Don’t have a cow, but Alex ate a horse


Last weekend we jetted off to the tiny country of Luxembourg, which sits on the border between Belgium, Germany, and France.  It’s the last part of the BeNeLux grouping, although we were scratching our heads a lot because it seemed like it should really be DeuFraLux, as there was a lot more of Germany and France apparent than Belgium or the Netherlands!

You can see that the country is much smaller than its name - only the "em" fit across its 35-mile width!  To put it into perspective, Rhode Island as the smallest US state is 50% larger than Luxembourg's 1000 square-mile size.  Don't get too confused on the Luxembourg, Luxembourg thing either (just think New York, New York).

You can see that the country is much smaller than its name – only the “em” fit across its 35-mile width! To put it into perspective, Rhode Island as the smallest US state is 50% larger than Luxembourg’s 1000 square-mile size. Don’t get too confused on the Luxembourg, Luxembourg thing either (just think New York, New York).

One of our friends was joking that it should really be called Deluxembourg, because it’s such a rich place. And walking down the main streets, it certainly seems that two out of three shop-fronts are banks! (The third store tended to alternate between trendy eyeglasses and couture lingerie.)

As if to make the point perfectly, this magazine was the prime one available in our hotel.  We got the idea, though, that the Luxembourgers keep their money stashed away, or spend it mostly behind closed doors - because apart from a lot of nice cars the place isn't too ostentatious.

As if to make the point perfectly, this magazine was the prime one available in our hotel. We got the idea, though, that the Luxembourgers keep their money stashed away, or spend it mostly behind closed doors – because apart from a lot of nice cars the place isn’t too ostentatious.

But to be perfectly honest, we weren’t blown away by Luxembourg. It was okay. It was alright. But there weren’t any ooohs or aaahs.

The city is oriented around the river Alzette, which is a tiny creek in a pretty big gorge.  (It reminded us of Pittsburgh or Ithaca.) The two halves are joined by a series of bridges – some old, some new – and there is a lively scene down below on the banks of the Alzette. A lift connects the lower level to the upper level of the city, but it seems a pity not to have any funiculars. It would be a perfect place for an incline or two!

A Pittsburgh-like scene with a lovely arch bridge known as the Pont Adolphe.  According to Wikipedia, this is one of the main tourist attractions and an unofficial national symbol (it is apparently also known as the New Bridge since it just opened in 1903).

A Pittsburgh-like scene with a lovely arch bridge known as the Pont Adolphe. According to Wikipedia, this is one of the main tourist attractions and an unofficial national symbol (it is apparently also known as the New Bridge since it just opened in 1903).

The foggy background of the old city on a hill was pretty nice, though, I have to admit (the damp cold wasn't!).

The foggy background of the old city on a hill was pretty nice, though, I have to admit (the damp cold wasn’t!).

Down along the river appears to be a nice and quiet place to live, with the main city above the government and banking zone.  Down along the river appears to be a nice and quiet place to live, with the main city above the government and banking zone.

The cathedral of Luxembourg was nice enough, but it did that thing which really annoys me.  I love OLD churches, and I love NEW churches, but I really dislike NEW churches that are built to look like OLD ones. This cathedral, although its cornerstone was laid in 1613, was massively expanded and redone in the late 1930s.   So, it contains all the elements of a medieval building, but they are shiny and sparkling – not the way I appreciate my gothic arches…sorry!

Here's the exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral, the Roman Catholic cathedral of Luxembourg City.  Although it has roots to Jesuits in the early 1600s, it was massively expanded and remodeled in the late 1930s, which seems to have given it its bland modern feel.  Sorry, but this is not one of the great cathedrals of Europe!

Here’s the exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral, the Roman Catholic cathedral of Luxembourg City. The 1935 to 1938 expansion and renovations seem to have given it its bland modern feel. Sorry, but this is not one of the great cathedrals of Europe!

We did have a lovely fondue dinner on the main square, and we enjoyed our second dinner at the Moselle Cantine. Alex had a horse fillet which was very good!  The meat is really tender, although perhaps with less flavour than beef. We were really tempted by the traditional Luxembourgish dish of pork knee and broad beans, but ultimately went for the horse.  (I had veal with champignons, as I’m a big fan of chomping on some champignons.)

This place was pretty old school - I'm pretty sure some old white Luxy bankers in suits were wheeling and dealing at the table next to us!

This place was pretty old school – I’m pretty sure some old white Luxy bankers in suits were wheeling and dealing at the table next to us!

The last bit of the weekend involved seeing a band that I like. This was really the reason for the whole trip – it was part of my birthday present back in July, but this was the first concert date we could actually get tickets for!  The band is Bastille, and if you haven’t heard of them, I recommend you look up the songs “Pompeii” and “Flaws” – both of which are pretty catchy.  The only problem with going to the concert was that it made me feel really, really old. Almost everyone there looked to be about 12! At first I thought I was just being paranoid, but afterward there was a line of cars around the block –parents waiting to pick up the kiddies!

IMG-20131111-00640

We didn’t mind staying in the back!

Unfortunately we missed seeing the Casements – which I suspect might have changed my mind about Luxembourg. They’re supposed to be really neat walkways and artillery stores carved into the canyon walls. You could see them from the bridge, but they’re only open to explore during the summer months. Although a return trip to Luxembourg isn’t too high on the list, we’ll definitely stop back at some point to explore the cool caverns.

You can see the Casements on the right in the hillside - definitely the most promising part of this city that is not (or at least should not be) on the main tourist circuits.

You can see the Casements on the right in the hillside – definitely the most promising part of this city that is not (or at least should not be) on the main tourist circuits.

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Posted on 21/11/2013, in travel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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