Luxembourg, in detail

Our trip to Luxembourg started at 4:30am on Saturday morning with the screeching tones of Kat’s cellphone alarm rousing us from what had been a comfortable slumber. By 5:15 after a quick shower and some food, we were leaving the house towards Dublin airport. It turned out to be a very very popular weekend for travel! Even at 6am in the morning the check-in area of Dublin airport was jam packed. The queues for the two security screening points were both 100m (literally) long, snaking back and forth against each other up and down the length of the departure hall. Luckily they were moving fairly rapidly and it only took up just over 30 minutes to get through security and begin the 10 minute walk to our gate. Dublin airport’s passenger volumes have doubled to 20M in the past 10 years and the need for an expanded terminal (coming in 2010) is plainly evident.

The flight (Ryan Air) was fairly uneventful and we arrived in Frankfurt Hahn just after 10am local time. The bus to Luxembourg departed at 11 and after a scenic trip through the German countryside (they have lots of wind turbines) we arrived at Luxembourg’s central bus station just before 1pm. Our hotel was next door, so we checked in, dropped our bags and then walked into the centre of town (the central bus station is not actually in the centre of town…) and found some lunch.

Luxembourg (the third smallest country in Europe) has a long history, it was originally a fortified castle and it’s privileged position, flanked by sheer cliffs into big ravines saw it fortunes rise and fall many times over the years as it was conquered and subsequently rebuilt and improved! These days Luxembourg’s geographical features are primarily used to provide a picturesque backdrop to tourist photos! You can see our Luxembourg photos for yourself.

Our first tourist stop of the day was a visit to the Petrusse casements. A series of tunnels built into the cliff face in the middle of town. The casements were built and extended by many different armies as control of Luxembourg changed over the years, their most recent use was as air raid shelters during WWII when they sheltered up to 30,000 people! We descended from the top of the ravine (city level) to the bottom via a very steep staircase built by the Austrians, before climbing all the way back up again via another series of passages and chambers containing cannons and gun chambers that look out over the ravine and were used to defend the city.

Once back up to the city level, we wandered through the main centre of town and past the royal palace, eventually finding our way over to the ‘Old Town’ where there are a second set of Casements! We didn’t bother to go down into these ones, but you get a feel for how extensive these fortications were when you see all the little windows dotted throughout the cliffs. By this point our feet were tiring a little, so we jumped on the hop-on, hop-off bus tour. This took us through the European quarter which is on the Kirchberg plateau, across the ravine from the main city centre. This area is all newly developed and houses lots of the major banks, financial companies and several of the key European Parliament institutions like the Secretiariat and the European Bank. The buildings are all very modern looking and the area has a very nice arty atmosphere, including a combined heat/power plant right smack bang in the middle of the business district that doesn’t look a step out of place! European design at it’s finest.

For dinner we found a nice Restaurant half way back to our hotel, and had a delicious French/German themed meal. Frogs legs as a starter (tastes like chicken) followed by a nice Steak for Matt and Veal Snitzchel for Kat, the meals were very generously sized! We walked off dinner with a stroll around the Gare quarter (where our hotel was located) before retiring for a relatively early night (we had been up at 4:30am remember).

Sunday morning, we pondered taking a train up to the North of the country to see a photographic exhibition that we’d seen recommended in several places, but we couldn’t quite work out the timetables and station names in time to catch the 9am train, and the later trains would have taken up too much of the day for it to be worthwhile, so that’s still on our todo list for the next trip!

We wandered back towards the bus route by way of the ‘Chemin de la Corniche’ which is described as the ‘most beautiful balcony in Europe’. It looks out over one of the ravines down onto the ‘Old Town’ and towards the Bock Casements. It was impressive, but the most beautiful in Europe might be a bit of an exaggeration.

Availing ourselves of the hop-on, hop off bus again, we travelled back to the Museum of modern art in the European quarter and spent a few hours browsing the exhibitions on display there, which were mostly centered around Science Fiction culture. The Museum building was designed by the same person as the Louvre and is built on the ruins of an old fort. It’s a very cool building and admiring the architecture and design was almost as interesting as the exhibitions themselves.

We rounded off our visit with a late lunch in the central square listening to a live brass band playing through the Grease and Sound of Music soundtracks, followed by some more browsing through the centre of town. Literally every shop except for food outlets is shut on Sunday which limited us to window browsing only. We walked through the city gardens before heading back to the hotel to pick up our bags and then to the bus stop to catch the 5pm bus back to Frankfurt Hahn. We probably could have spent another hour in Luxembourg and caught the 6pm bus back, but being cautious travellers we preferred to spend some extra time in the pub at the airport, sampling delicious German beer, safe in the knowledge that we wouldn’t miss our flight! We also found some tasty pretzels for dinner to keep the hunger at bay. We arrived back in Dublin just after 11 and found the line for the taxi stand was almost as long as the security queue had been the previous morning! Luckily the bus was still running, so we managed to catch that back to the centre of town, otherwise we might still have been waiting for a taxi well after midnight!

Overall, it was a great weekend away, Luxembourg is a very nice city, quite quiet, but very clean, safe and probably a great place to live. This was our first ‘weekend short trip’ to continental Europe using Ryan Air, and the concept seems to work as well as we’d hoped, so expect to hear more of our adventures in the future.

Now, thanks for reading all this way! The winner of the previous quiz is Kat’s mum, Wendy. Who correctly answered that the sign indicates the end of the pedestrianised streets that form much of central Luxembourg and the transition onto a normal road. Weird sign for that if you ask me!

In case you missed the link above see our Luxembourg photos here!.

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3 Comments.

  1. Great story and photos- looks like it will be on my ” to visit” list!!

  2. What do you mean “but.” The pub was a better choice anyway! Sounds like a beautiful place though, will look at photos now…

  3. Wow, I enjoy reading about your adventures round the world eh. Sounds like a great way to pop off for a weekend trip. I thought people thought I was crazy for driving 3 hours up the road for a weekend tramp! Enjoy