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February 20th 2017
Published: February 20th 2017
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Luxembourg is one of the founding members of the European Union, taking it's role in the continuation of a peaceful and cooperative future seriously. The Micro State is strategically positioned in the centre of Western Europe, sharing borders with Belgium, Germany and France. Having been in the centre of the horrors of the Second World War, Luxembourg is committed to a peaceful Europe, particularly between it’s two powerful neighbours France and Germany. Although the country is one of the smallest independent countries in the world, Luxembourg punches well above it’s weight as an influential player in post war Europe. The banking sector is one of the most powerful in the world, with a strong manufacturing and agricultural sector also playing a role in the economy. Luxembourg has one of the highest standards of living in the world, also playing host to several EU headquarters as one of the three official capitals of the European Union. The locals speak Luxembourgish, French, and German; and are sure to provide a warm welcome to visitors.

The journal left off at the conclusion of a wonderful trip to Switzerland, where I boarded an early morning flight with a stopover at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. The flight was running a little late due to mechanical issues with the plane, but we were up and away around 30 minutes behind schedule. I was concerned as there was only a limited time to catch my connecting flight, and after arrival was racing around the airport like a whirling dervish. The French were typically relaxed in their understated way, despite the fact I had to get from one side of the airport to the other with the board displaying departure as scheduled. I arrived at the terminal less than ten minutes prior to scheduled departure, to find the flight was on a small propeller plane and it wasn't a problem. The passengers boarded the flight, and we were up in the air less than 40 minutes before touching down in an exciting new country.

Once again it was cold, cold, cold which has been a constant them on this European adventure. Luxembourg features an efficient public transport system, with buses runing from the airport to the city centre every 15 minutes. I hopped off in the centre, heading off for a twenty minute walk to the YHA in Luxembourg City. On arrival I had a warm reunion with my Aussie friend after the terrific adventures we shared in Malta. We both had plans to visit Luxembourg for the first time, so coordinated our itineraries for two full days of exploration. I went to the YHA restaurant for lunch, enjoying a three course meal for just 10 euros. The food was superb, with the restaurant hosting plenty of locals who come for the great food and competitive prices.

I checked in and dumped my bags before heading down stairs to meet my friend for an afternoon and evening exploring Luxembourg City. My mate is such a smooth operator, and had been on an extended tour of the city the previous evening with a local girl, who took him around the major attraction of the city. He told me we went on the same itinerary in reverse, it was like having a tour guide instead of blundering around like a typical tourist, and missing out on many of the attractions. Luxembourg City is beautiful and unique, featuring upper and lower levels with really steep streets to navigate in between. However, in an ingenious way the locals have installed two glass lifts in different parts of the city; they zoom up and down so quickly most tourists will take a couple of rides up and down just for the fun and the views.

We checked out the historic centre of the city, also paying a visit to the Palace of the Grand Duke Henri. I’m advised Luxembourg is the only remaining grand duchy in the world. The guards were suitably stern, marching up and down in an impressive fashion. The monarchs are popular figures and play an important role in the stability of the country. Wherever we visited during our stay the locals were kind and friendly, always ready to greet you with Moien; the only word I know in Luxembourgish. There are several impressive churches in the centre, featuring stylish European architecture as you would expect.

Part of the motivation for our catch up was to celebrate Australia Day together overseas. We looked in to whether there were any celebrations taking place the next day, but there was nothing of note in Luxembourg City. The only tip we received from a local is that an Australian manages one of the more famous pubs in the city, so a visit to his pub was definitely on the agenda for the next evening. We had a quiet first night at the hostel chatting to other guests while enjoying another superb meal at the restaurant. The YHA in Luxembourg is a large and impressive building, and the only budget accommodation option in the city. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and efficient; people of all ages and walks of life make the most of their stay at this first class establishment.

We woke early the next morning with a full itinerary planned for Australia Day. We walked to the central bus station, and from there caught a few buses towards the German border. At one of the stops our maps app pointed out a bridge near the bus station, and we had some time to kill before the connecting bus arrived. Why not go to Germany, we thought! We crossed the deserted bridge and sure enough the first Beemer zooming past had German EU plates. How cool was that, with no border controls that five minute interlude was heaps of fun. We met up with some Brazilians who were also waiting for the bus. I couldn’t resist telling them we'd just gone to Germany, as it had only been half an hour since we last saw them!

Our final destination on the bus was the Mullerthal Trail, featuring the elegant Shiessentumpel waterfall with a lovely bridge as the backdrop. At the beginning of the trail we happened across another waterfall completely frozen, enjoying the chance to stand on the ice at the base of the waterfall. The trail is famous for the spectacular rock formations, as we hiked along the trail the scenery was beautiful. The buses, however, don't run regularly in this isolated spot, and we had a further long hike to get to a neighbouring town so we could catch a bus back to the city. It was a terrific way to spend Australia Day, out in the wilds of Luxembourg where even some locals were coming to see the frozen waterfall, apparently this hasn’t happened before. At least there's one benefit to such a severe European winter!

We arrived back in Luxembourg in the evening, heading out to the pub in search of a little piece of home. Sure enough the Aussie manager was there, he's married to a local with a couple of kids and loving life in the Grand Duchy. We chatted easily over a few beers, before heading back to the hostel in the cold with the sheer rock faces lit up in the evening. Luxembourg has been a revelation and a unique travel destination, basically all of you should be here now!


We are what we believe we are." C.S. Lewis


It’s home time, so until next time I'm signing off for now

Tom

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21st February 2017

Picturesque Luxembourg
I loved my time in Luxembourg City. It's a shame you didn't get to visit Vianden, north of Luxembourg City and on the German boarder.
2nd March 2017
Frozen waterfall

Frozen waterfall
Very cool

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