Once upon a time, an Indian woman named Simran i.e. yours truly, found herself in a country known as Luxembourg; right in the heart of Europe for a month. She was initially supposed to be vacationing on the Eurorail for the month but she had missed the train Raj was on so instead her company shipped her off to Lux city for work. Luxembourg is never the place you think off when you think of Europe, you think beautiful cities such as Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Prague, and Amsterdam but never do you once think of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. But here I was in a place I have to admit I found out only existed three years ago. A place I had heard absolutely nothing about.
But this little country is in fact well-known as the fairy tale land; filled with fortresses, castles, and streets with little corners & cute boutiques. Lux boasted a population of over half a million primarily French-speaking with German and a trace of Luxembourgish. I had only just landed and even though I was jet lagged as hell I couldn’t wait to get out there and start exploring this beautiful city. Not knowing where to go at all, my first stop was obviously the tourist office. The lady at the tourist office was over enthusiastic, she spoke English but barely, with her hand movements and gestures she clearly was dying to help a lost poor soul like me or Luxembourg just didn’t get that many tourists and I was probably the first person to walk in that day. I am betting the latter.
If you do ever land up in the capital of Luxembourg, you should start with the visit to the casemates, the bock and the petrusse casemates; a tour of this abandoned fortified castle gives you a good idea of the history of Luxembourg. What was fascinating about these places that it was used as a military aid for thousands of civilians during both World War 1 and 2 where they would hide during air raids and shelling. I preferred the petrusse casemates over the bock ones because petrusse felt more authentic and bock well sort of felt like a tourist trap (but they are not surprisingly more famous). But never the less, the casemates are the cradle of Lux city and one must start their adventure from there (although I sort of ended up there by chance). The chill spot for all the tourists to hang out after work hours is Place D’armes which is bustling past 7 pm not a trait many other places in Luxembourg share. Its interesting that not many people know that the Dukè’s palace, the Grand Ducal Palace is actually open to visitors for viewing in the months of July and August (closed in Sep because he is back home duh). You might also want to check out the largest church in Luxembourg, Notre dame, nothing compared to St Pauls Cathedral in New York or Notre Dame Paris but still it’s something to admire while you’re there, Casino de Luxembourg, is not a casino, yea unfortunately that was the reason I entered the place, but it’s in fact an art gallery, a pretty smooth place to check out in the city for contemporary and out of the box art. Apart from the centre Ville, you can head out to Kichberg, the area my clients are based in, which is the home to the European centre headquarters and all the skyscrapers of the city including the Mudam (Museum of Modern Art)etc. It’s the area that houses the biggest mall Auchan as well as the biggest cinema in the country Utopolis. Nothing spectacular really but then again Europeans aren’t exactly big on indoor activities so one can’t complain.
Outside of Luxembourg city, you must definitely visit 3 out of these 4 cities, north of the country is Viandan, a city so beautiful that it will take your breath away (that’s not me it’s the brochure talking) but when you do get there, the first thing you do see is the castle of Viandan, you can’t miss it, it’s probably the main attraction to see in this city, a renaissance styled built architecture that was once the home of William I of Netherlands (ask me no more for that is all I learnt) along with its cable car ride leading up to a panoramic view of the entire city, You can explore this small little town in little under 4 hours; like I said, charming but still small. Oh and it also was the home of Victor Hugo, the famous French writer for some part of his life, in fact you can take a peek at his humble abode where he lived when he resided in Viandan. Half hour away from Viandan is Ettelbruck, I don’t know why people told me to visit this city, and I honestly didn’t see the big deal in it. I mean the grass and cows are cute really, coming from my home city that is truly nature starved, this was a real treat to the eyes at first and while I don’t agree that it gets boring to keep seeing the cows and grass, you do get used to it after a while so Ettelbruck wasn’t such a big deal for me, it was a lot like the main city but with probably 1/4th the population. However, the biggest surprise ever was Echternach! Wow absolutely loved it! It was hustling bustling with mostly Germans in that area on a Sunday. Everything was open! Hop on the mini train for a ride in the beautiful city or go canoeing and kayaking by the water stream, this place was filled with tons of activities to do and the town is right outside from a Cinderella story. You could just sit and admire the architecture and the medieval buildings forever; it is in fact the oldest city of Luxembourg. You could also just keep walking ahead of Echternach to hit the Mullerthal region, which was so gorgeous that it is actually termed the little Switzerland of Luxembourg. Something I found out only once I got home. There you go; I don’t think a trip to Zurich was even needed at this rate. I didn’t understand why the tourist lady hadn’t told me to come here first; it was absolutely breath-taking.
A weekend in Luxembourg is honestly all that is required to explore the Country, it was a relaxing weekend well spent and a perfect start to Simran’s DDLJ one month-long adventure in Europe, but the next weekend had to be a place away from the country. A place she could dare to be different and not herself; a place that could damn well take her to hell. Amsterdam.