6.22.09 Luxembourg and Brussels

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Lovely Brussels architecture

6.22.09    Luxembourg and Brussels

 

Quote of the Day:  “One country a day is for wimps!”  (Tessa)

 

Today we explored Luxembourg and Belgium!  Fortunately, they are just a couple hours apart.

 

Luxembourg City is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  Who knew?!  It was like a “Petite Paris”- sparkling clean, gorgeous architecture, interesting history, stunning views, nice people in this city of 80,000, exceptional transportation system- what more can I say?  We were really quite shocked by that wonderful city.

Healthy Belgium Waffle dinner

 

Even the bus drivers were kind and helpful!  Our first one took note of where we wanted to get off and when we stood up too early once (2 stops were named the “gare”), he told us to wait and made sure we exited at the correct stop.  How nice and rare that was! 

 

Some buses in cities have the driver completely enclosed in plexiglass and there is no way to communicate with them at all- and they don’t look at you either.  Jazy noted that every single person who got on or off the bus in Luxembourg would greet the driver with at least a nice nod.  Several times people asked the driver questions and while they communicated, it was a very quiet, respectful, and personable exchange.. 

 

The entire city was very sophisticated and elegant, the people dressed nicely, and we were completely taken by it all.

Famous Mannequin Pis statue
  While a couple busloads of tourists were there, as well as a few biking tourists, we were definitely in a city full of locals going about their day, which was a great view on the city.  Being a part of the city fabric in Luxembourg is much more fun than overwhelming any ambiance as with Prague tourists.

 

We explored Luxembourg City’s cathedral, the historical area with Place d’Armiste (?) , and a 1000-year-old system of caves that could house 35,000 people in times of war, as they did in World War 2.  Now that was amazing! 

 

The whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and as one gazes over the arched canal and roads, the fortifications, the 900 AD St. Michael’s Church, you see why.  Trememdous!  Need I say more?  This city is near the top of the list of favorite cities in the world.  Wow!  Double wow!

 

We took the quick, quiet, smooth, efficient bus back to the Park & Ride (near the campground), where Sugar was waiting for us.

Luxembourg's ancient alleyways
  We were glad too, as it was right at noon and the campground exit closes noon until 2pm.  There was plenty of room for Sugar in the free P&R.  The bus cost 3E each direction total for 2 tickets (kids 12 and under were free).  Luxembourg City was not particularly inexpensive, but it was worth it.  Our Panini sandwiches from a boucherie were delicious (4E each- pollo or jambon).

 

We’re off!  We drove 2.5 hours into Belgium to Brussels!  Actually, we just drove to the Brussels ring road, then 2nd exit to our campground.  While the Weesbeck (?) Campground is not overly attractive, the people working here are wonderful and we really enjoyed talking with them. 

 

Then, we walked a short ways to the bus stop, which we took to the metro, which was timed with the bus.

Luxembourg
  Impressive!  On the way back, same thing- the bus seemed to meet the metro.  Isn’t that smart?  Anyway, we could buy bus tickets from the driver, but not the 4E daily pass for everything (not that we’d have needed that at 3pm anyway).  So the 1;70E for my ticket (we think the bus driver said kids were free) got us to the metro. 

 

At the metro, we had a bit of trouble because only the ticket machines were available to get tickets- and it was coins-only.  We could get a Family Pass for 10E (up to 5 people traveling together), but we didn’t have enough coins.  So we bought 3 more single (60 min with transfer) tickets (1.70E each) and validated them and hopped on.  In most of the countries lately, there is no machine in which to put your ticket to enter (no turnstiles) and we have yet to see a ticket inspector in 90% of them.  But we don’t want to steal, so we buy, and we validate like we’re supposed to.  (Honesty costs money but saves our integrity.)  And we managed to get off close to the place we thought the metro was going.

Luxembourg campground
  J

 

Brussels was really amazing too!  We found the main square, the little statue of the little boy peeing, Mannequin Pis- this really is considered one of the most famous city sights!  The statue cannot be more than 2 feet high- we were surprised this is so important. 

 

Belgium must be appreciated for its finest food:  Chocolate!  Our nice campground ladies wrote down some of their favorite local chocolatiers for us and we pulled out our list:  Corne’, Godiva, (I need to find the list) and we visited both. There were many, many more local chocolatiers!  What a great city!

 

The Belgium Waffle was available from many stores, serving them warm with chocolate sauce, then fresh whipped cream.

Luxembourg caves
  Yes, we made ourselves sick from eating all this!  And sticky too- what a mess!  But it was so delicious and honestly, it was dinner.  Not a healthy one, but certainly enjoyed!  Ha!

 

We also admired the Belgium tapestries and thought one of Monet’s garden in Giverny, which we visited would be most memorable.  But the size I wanted was large and the price larger (like over 400E).  So I determined that I’d be more likely to please Ned and take him with me to Giverny in person if I didn’t buy that tapestry today.  J

 

Most people in the city appeared to speak French.  Given “Thank you” in Luxembourgish is “merci” as in French, I could be mistaken and this could have been Luxembourgish, but I didn’t figure out the language completely.

Chi-Chi's! :) in Luxembourg

 

Brussels seems like a bright, energetic, vibrant, clean city with lovely architecture and many destitute people laying on benches or begging unobtrusively.  It doesn’t mean that other cities don’t have homeless or poor people, but they are not as obvious as they were in Brussels.  In some places, like Paris, they’re not allowed to beg and you wonder where they go then.  Shooing people out of sight does not make their problems disappear.  Anyway, they were not aggressive, just part of the real life of the city.  Lia kept busy with her donations of our change (yes, which could explain no change for the metro tickets- ah well!)

 

So we returned before dark to the campground, getting off at a bus stop a bit too early- surprise!  We saw our bus number stop at a location just as we’d been walking for 10 minutes.  Oops!  To be fair, we had to take a different bus from the metro since our bus quit running a 6pm.

Luxembourg
  So we were learning the stops as we studied the map, bus route in the bus, and the GPS.  It is always an adventure with public transportation!

 

So after tonight, we head to Amsterdam for the day, then spend the night, play more and take our ferry that night to England! 

 

We changed our flight home to July 3rd, 6 days earlier!  Since our ferries are booked and we arrive Ireland on June 30, we found one flight open in July and Ned happily booked it for us!  He has just one more weekend to recover from his Ciao preparations before we arrive.  J

 

We’re all so excited!  That will give us 3 nights in Ireland to return Sugar, which seems about right.

Luxembourg
  It will allow us to celebrate July 4th in USA, someplace we very much appreciate after our travels. 

 

While we could spend many months more here in Europe, we do not need 10 days in northern Ireland when we really, really miss Ned.  The girls are starting to complain of homesickness and Charles and I can relate.  We are enjoying every single minute that we can of Europe and then we’re going to be happy to get home!  That is a wonderful trip!

 

I know you’ll all be happy to know that the Behans are doing well, now in Arizona, headed west!  They have enjoyed the Texas politeness, about which I must find out more.  It makes us so happy they’re having a good experience.  Did I tell you that their luggage did arrive while they were at our house?  Hope they don’t mind me reporting, but I know you’re interested!  J  It is always a thrill to hear from them and makes me realize now that it must have been a huge silence when I left their house and went so long at first without calling or emailing.

Luxembourg
them.  Oops!  Hindsight is 20/20.  Glad all is well with them.

 

And now…

To The Netherlands!

 

 

 

alanhill says:
Tessa my quote of the day!
You can do Paris in a weekend if you really hustle!
Posted on: Jun 23, 2009
HeatherHop says:
Would love to visit Luxembourg. I guess I missed the golden opportunity by not going there when I was in Belgium! Great blog :)
Posted on: Jun 23, 2009
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Lovely Brussels architecture
Lovely Brussels architecture
Healthy Belgium Waffle dinner
Healthy Belgium Waffle dinner
Famous Mannequin Pis statue
Famous Mannequin Pis statue
Luxembourgs ancient alleyways
Luxembourg's ancient alleyways
Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg campground
Luxembourg campground
Luxembourg caves
Luxembourg caves
Chi-Chis!  :)  in Luxembourg
Chi-Chi's! :) in Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Brussels
photo by: Vlindeke