I had never really thought about visiting Luxembourg, but since taking a route along the Mosel river had sent us in that direction, we thought it made sense to take a look.
This morning everything was in a cloud, including our washing line. So our cycle shorts weren’t dry, but in the plus side the misty morning views were pretty good.
Luxembourg has three languages: French, German and, wait for it… Luxembourgish. I was intrigued to see what languages would be used where. As it turned out the road signs were in French, the people in the supermarket just over the border spoke German (makes sense, really) and I have yet to hear Luxembourgish (which, let’s face it, sounds a bit like a made up word).
A bit of internet research revealed that French is the “official” language of Luxembourg, while German is quite widely used, for example by the media and the church. Citizens are expected to be fluent in all three languages, and interestingly are spoken to in German during primary school, and in French during secondary school. Most of them learn English too, as well as obviously squeezing in Luxembourgish at some point. Impressive!
Luxembourg is the country with the highest GDP in Europe, and indeed we did see a lot of flashy cars once we crossed the border. Something else that was weird was that all the licence plates in Luxembourg are YELLOW. Crazy, I know.
The countryside felt like a slightly neater France, with rolling hills, tidy fields and herds of cows.
We reached our campsite before lunch, and sat on a picnic bench eating the old ham and cheese sandwich while we waited for reception to open. At 2 o’clock a serious-looking woman ushered me into her office and sternly informed me that we were not allowed into the campsite until we had been to the reception. That’s a new one… most campsite owners are surprised to learn that you haven’t already pitched your tent by the time you come to see them. Despite seeming not to like customers, the woman had a really nice campsite for a very reasonable price, and it included the holy grail of campsites: decent free wifi. It’s Netflix time…
Monday 31st August
It was the last official day of summer, and the sun was shining.
We took a bus into the centre of Luxembourg (the capital city, not the country – because that’s not confusing!) to see what we could see.
As it was a bank holiday there was a huge market going on throughout the whole of the centre of town, and the place was packed with people shopping.
Great, you might think. But it was a little bit disappointing as a tourist. The market wasn’t selling anything that seemed especially Luxembourg-specific. Instead it was the usual market tat: cheap clothes, shoes, discount perfume and hot dog stands.
Authentic Luxembourgish boxers.
Luxembourg does have some good parks. However, compared to the other cities we’ve seen recently (Strasbourg, Salzburg, Ljubljana and Zagreb) you have to look a bit harder to find beautiful architecture. It’s there, but there’s not reams of it.
I had found Luxembourg one of the more disappointing cities, especially since Luxembourg (the country) is such an interesting place, being multi-lingual, very wealthy and the only grand duchy left in the world. It’s our fault really, we should have done some more research into things to do and see. The next city is Brussels – I promise to try harder.
Tuesday 1st September
In the night there was a thunderstorm, and rain so heavy that the water rebounded up into the inner layer of our tent – our first ever breach! It was still raining heavily in the morning, and after checking the weather forecast we decided not to cycle (we have gotten very soft).
We spent the morning watching online TV and reading in the tent. Eric was perfectly happy, I was going a bit crazy.
By 2 the rain had died down so we ventured out to get some food. After lunch we got out of the tent and played a game of catch, which gradually evolved into a cross between crazy golf and dodgeball: one person does a set repeated movement (preferably something amusing eg. gyrating lunge) and the other person has to hit them with the ball, scoring 10 points for a headshot, 2 for a leg etc. It’s at these moments that I really appreciate being unemployed.
After dinner the storm clouds began to look threatening again, so we dived back into the tent (urgh).
With the arrival of September the final countdown for the European part of our travels has begun, as we have to be back at Eric’s parent’s house by the 19th of this month. We’re really beginning to fantasise about real beds and home cooking now. But first, time to see Belgium…