Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lovely Luxembourg

Our first out of country visit since arriving to Germany was to Luxembourg. Luxembourg City is only a two hour drive from Ramstein, so it made an easy day trip for us. We didnt know very much about the country prior to going, so we used our handy-dandy AAA guidebook to get a little info before we left.

Along the way, we had a few first hand learning experiences. If you know French, youll have a distinct advantage in this country over those of us who dont. Just when I was getting into the grove of saying "Guten Tag", "Bitte", and "Danke," we had to switch gears to French. I dont know about you, but I took Spanish in high school and a little in college, which means I know a very negligent amount of French. Im talking "Bonjour" and "Merci," and seriously, thats it. Thankfully my husband chose to take French in high school (like he'd ever need it right?). He actually remembered several phrases that really helped us out that day. Very few people spoke any English at all here.

In the center of the city is a large open air market. I loved it! They sold everything from fresh fish and pasta, to flowers and cheese. I could have spent a lot of time (and money) here, but we had things to do, so I settled with some fresh cheese and bacon. The Grand Ducal Palace is across the street and is just brilliant. So beautiful. The royal family actually lives there and guards patrol the grounds. While the building was impressive, the grounds were not. There wernt any visible gardens or greenery of any kind. Around the corner is the Cathedral Notre Dame, which is gorgeous. It has such a long, detailed history that is summarized in several languages on the wall, just inside the front door. The designs are very intricate, the stained glass windows awe-inspiring. It looks very much like what we've seen in Italy. The Place d'Armes is a large area near the open market that is full of shops and restaurants. Expect to pay 18-30 euro/person for lunch as this area is very pricey. They do have a McDonald's though and some more affordable prices off the main path. I don't know about you guys, but Im not traveling Europe just so I can eat at a McD's when I could get that in the States. Sure, it's familiar and one day I may give in, but for now Im happy sampling the local fare.

And on that note....
We ate lunch in a cute restaurant with electric pink walls and an attached bakery, near the open market called Wiltgen. It was very reasonably priced and the food was delicious! J & I both drank the BEST caramel macchiato EVER! E.V.E.R. I swear Ive never had anything like it, and Im afraid I never will again. It was so good, we had to get another one to go! The waiters here did not speak English, we we had to point at our selections on the menu, but it worked out easily enough.

The driving in Europe is adventurous, no matter what country you are in, but here in Luxembourg, it was definitely worse than what we'd been exposed to in Germany.

While we were excited to see downtown Luxembourg City, our main goal for the day was to make it up to Vianden Castle, which was about 20 minutes from the city, or 2 hours from Ramstein. This castle is gorgeous! It was enormous and imposing, sitting high on a hill overlooking an adorable little village. It was built in the 12th century, but has been added on to and rebuilt many times since then. In fact, it's still being remodeled. It's 6 euro per person to get in. Be sure to wear your walking shoes as it's a bit of a hike to get to the entrance.

These books were from the 1000s-1500s! So old and yet still mostly intact. They were so cool! =) Our only confusion of the day was with the castle parking. We could not figure out the parking meter, so we just winged it, and luckily, did not get a ticket.

1 comment:

Mary and Sean said...

Lucky you that you can travel so easily to other countries. I've never been to LUX, though I want to try the next time I'm in that area. Those bakery items are cute!