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Entries in Luxembourg (2)

Monday
May282012

The Green Heart of Europe

We spent the day travelling around the countryside of Luxembourg. It is easy to think of Luxembourg the country as only Luxembourg, the eponymous city. But Luxembourg is not a city-state, it is a very rural country, with 80% of the population living in small towns scattered around the woodlands and farmlands of this mountainous province, a minature Switzerland.

We started the day in Echternach, the oldest town in Luxembourg. Echternach hugs the shore of the Sauer, the tiny river that marks the border with Germany. With the bright sun and perfect blue skies the river was full of kayakers and the riverbank lined with families. In the country of Schengen, it is appropriate to marvel that not so long ago paddling across this stream would have warranted a passport check and currency change.

Passing through rolling fields, playing in a park in Diekirch and viewing the castle perched above Vianden capped off a day which changed the way I see Luxembourg.

Tuesday
Sep092008

Sorry Luxembourg

Yesterday I caught the train from Amsterdam to Luxembourg City, a long train trip that crossed the breadth of Belgium and took over five hours. When I left in the morning the weather was miserable, cold and wet, the type of day where you take one look out of the window in the morning and climb back into bed to while away the hours with a good book. Surprisingly, after a couple of hours not only the rain but also the clouds disappeared, giving a glorious day with a deep blue sky and the type of white fluffy clouds I used to paint.

Getting off the train in Luxembourg City it seemed a world apart from Amsterdam or Brussels. Luxembourg is the perfect alpine castle, rising spires and turrets, old buildings with deep gray slate roofs.

The steep city walls rise up from the surrounding ravine and elegant bridges cross the expanse with the verdant green of the forest below, a combination of trees grown wild with their age and perfectly pedicured gardens. Walking along the top of walls you can see majestic views into the city and across the ravine. Walking along the base of the walls you marvel at their height. No wonder, like the ancient Athenians, Count Sigefroi chose this natural acropolis for his fort in 963 CE.

The city is truly a fairy tale kingdom. It reminded me very strongly of Veliko Tarnvo in Bulgaria, with perhaps a splash of Frankfurt. Despite this, within three or four hours I was wondering what it is I would do with my second day in the magical kingdom. Please Luxembourg, don't be offended - it is not you it is me, without Lydia by my side to share the pleasure even a fairy tale is less than satisfying.