Luxembourg for the weekend

Posted: November 28, 2012 by jennroig in Articles, Chronicles, English, Miscellaneous, Photography, Travels
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(cc jennroig)

The spring was breaking in 2010. I was living in Amstedam, sick of a rainy, dark and cold winter. The sanitation workers strike hadn’t yet begun, and the campaign for the PM was still a cool stage, that means Geert Wilders was still only known in The Netherlands and no foreigner had been annoyed by his rhetoric.

It was  an exceptional bright day.  A bunch of us were sitting by the canal, in front of  the university building on the sunny side of Kloveniersburgwal, when listened: “we should take the weekend to go to Luxembourg…” Really???… I yelled in my mind.

I don’t know who said it, it could have been Eeva or Ida, anyhow the copyright of the idea remains with both of them. I jumped in next:  “Please please please take me with you?!” And then we convinced, or confused, Carol and Namitha to join us so we could fill the rental car.

By then, I had poor knowledge about Luxembourg. I knew it was a tiny, landlocked European country, part of the Benelux arrangement, full of wealthy people who made money from the finance industry, and tax breaks, and something else I guess. I also know some trivia, like the Grand Duchess was born in Havana. But I hadn’t met any Luxembourger who could confirm it or not.

We left Amsterdam a Friday morning. Eeva was driving. I remember we collected the first cash after Carol’s idea of gathering equal amounts from each one of us, everytime we needed to do some collective puchases. We stopped for maps, I think, and for toilette time and some beverage. I clearly remember it was then that I learnt  about Eeva’s preference for white chocolate, or was it brown? Any case there’s something special in the way that woman likes her chocolate.

It was a cool journey. We yelled all at once when we saw the first Belgian hill, after all that time surrounded by the flat lands of Denmark and The Netherlands. We passed by farms and plowed fields. I remember when I saw a cow and looked at it as if it was some UFO and the girls looked at me back mocking me: “hello! Have you never seen a cow?” I had seen cows before, obviously!, “yes, of course, but this one is alive…”

Well, Namitha is Indian, so… “what, are you so used to see them dead and cooked on your dish!?” I laughed. We laughed hard.

Driving was crazy exhausting. Vianden was the first stop in our way, but the road seemed endless. We took a wrong turn some place and doubled the time that should has taken us the whole journey. We arrived to Vianden at night, on road built among mountains. Vianden is a tiny little town, with just a few thousand inhabitants that seems extracted from a fairy tale. It’s rather easy to find Frech and German speaker, but not so much English. Curiously, we were told that there has been a great Portuguese immigration, driven by better chances of jobs.

Castle in Vianden, set of Shadow of the Vampire

The first impression you get from Vianden is the sight of the castle. At night, it is a monumental structure full of golden lights that breaks the dark mountain forest landscape. It’s like you time travelled to the Middle Ages, in front of that huge bulk of brick shaped in a marvelous structure.

This castle, I learnt the next day, was the set of the film Shadow of the Vampire, by E. Elias Merhige, with John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe. It  is actually a Museum, where you can get the idea of how rich people used to live back then. But it is also a fun walk with great views.

We arrived in a youth hostal, left the luggage and took our way down the road to find some place where to eat. That night I took one of my best shots ever. Three differently beautiful women… Like a band pic, right?

The next day, we fell in love with the cute houses and the river that crosses the town.

Next stop was Echternach. We had planned to hike through the forest. These are nice trails to walk, where you can easily find your way among many routes that can take you more or less effort.

That same day we took the road to the capital, a half modern half ancient city where you can breath the French influence. There we got into a church, walked the streets, squares, and had a brunch in a cafeteria on the top of a building.

Luxembourg is clean, neat, bright. Easy to walk and drive. There are cozy cafes, charming and smart people. The Court of Justice of the European Union and The European Court of Auditors are based there.

This is the kind of cafe I refer to…

Squares like this one…

Streets like this one….

Indeed, it’s the great place to scape for a weekend with friends. Mostly because it’s the kind of destiny that’s not part of your dream travels, but still manage to happily surprise you.


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