were just unreasonably scared. Luckily, we were contained inside for all of it, though. Its nice to take a minute and just think about where we are and how many people have been in the towers over their time. Speaking of numbers, realizing that you're 98 meters above ground also gives you a certain feeling...

    Then we went to the cathedral treasury. We are so sad that we weren't allowed to take pictures, because the items in there were beyond words. There were items from as far back as 300 AD, perfectly maintained coins, other things that we don't exactly know how to describe since we're not Catholic, and even the remains of an ancient Roman plumbing system from a building built on the site prior to the cathedral. The detail that people were capable so long ago is truly impressive.

    After our revisit of the cathedral, we headed towards Luxembourg. Unfortunately, we made the assumption that regional trains in Germany wouls be similar to those in Scandinavia... not so. We rushed to the station and were hard-pressed to find seats with any storage above, but finally did in the bike section. Everything was peachy for about 4 stops. Then the electricity shut off and it simply (in German) said get off the train. Apparently they were leaving several of the cars behind, and we had to scramble up to the front 3 to continue. So we stood for a couple of stops before seats opened up. After situating ourselves, a herd, yes, herd of a family came on and took over the whole section. They were loud, smelled awful, and were moving around the entire time. Time came for our switch and we had to just short of run to to reach the next train on time. We felt a sigh of relief after that.

    A short-ish walk later and we got to our next place to stay. Then we went to the only place serving or selling food within a half hour walk, a Thai place. We ended up having to run back after our meal because when they say rain in Europe, they mean RAIN. Not a slow start, not a trickle, like heavens opening rain. Somehow between goofy running and an awkwardly created bouquet of weeds and trees, it was a good night. Let's see what tomorrow brings.
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  • Day 31:

    About a minute out the door this morning, we were in an open grassy field that we thought was the most magnificent thing we would see all day. 30 second's walk after some mild frolicking, we were in a deep forest. The forest floor was still damp from the rain last night, ivy had grown up the trunks of the trees, there was such a deep green to everything around, and birds were singing everywhere. It was majestic. Then a few steps up the path and we were in Luxembourg suburbia. As we passed through, there were wide expanses of fields, far beyond what our first little field was like. We followed a switchback road through what felt otherworldly, like rain forests in jurrasic park (for nerdy reasons we don't need to get into), then up switchbacks to the top of a mountain.

    Atop this mountainous hill sat Fort Thüngen. Like many in Luxembourg, there is a sad story for this fort. It was built in the early 1700s as an awesome fortress to protect the Redoute du Parc, atop a large hill. Unfortunately, in the latter part of the 19th century, it was forced to be demolished to basically prove that Luxembourg truly intended to remain neutral. Fast forward to WWI, the desire to remain neutral meant very little to the Germans, and without any defenses, they were railroaded (literally and figuratively) very quickly. Fortunately for us, the fort has been restored to its former glory, but unfortunately for us, now awkwardly has a museum of modern art integrated into it.

    Hungry and desiring some of these promised French pastries, we fumbled our way into the city center. A couple bonjours and mercis later, we had pastries, sandwiches, and cookies. One of which was a pain de chocolat et vanille that must translate to unicorn tears. We ended up sitting in front of a turn of the century building that turned out to be the relatively uninteresting Cercle Municipal for about an hour, enjoying a saxophonist play Phantom of the Opera.

    After relaxing, we somehow avoided seeing a couple of the more noteable buildings in the city center and moved on to see the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. No, not the one containing a hunchback, but it was still quite nice. It was an interesting mix of styles, probably pointing to the fact that it took three and a quarter centuries to finish the building... we have definitely been spoiled by churches so far, but this one was special.

    Across the street stood the Monument du Souvenir, or the "Golden Lady". She has a history of her own, from after the first World War to present day. The Monument of Remembrance was originally built to honor the over 1% of the total population who volunteered in the French army to fight German occupation. Then WWII came around and the Germans came in again (despite pledged neutrality) and tore down the monument. It took half of the 20th century to build it back up, but it is a beautiful reminder of the brutality of war.

    Unfortunately for us, the Aldolphe Bridge was completely under construction, so we could not see any of it. That's a tough thing to miss considering it is seen as a national symbol for Luxembourg, but that's fine. Especially because we were able to see the Passerelle, just to the east. Slightly older, so we can convince ourselves its the better one.

    After a short, but tiring day, we headed to the central station to reserve our next train. As a foreward to this part of the story, we avoided going to France on this particular vacation because of, well, the French. But that didn't stop those dirty little frogs from messing up something... French trains are on strike. A common phrase around these parts. So double the connections and add a few hours... thanks for confirming our initial thoughts to not visit.

    Sandwiches, local brews, and a backed up drain later, its bedtime.
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  • Day 32:

    It seems unnecessary at this point to mention that we had another late morning... the forecast was bad, but the trusty window check showed a beautiful day. We headed east and soon were reminded of the volatility of the weather here. A big cloud burst later, we came upon the Cimetière Militaire Américain. Fortunately, the clouds cleared for us to visit the monument and pay respects to Great Uncle Donald who lost his life in Luxembourg in the Battle of the Bulge. Its a sobering experience to see the graves of so many who were fighting on foreign soil and realizing that those over 5,000 soldiers never returned to America. And triple that number were brought back to be buried at home. Studying the battles in school just can't put into perspective the true sacrifice. The best we can do at this point is feel love for those who fought against oppression, not hatred or regret for the aggressors.

    After a moving experience at the memorial, we headed back to the city center. It was an hour walk, with google maps trying to murder us by putting us basically in the middle of the street for half a kilometer. Danielle made friends with a couple of donkeys, as we discovered a super cool program Luxembourg has that puts sheep and donkeys on government lands to use grazing to naturally keep the plants trimmed. We also saw a little piece of home with some golden poppies growing along the road.

    We finally came upon the "Gibraltar of the North" just before the sky opened up and rained like we have never experienced before. But before we get into that bedlam... the whole reason Luxembourg exists is because this guy named Siegfried bought these sheer cliffs bordering the Pétrusse River. They were partially inhabited from the 4th century on, but once Count Siegfried purchased them in 963 to defend his lands in the surrounding areas.

    The Bock is a natural defense as amazingly high rocky cliffs, three sides around a river, which were dug out to create an intricate tunnel system, as well as built upon to make one of the most impressive fortresses in Europe. What we went through are known as the casemates, essentially places where you can launch stuff at enemies, but they have little to no chance of getting back at you. So basically this place was impenetrable. It was attacked a lot, but never taken, and each time expansions were built along with the repairs. But remember the brilliant British idea to ensure neutrality? Yea, this one had to be scrapped too.

    Back to our extreme weather experiences... we feel rain starting, and being seasoned experts on rain, we throw on our waterproof jackets and we were good, right? Wrong. This rain literally made us laugh it was so extreme. The lightning looked like it could be hitting trees righr next to us, and the thunder was literally right above us. To the point where we could hear it roll over us as it was crackling and shaking the ground. We hid under small rock out-shoots to escape momentarily as we made our way to wherever we thought we were going. But even then, water would flood over our feet as it poured down the stairs, so we were forced to keep moving. Then, Danielle explained it best, we felt like Mary and Joseph. Each time there would be shelter, people were under it and we would look at them like "please let us in" and each time people would look back like "no room in the inn". So at this point, our waterproof jackets kept our upper bodies dry, but our pants... soaked. Like jumped in a pool soaked. After some time, we finally made it to the entrance of the casemates, and of course, the rain stops.

    After getting mildly lost in what felt like miles of tunnels, we visited Saint Michael's Church, which was the site of the Count's castle chapel, built in 987. But as we've seen before, little lasts through wars, and it went through the same destroy and rebuild as most other churches. The current one was built in the 17th century, and that, in and of itself is pretty awesome.

    We picked up some waters and headed home from there. After stopping in to grab groceries on the way, guess what... rain. That crazy rain again. The locals were all hanging out under the eaves waiting before they left. But being crazy Americans, and deservedly receiving some looks, we booked it for home. Booking it being relative, of course, because we had a 29 minute walk from there. Protecting our hot chicken wings like they were viable eggs of a dinosaur, we made it home competely resoaked to the bone. Luckily there was no further flooding, and we even had an apologetic note from our host, along with Luxembourg sparkling wine and Belgian chocolates. Something must have happened to the wine because the bottle is empty. But chicken wings, cup o' noodles, and some sweet tunes were exactly what we needed tonight.
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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